Gospel Fidelity

Jesus the Homeless

Gospel Fidelity

I Corinthians 12:12-26

Reflections from the Interim Rector of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church

1755 Clay Street

San Francisco, CA 94109


“I had the opportunity to participate in the anniversary celebration of Rev. River Sims that was hosted at St. Luke’s on Saturday of this past week. It was a celebration of, not just the work of River, but of the ministry of the Catholic Temenos Worker, of which River is a part. A work that perhaps many at St. Luke’s aren’t as familiar with.

When River asked me to offer a welcome message to those in attendance I wasn’t sure what I would say. What I know about River and what he does is simple: River ministers to and with people that would probably frighten me; his work is often done in the evening hours and he meets the many folks who live on the streets – well, right where they are. River’s embrace of the great diversity of humankind is evident by the company he keeps.

After all, he hangs out with me.

So, as I contemplated what I could possibly say, I found myself making a comparison to what I do in ministry. River and I are both ordained and presumably we also both are following that call to the “work” that we do. I don’t under- or over-value one from the other; the press to follow a call that we feel is coming from God is important. Like many ordained, I have sometimes questioned what I’m doing and is it helpful; is it really ministry?

What I know is that we each of us play a part. And this is where it’s always important to recall the body of Christ, and to understand that this body is made up of so many different parts – each part vitally important; there is no part that is unimportant.

St. Luke’s Episcopal Church can be seen as the body of Christ, a body that cannot function effectively or efficiently without each part. Every ministry, whether we see it that way or even call it ministry, is vital to the body and her health. Ministry is everything from Altar Guild to ushering to signing up to help clean up, to volunteering at the Food Pantry, to folding service sheets, to calling on a parishioner you haven’t’ seen lately, to serving on vestry, to showing up.

And so much more.

The health of the body is dependent upon the activity of the ministry and the activity of the ministry is directly dependent upon the generosity of the body. This is circular – isn’t it.

Here is a truth that I have come to understand clearly: I am a paid part of the body, as are others, and the paid parts of the body are important. However, they are not reflective of the health or survival of the body. The health and survival of the body is directly dependent upon the volunteer ministry – aka you.


Audrey hits upon the division of talents and opportunities within the body of Christ. We are all called to ministry, in  our own way.

These past twenty five years I have found these words true:

“Love in action is a harsh and dreadful thing compared to love in dreams.”
Fyodor Dostoevsky, The Brothers Karamazov

I  walk the roads that few go down, the roads of letting young adults, of all stripes, enter into our life, being their brother and friend.

I  walk where they walk, I  walk with out judgment. Many years ago, an intern from Old First Presbyterian, was standing with me on the corner of Polk and Sacramento, and a new car drove up,  a young man of nineteen proudly showed me his new car, which he had recently “creatively acquired,” (stole). I  complemented him on its beauty and Shane drove off, and my friend said, “Aren’t you going to call the police?’ I  laughed and said: “The police will catch him soon enough, and than it will be my place to listen and work with him on the consequences of his actions, for it is not my place to judge, others do that, I help him look at those consequences, and their affects on his life and the lives of others.”

I  make no judgments, others will judge, I  walk with people in working with them on the affects of those consequences on themselves and others. I  love them despite their actions. I  leave the judgment to God–for she will show much more compassion. I walk with them where they are and I  do not apologize for our ministry.

Aubrey points out we are all called to ministry, each in his or her own way, the task is to act on that call to live out that call. One way we can live out our call is from another Dostoevsky quote:

“Love the animals, love the plants, love everything. If you love everything, you will perceive the divine mystery in things. Once you perceive it, you will begin to comprehend it better every day. And you will come at last to love the whole world with an all-embracing love”.

All of us are called, we have to choose to act, let us embrace our being  chosen, and move into a wondrous life! Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

Fr.River Damien Sims, sfw, D.Min, D.S.T.

Post Office Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164



P.S. Audrey hangs out with me and that is wondrous because she is really an awesome and magnificent lady with a heart and passion for ministry–I am honored!

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