Fit to Box

speaking at Al Quds Day in Melbourne
enduring the Binacrombi billabong for 4.5 mins (nb. the freezer burn)
celebrating with the kids
'Mr Jones' Egberime still training the kids at our gym
with Sheikh Jehad Ishmael and the boys
a day away with my darling daughter, Imogen
my brother, Andy, turns 50! 🙂
the new Muhammadi Welfare Association development at Granville
with Denning and Syed Shoaib Naqvi
Veronica and I meet the 'Ice Man' - Wim Hof
with the team from Lock In TV
at the Syria vs. Australia World Cup qualifier

.
Hi Fighter,

It’s Father Dave, and I must confess to feeling somewhat exhausted as I write to you today. It’s been an overwhelming month:

  • I’ve been trying to recover from my brain haemorrhage.
  • We’ve had much turmoil in the community (and perhaps in the church, most especially) over our government’s postal vote on same-sex marriage
  • Syria lost the World Cup qualifier match to Australia
  • One of my old friends has just taken his own life

Thankfully, not all of these struggles has ended badly. Indeed, as regards my recovery from the brain injury, my progress has been nothing short of miraculous. Last week I fronted up to the doctor’s office armed with the results of both and MRI and a CT scan. This was the same doctor who had told me a few weeks earlier that my boxing days were over. This time, after looking at the results and shaking his head, he ticked ‘fit to box’ on the appropriate form.

I give thanks to God for healing my brain so that I can fight again. I’ve been feeling rather lost over the last month, wondering how else I can raise money. As I often say, I can only do two things well – preach and fight – and I can’t see anyone handing over big dollars to hear me preach. Anyway, those concerns are behind me for the moment, though the painful thing is that both the fights I had scheduled were cancelled during my recovery period.

When the injury happened, I’d been in training for a big show-down with Dave Birchell. This naturally had to be called off. I had another fight though lined up with Mark Bouris in late November at a PCYC fundraiser event. Unfortunately, Mr Bouris was rematched. I did ask them to hold off on rematching him and to expect a miracle. For some reason the organisers followed common sense instead. And so, I find myself ‘fit to box’ but, once again, without an opponent. Even so, I’m sure the Lord has healed me for a reason, so something (or someone) will no doubt appear soon and make the way forwards clear.

As to the same-sex marriage debate this country has been enduring, I feel it has been a despicable process. I have seen so much pain caused by this postal vote! It has brought the worst out of a lot of people – reinforcing prejudices and eliciting violence and vilification from both sides. It truly was a gutless decision of our government to encourage this process.

As you may know, I was urged once again to publish my views on the subject of same-sex marriage. The result was an article that appeared on news.com.au that has generated no end of hate mail, phone calls, lost friendships, and enough social media banter to fill a decent-sized book. The process culminated for me when I received a call from a man claiming to have been sexually abused by a priest. He was so angry about my Archbishop’s support for the ‘no’ vote that he said he just needed to scream at someone. He knew I wasn’t to blame but apparently nobody else would take his call.

Another distressing dimension of this process for me has been the damage done to my relations with the Muslim community. I had two inter-faith events planned for this month where my Muslim friends withdrew due to the views expressed in my article. One woman even said that her Sheikh now refused to enter our church building! That hurt.

I’m know that doesn’t represent all my Muslim friends. Indeed, I’ve had others affirm their love and respect for me, even though we disagree on this issue.

Sermon Time

Perhaps my sermon today reflects a bit too much of my hurt referred to above. Certainly, the text of Matthew 21:28-31 did tap right into the issues I was struggling with, though the connection may not be immediately obvious. It’s a parable Jesus tells about two brothers – one who is pious and obedient and the other who is rebellious and disobedient, or so they appear to be. First impressions can be deceiving, and maybe we need to be cautious in passing judgement on either of the brothers too quickly.

Back to the Bush

When the going gets tough, I get going, and my favourite place to go when I’m feeling under pressure is our bush camp – Binacrombi. Can you join me there this coming weekend?

I’m sorry for the short notice but this event has been a difficult one to organise. The camp was originally designed to be an interfaith project, bringing together Christian and Muslim kids in an integrated training environment. Unfortunately, as indicated above, many have pulled out, though some friends from the Australian Muslim Youth Association are now trying to see if they can get a new group involved! Either way, the camp will go ahead, but there is currently plenty of room for extra participants.

Just give me a call on 1800 620 706 if you’d like to join us. All the details are on the Facebook page as well as on the poster (which can be downloaded here).

