Back to Syria

October 22 - lunch with the Grand Mufti of Australia and friends
October 23 - Founding the Australian Indonesian Boxing Club
October 29 - at National Mosque Open Day
October 30 - I called out Mark Bouris (L) for a fight (but he hasn't responded)
November 4 to 6 - a great Warrior Weekend with the guys from Fighting for Autism!
November 17 - meeting with Bishop Rabbat (Melkite) and praying for Syria
November 17 - hosting NGO leaders from Thailand and talking boxing!
November 18 - a great night out with the family 🙂
November 26 - acting as display case for my dear Fran's bear collection
November 28 - with Canon Brett in Dubbo, celebrating the life of the late Mavis Gibbs
December 4 to 5 - another great Warrior Weekend at Binacrombi bush camp
Always dance assuming that nobody is going to take a picture!

Hi Fighter,

As usual, it’s been far too long since I communicated with you, and here we are at the pointy end of the year already!

I have been flat out:

  • Running some amazing Warrior Weekends
  • Sharing in some fantastic cross-cultural and interfaith bridge-building work
  • Doing plenty of praying and boxing

And now I’m heading back to Syria, hoping to pray in the New Year in one of the ancient Christian communities north of Damascus!

This latest scheme might seem like my craziest yet, but let me lay it out in more detail:

Firstly, I’m planning on celebrating Christmas with my church and my family first. That’s a priority. Secondly, I’m taking a contingent of Christian leaders with me:

  • Ven. Carol Wagner (Archdeacon of the Coast – Canberra-Goulburn Diocese)
  • Rev. Michael Palmer (rector of Vaucluse)
  • Troy Hester (formerly our community worker, and now with Anglicare, in charge of the resettlement of Syrian refugees in Sydney)
  • My son, Soren (representing Australian Christian young people)

In other words, we are going to pray rather than box this time (though I am trying to see if I can get a fight in while I am there).  Our goals, at any rate, are:

  1. To take some much-needed medical supplies into Syria
  2. To establish sister church relationships with Syrian Christian communities
  3. To allow Syrian Christians to share their stories (through our media team)

We currently have two expert journalists in our media team. Hopefully, by the grace of God, you will soon be seeing their work on your TV and social media, with Syrian Christians telling their story – a story that, up to this point, has not been told!

It is an auspicious time in Syria right now. Aleppo is on the verge of being liberated from the coalition of terrorist groups that have controlled the east of the city for some years. Conversely of course, Palmyra (where we were only a few months ago) has fallen back under the control of DAESH/ISIS. Even so, all indications are that this reversal will not last for long.

Indeed, my hope is that our New Year celebrations will mark the end of the carnage in Syria, for I do believe that once Aleppo has fallen, foreign investors in the war are likely to close their accounts, after which the violence will end as quickly as it began.

Please keep praying for the people of Syria. Their resilience is remarkable, but even if this marks the end of the violence, these good people have a long road to recovery ahead. That’s one of the reasons it’s so important to establish long-term supportive relationships between churches and other community organisations at this point in time. Pray with me that our team will make a genuine contribution in this process.

As always, we are dependent on our support team to get us there and to make it all happen. I appreciate that this is the worst time of year to be asking for financial support. Even so, if you can forward us even a small amount it will be greatly appreciated.

If you’d like to forward us some cash via Paypal, please use my Buy me a drink page, and PLEASE DO NOT MENTION SYRIA anywhere when you make the donation!

On the last occasion, a number of lovely people who tried to contribute included messages of support, along the lines of ‘peace for Syria’ and the very mention of the word ‘Syria’ triggered Paypal’s alarm system. The result was that the account was frozen for a number of weeks and none of those contributions got through.

If you’d like to give support but would prefer to avoid Paypal, just contact me and we’ll work something out. All my contact details (phone number, map to my place, etc.) are in the ‘contact’ section of www.fatherdave.org (ie. the non-mobile version).

Christ is King

For our sermon today, I want to take you back a few weeks, to that day in the church year known as ‘Christ the King Sunday’. It fell on November 20th this year, and is day when we celebrate the rule of Christ in our world.

