Walk In Love!

Walk in Love!

“Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children and walk in love, as Christ loved us. And gave himself for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” Ephesians 5:1-2 ESV


    On a bright day in late April, birds singing, the smell of new life in the air, the Board of Ordained Ministry, voted to ordain me to ministry. In the summary statement of the interview committee was the comment: “He is young, so we understand why River does not truly understand the darkness of evil in life, but as he ages, he will grow in that knowledge.”

    Eight years later on a cold night in Hollywood I came face to face with evil in holding a knife to a man’s throat, who  attempted to rape me. I caught myself. dropped the knife, and  walked away.

    That moment, the moment in which I came close to killing  someone, haunted me, and still haunts me. For the first time I saw how evil we can become. I pulled away, but facing the reality it was still within me.

    Two years later on Polk Street, eighteen year old Sean commented, “You must have done something really bad to want to help us.” At that time I was trying to atone for my sins, seeking to become “perfect”,  but now it is out of being touched by Jesus, and out of my deep love for him, who holds me in his hands. We aim for perfection, and in failing, Jesus holds us.

    We are a mixture of good and evil, and yet we are made in the “image of God,” and as we “work out our salvation,” we can can become “imitators of God,” we can become “a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”

   Br. Luke Ditewig, ssje says to us: “Hospitality, welcoming the stranger, is essential in the desert. We are all in the desert, bearing the challenges and difficulties of our journey. None of us can survive on our own. God welcomes us, offering sustenance and companionship. No matter what appears to be ours, what we claim to possess, all is a gift. We are God’s guests”.

    Two men are role  models on  this journey of  “working out our salvation” . One is former President Jimmy Carter. In his own personal struggle, he shines brightly as one who is “working out his salvation.” He lives simply, follows his faith. Whether he was a good president or not does not matter–what matters is he is a a man of compassion and an example of one who sees himself as a “guest in the desert.”

    The second is Father Henri Nouwen, who struggled all of his life, and found himself working with the disabled as he “worked out his salvation”, and leaves us with these words:

Personally, as my struggle reveals, I don’t often “feel” like a beloved child of God. But I know that is my most primal identity and I know that I must choose it above and beyond hesitation.      .
    Strong emotions, self-rejection, and even self-hatred justifiably toss you about, but you are free to respond as you will. You are not what others, or even you, think about yourself. You are not what you do. You are not what you have. You are a full member of the human family, having been known before you were conceived and molded in your mother’s womb. In times when you feel bad about yourself, try to choose to remain true to the truth of who you really are. Look in the mirror each day and claim your true identity. Act ahead of your feelings and trust that one day your feelings will match your convictions. Choose now and continue to choose this incredible truth. As a spiritual practice claim and reclaim your primal identity as beloved daughter or son of a personal Creator.”

    In our most primal selves we are created in the image of God, we are called “to be imitators of God,” and in struggling to do so, we find the best in us and each person we encounter. We are guests in the desert, and as God shows us hospitality, so are we to show hospitality to others. Let us walk in love! Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God.” Deus Meus et Omnia, “My God and All Things.”


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

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164




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