That’s enough from me today. I’ve got plenty more I’d like to share but, in truth, I’d rather do it over a beer at Binacrombi. Of course, if our Muslim friends do join us, I’ll happily forgo the beer and substitute coffee. Either way, I’d love to have you with us if you can make it.

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

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About Father Dave Smith

Preacher, Pugilist, Activist, Father of four

Father Dave’s Missive – January 31st, 2014

Hi Fighter,

I got caught in a domestic violence situation tonight.

I think I handled it just right. It’s so hard to get these things right.

I was putting the garbage out and heard what I thought at first was kids shouting at each other. Then I saw a woman on the ground and a man standing over her and … I realized happily that I had my clergy shirt on. I adjusted my collar appropriately as I rushed to the scene.

The clergy collar has always proven to be more powerful to me than a superman outfit in situations like this. Nobody wants to punch the priest, and nobody wants a priest watching them while they beat their woman.

There was lots of shouting going on and the woman was screaming obscenities but it didn’t seem as if any punches had been thrown so I stopped about three meters short of the two and stood at right-angles to them without saying anything. From the nature of the shouting and accusations it was clear that they were partners (of sorts).

There was another woman involved (a friend of the first woman) who was also screaming at the man and probably wasn’t helping. The man had no shirt on but didn’t seem to be drunk. The woman would scream “give me my phone back. Give me my smokes”, etc. He would then throw the smokes/phone at her and then lean over and grab them back from where she’d dropped them.

None of this was done in an overly violent way though I was aware that things could degenerate into open brutality at any moment and I was only a millisecond’s distance from the man’s right hand if it came to that. Even so, I think that by standing where I was, saying nothing and so not confronting the man directly but evidently monitoring the situation very carefully in my clergy collar, I helped keep a lid on the problem.

The man eventually complied with the woman’s repeated requests, such as “f**k the hell off” and “get the f**k out of my life” (or at least with the first request anyway). He disappeared and she then walked around the corner. I took the opportunity to call 000 and the police said they were on their way.

The woman had sat herself down in a heap alongside our local Salvation Army store. I spoke to the friend who was all very grateful to me, recognised me as the boxing priest, and told me all about how God had spoken to her while she was in a coma. Our happy conversation though suddenly ended when she screamed “Oh my God, he’s coming back“, and sure enough he was coming back, and I turned to take my stand this time between the man and his target.

I figured this time that things were highly likely to get bloody but before the man reached us a paddy-wagon screeched to a halt alongside me and four policemen had the man on the ground and hand-cuffed within about 0.5 seconds! The man didn’t resist at all. Two of the police stayed with the man, one talked to the woman and the other came over to me “Hey Father Dave, how’s it going?”

This young Constable took down all the relevant details but he was frankly more interested in hearing how his mates were doing at boxing training (as I’m currently training three officers from the Marrickville Local Area Command).

It was a horrible way to end what was otherwise a quite night of domestic tranquility. I stepped out into a war-zone. Then I stepped back inside again. I’m not used to that now like I used to be. I think that’s how I learnt to compartmentalize in the early days here.

Feeding deer at Mogo Zoo
We still enjoy the merry-go-round at Luna Park
Festival of Sydney jumping castle at the Opera House
Imogen and I do dinner and a movie! 🙂
Looking for a chapel for Binacrombi

And so the school holidays are well and truly over and it’s back to business for all of us.

I didn’t really get a proper holiday myself this January but I did spend some lovely time with the kids as you can see from the above.  I also made some significant steps forward in terms of my New Year’s resolutions!

In case you’ve forgotten, I set five goals for this year:

  1. Develop Binacrombi as a place of contemplative prayer.
  2. Make a contribution to peace in Syria.
  3. Make a contribution to Palestinian statehood.
  4. Win a world boxing title
  5. Help each of my kids complete their years at school.

At the moment I seem to be moving forward in leaps and bounds on all fronts!

In terms of Binacrombi, I believe I have found my first Abbott – a true man of prayer and a legendary sportsman who can help develop the monastic side of our retreat without compromising our commitment to extreme sports (trail bike riding, boxing, etc.)!

We’ve also been offered a chapel that we may be able to simply pick up and relocate to our site. Of course these things are never simple but I’ve already been looking over things with a builder-mate and we’ll know soon enough what is possible.

I can’t give the names and details on any of the above until things are more settled but it seems clear that the Lord wants us to proceed with this vision. 

As far as Syria goes, plans are coming together very quickly for another mission that will probably happen this side of Easter!