I appreciate that the very idea that Christ rules our world may seem absurd to many. To all appearances, it is money and power that rule our world. In what sense is God really in charge of anything in this world, and if God is in charge, why isn’t He making a better job of things?


(you can read this sermon here if you prefer, or watch the YouTube version here)

Of course, I can’t close off today without inviting you to be a part of our Christmas celebrations here at the Church of the Holy Trinity in Dulwich Hill.

We’ll be having carol-singing on our rectory lawn, as per usual, from 7pm on Christmas Eve. We’ll also be celebrating our Christmas Eucharist from around 9.15am on Christmas Day. And if you haven’t got anywhere special to be for lunch on Christmas Day, let me know. We currently have plenty of room at our table.

I’ll be in contact again before the big day!

Your brother in the Good Fight,

Dave
www.fatherdave.org
www.fighting-fathers.com
www.holytrinity.org.au
www.binacrombi.com.au
www.israelandpalestine.org
www.prayersforsyria.com
www.dulwichhillgym.com
www.warriorweekends.com

P.S. Support the work of the Fighting Fathers by joining our online community at  www.fighting-fathers.com. It only costs you $10/month and the first month is free.

About Father Dave Smith

Preacher, Pugilist, Activist, Father of four

Father Dave’s Missive – December 12, 2013

Hi Fighter,

Father Dave here reporting to you from the air – en route to Bali!

No, I haven’t pocketed the offertory and fled the country. I’m actually heading to Bali to preside at the wedding of two much-love parishioners – Michael and Felicia. The couple were generous enough to pay for tickets for the whole family to attend the wedding and it seemed like a great idea at the time.

Mind you, I hadn’t really thought about how busy things were going to be this time of year, and perhaps if I’d been less flustered I would not have left it to last night to double-check that everybody’s passport was where it was supposed to be.

It’s a painful thing to be within half an hour of having to leave for the airport and to still to be totally unsure as to how many of you are going.  Apparently dear Imogen’s passport had been taken to school in the last week as proof of ID for some work-experience project. We wanted to wait till the school opened and the office staff had looked for it before giving up.

Fran, ready for an adventure

at least one of us was ready to go

Imogen graciously insisted on staying at the home of her elder sister, rather than spoil the holiday for her siblings. Her brother insisted on staying with her which made it slightly more complicated. Our little one, Francesca, still had her heart set on the great airplane adventure. In the end, with only minutes to go before we needed to leave for the airport, we decided yield to the respective wishes of both the older kids and their younger sister. At time of writing, three of us are in the air and three still on the ground.

I’m sure there’s a good sermon illustration in all this somewhere. I think it will be a while though before I’m ready to bring it out.

Fran in Bali

We made it – Fran in Ubud (Bali)

Youth Camp

Speaking of feeling flustered, last weekend was our big Youth Bush Camp.

You will remember me promoting this over the last few missives as an intense ‘Warrior Weekend’ boxing boot-camp. As it turned out, very few hardened athletes were able to make it to this one. The vast majority were our local youth centre kids, many of whom smoked and almost none of whom had any great desire to get fit. The weekend was going to be a challenge. Having said that, we didn’t anticipate the challenge we started with!

I thought we had the transport really well organised. We transported most of the kids down to Goulburn station by train (a three hour trip) from where two of us were to pick them up and ferry them across to camp Binacrombi. I was driving a troop-carrier that carried 12. My teammate’s car carried 7. We had 16 kids to pick up. What could go wrong?

The problem was that the two vehicles were travelling from Sydney separately. I was heading off early, taking supplies and luggage out to the campsite and then returning to Goulburn station. My buddy was leaving a little later and going straight to the station. I knew my mate didn’t know the route to Goulburn but the car has an efficient GPS so I didn’t think it would be a problem – not until I arrived in Goulburn to find that he was not at the station but had somehow taken a wrong turn and ended up in Katoomba!

For those who don’t know Sydney, Katoomba is about 3 hours west of Sydney. Goulburn is two hours south. How could anybody make such a mistake? Well … it’s not that I want to absolve myself of responsibility but to a large extent the culprit was Google!

Try it yourself. If you type in ‘Goulburn, New South Wales’ into Google Maps you get “Goulburn Valley Steelworks, Katoomba”. I’m guessing that they are paying Google for a listing whereas Goulburn railway station are not.

Suffice it to say that I managed to ferry all the kids to a local service station and they were fed and relaxed by the time our Katoomba tourist finally made it, exhausted from six hours of driving!

There’s another sermon illustration here, isn’t there?

Let me zip to the end of the camp and say that despite my foreboding and despite the disastrous start it turned out to be a magnificent weekend! The weather was lovely, the food was great and the kids were a delight! And they really took to the boxing too! Indeed, I think that we might have discovered some real talent!

In short, God is gracious. Everybody had a great time and we learned a few good lessons in the process.

Here are some pics of the weekend’s highlights. See a more complete slideshow here.

Welcome to Binacrombi
Discovering Binacrombi
The boys discover a football!
Everybody joins in the boxing training
Tony O'Loughlin shares his boxing wisdom
Chloe takes the fight up to Sol Egberime!
The kids cool off in the Binacrombi billabong
Some have evidently worked too hard!
Debriefing after a long day!

Sermon Time

I know we’re almost at Christmas but I’m going to take you back to the last Sunday in November, which was the last Sunday of the church year.

The Gospel reading for the day deals with the crucifixion of Jesus – hardly a fitting theme for the Silly Season but a sobering reminder, I think, that Christmas can be a time of great struggle for a great many of us.

Let me know what you think. Leave your comments below.

[imaioVideo v=1]

if you can’t view this sermon, click here.

A few more things before I let you go today, fighter.

Firstly, if you’re going to be in our part of the world over Christmas, we’d love to have you come and celebrate with us.

  • 7pm, Sunday December 22nd
    our Christmas Concert with the Jubilate Singers
  • 7pm, Tuesday December 24th
    Carol Singing on the rectory front lawn
  • 9.15am, Wednesday December 25th
    our Christmas Day Eucharist

If you don’t know how to find us, maps and directions can be found on www.fatherdave.org and on the church website.

Christmas Angels

Christmas Angels coming!

Secondly, if you’re still searching for an appropriate Christmas present for someone who is spiritually earnest but has become cynical about organised religion, might I suggest my friend Keith Mascord’s book, “A Restless Faith“. You can find out more about the book and order a copy from the Restless Faith website.

Finally, will you say a special prayer for my dear eldest daughter, Veronica. Today is her 24th birthday.

She was the first true love of my life, and there is still no one and nothing in this world that I love more than her. The pic below is not a recent one but it is still one of my favourites.

1991 - Veronica and me

Veronica and dad 1991

That’s enough from me today, fighter. I’ll try to touch base with you again before Christmas.

Your brother in the Good Fight,

Dave
www.fatherdave.org
www.fighting-fathers.com
www.zerocostwebsite.net
www.prayersforsyria.com
www.israelandpalestine.org
www.how2changetheworld.com

P.S. And as I’m apt to remind you, if you’d like to support our work, the best way is to become a financial member at fighting-fathers.com. It only costs you $10/month but it makes all the difference at this end!

About Father Dave Smith

Preacher, Pugilist, Activist, Father of four

Happy New Year!

Hi Fighter,

It’s Father Dave back with you, and I won’t keep you for long tonight.

It’s New Year’s Eve and I’m sure you’ve got better things to do than spend your time reading a blog post from me. You might likewise be wondering why I’m spending my New Year’s Eve blogging when I should be out drinking and carousing (in a clerically-appropriate way, of course).

Well … I’m struggling with a stupid eye infection at the moment and I spent half the night at the hospital, so there’s no drinking or carousing on the agenda for me tonight. You’ll have to do my share for me!

It’s an odd time to get sick, of course, but I find it always happens when I slow down. My dad used to call it ‘pilot’s brain syndrome’.

According to my dad, during World War I there was a well-known phenomenon where fighter pilots would sometimes taxi in on the landing strip after a dog-fight, turn off their engines, and then die! When the support crew got to them they’d find that the pilot only had half a brain left. The rest had been destroyed in the dog-fight! Even so, the pilot had managed to complete his mission! He’d landed the plane, taxied in and shut off his engine before giving himself permission to shed his mortal coil!

Dad figured that a lot of us experience a parallel phenomenon where we push through the chaos of particularly busy periods and then we give ourselves permission to die once the pressure comes off. That certainly rings true for me. Anyway … I sincerely hope that you are in better health at the moment.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

If you missed my family-video-Christmas-greeting it is here. And don’t forget to grab some of the virtual presents from under the tree (yes, there really is a tree and there really are presents)!

I was quite pleased with my Christmas Day sermon this year.

I normally bang together a Christmas Day sermon late on Christmas Eve. This year I’d been ruminating on my Christmas message for about six months!

I’m always conscious of the fact that the church lectionary provides us with a series of alternative readings to use on Christmas Day. All of them tell the good ole’ Christmas story of Mary and Joseph and the manger and the shepherds, etc. – all except one!

Every year, alongside the depictions of the happy Nativity scene are these verses from John Chapter 1.

In the beginning was the Word.
The Word was with God, and the Word was God.
He existed in the beginning with God.
Through him all things were made, and apart from him was not anything made that was made.
In him was life, and that life brought light to humanity.
The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has never overcome it!

From a preacher’s point of view, it always seemed to me a lot more straightforward and a lot more downright Christmassy to preach on the birth of Jesus, but about six months ago I got it into my head that this year I’d go with John and let people know that Christmas is about more than babies and presents!

Did I do Christmas justice? You can be the judge of that. Enjoy the video!

[imaioVideo v=1]

(and if you can’t view the above video, click here)

Well … I can hear fireworks going off outside now. The rest of the family has gone to an appropriate location to watch them all and I might try to catch an explosion or two myself from the balcony if I can, but not until I’ve share with you a little about my own hopes for the New Year.

I have two great hopes for 2013:

  • To launch a series of successful Fighting Fathers Warrior Weekend boot camps
  • To see peace in Israel/Palestine

I don’t expect you’ve ever seen those two on the same list before, but those are quite honestly my two greatest hopes for the coming year.

I don’t pretend that I’m going to have a great deal of input into the second of these hopes (apart from prayer) but I’ll certainly be pouring my blood, sweat and tears into the boot-camps.

My vision is to bring together some of this country’s greatest boxers and have them share a weekend in the bush with a variety of young people – some promising young pugilists and others who are homeless or in recovery. Together we share a weekend of hard training and gentle spiritual reflection, with the older men and women playing a mentoring role to the younger ones.

That’s the vision, and these are the dates we have set thus far:

  • March 22-24
  • May 10-12

If you’d like to be part of one or both of these weekends, we’ll be charging $220 per person for the weekend for those who can afford to pay. That will include accommodation, food and training fees.

I hope to have between 20 and 30 paying people on each camp so that we can then invite up to a dozen people who can’t afford to pay. The professional boxers and the admin team will all be donating their time, so we should be able to cover our costs. That’s the hope anyway.

The camps will each be held at our beloved Binacrombi Bush Camp. If you’d like me to book you a place now, just let me know.

Give Peace a Chance

And as for peace in the Israel/Palestine, things are certainly coming to a head.

I don’t know if you read the article I penned on this a week or so ago. I am convinced that this year will be a critical year for Israel/Palestine, and I do believe that if a true and lasting peace can be achieved there, it will have profound reverberations across the globe!

As my friend Bishop Riah (former Anglican Bishop of Jerusalem) always says, “the peace of the world runs through Jerusalem”. I believe this is true. If we can help make it happen there, it can happen anywhere and everywhere!

Follow me on Twitter or subscribe to my RSS feed on israelandpalestine.org if you want my daily updates on the Israel/Palestine situation. It is something that lies heavy on my heart and I will be continuing to write and pray and do whatever I can in this coming year to give peace a chance in that part of the world.

That’s enough from me for today. I’m sure you’ve got some champagne to consume.

Happy New Year, Fighter!

May the Lord bless and strengthen you for the work to which you have been called

Your brother in the Good Fight,

Dave

dave@fatherdave.org
www.fatherdave.org

www.fighting-fathers.com

www.israelandpalestine.org

www.how2changetheworld.com

P.S. As I’m apt to remind you, if you’d like to support our work, the best way is to become a financial member at fighting-fathers.com. It only costs you $10/month but it makes all the difference at this end!

About Father Dave Smith

Preacher, Pugilist, Activist, Father of four