Again, I can’t give you details at this stage but I can give a broad outline of what we hope to achieve:

  • Express our solidarity with the church in Syria
  • Take in much-needed medical supplies
  • See if we can secure the release of some prisoners
  • See if we can initiate boxing programmes in the refugee camps

No prizes for guessing who came up with this last idea. The exciting thing for me is that my colleagues around the world are as excited about the prospects of setting up boxing programmes in refugee camps as I am! 

And so far as my hopes for a world title go, it seems that I may have two fights on the horizon – one in Dublin and another in Syria itself!

Frankly, it doesn’t really matter whether there is any title attached to either of them. I have a feeling we’ll be able to accomplish something significant with those bouts if we can make them happen!

As to my fifth goal – helping my kids through school – we’re off to a good start! Two out of three are back to their studies and I took Francesca for her evaluation session for Kindergarten today. She will start regular classes on Monday!

Enough prattling from me for now about goals and achievements, but I think the above proves the point I made in my last missive – that if you tell people what your goals you are far more likely to move on them!

I’m still hoping that you might share some of your hopes and dreams for the year in the comment-box below. Go on! Be daring! Dream big!

Sermon Time

I’ve been preaching rather a lot lately so I’ve got plenty of sermons I could pass on to you today but I really want to share with you the one I did for the Feast of the Holy Family.

I’m conscious of the fact that ‘Christian values‘ and ‘family values‘ are often taken as being synonymous and that the Holy Family (Jesus, Mary and Joseph) are generally depicted as being the archetypal white, middle-class nuclear family unit.

A little investigation of the texts though suggests that Jesus’ human family was far from the ideal model that preachers of family values would like it to be. Indeed, I suspect that most family therapists would have found plenty of material to work on there!

I don’t know whether you’ll find this sermonic exploration into the family life of Jesus encouraging or unnerving. Either way, if the church is going to make pronouncements about what a Christian family is supposed to look like, this material needs to be taken into account!

[imaioVideo v=1]

If you can’t view this video, click here.

OK Fighter, I’ll be in contact again as soon as I’ve got the details of the Syria mission all worked out. We’ll be doing some fundraising and simultaneously launching Fighting Father Denning’s documentary movie of our last Syria trip.

Until then, I remain …

Your brother in the Good Fight,

Dave
www.fatherdave.org
www.fighting-fathers.com
www.binacrombi.com.au
www.israelandpalestine.org
www.prayersforsyria.com
www.zerocostwebsite.net
www.dulwichhillgym.com
www.warriorweekends.com
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!

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About Father Dave Smith

Preacher, Pugilist, Activist, Father of four

Father Dave’s Missive – January 6th, 2014

Hi Fighter,

It’s New Year’s Day as I start this missive and, as is inevitably the case this time of year, I’m reflecting on both the year that’s past and the year ahead.

2013 was a big year for me personally, for my family, for our church and for the Order of the Fighting Fathers.

Personally, I was able to travel to Bali, Malaysia, Lebanon, Iran and Syria, and I had the privilege of meeting two heroes of mine for the first time – Mairead Maguire and George Galloway. I also caught up with some wonderful old friends such as Mother Agnes Mariam and Dr Chandra Muzaffar, and was able to share in their creative work!

On the church front the year was somewhat dominated by the fire that burnt down our hall complex. We lost our Youth Centre and boxing gym and a whole lot of history that night, and the boy responsible still hasn’t been arrested! Even so, it was wonderful to see the whole community come together to support us, and both the Youth Centre and the gym are now up and running again on premises owned by our dear sisters and brothers of the local Salvation Army Corps.

On the family front, each of the children had their own particular struggles but each ended the year in good health and spirits (thanks be to God) and Ange started teaching full-time for the first time.

We shared a wonderful Christmas together. I know that Christmas is such a difficult time for so many people and I do not take for granted the privilege of being in a stable domestic and financial situation. I share with you the following Christmas pics in the hope that your Christmas was also an enjoyable (or at least a bearable) one.


Christmas Angels!
Our Christmas Concert
Our Christmas Angels steal the show 🙂
Our Christmas Pageant
Even the most professional performers need a support team
Carols on the Rectory Lawn is a great success!
Imogen and I lead the Christmas Day service


(note that you can hover your cursor to pause a slide and click to move to the next one)

I’ve been thinking a lot about the year ahead and I’ve set myself five goals for 2014.

I am a great believer in settings goals and sharing them with friends. I find that people achieve their goals a lot more often when they are shared. Perhaps it’s because the embarrassment factor kicks in? We hate the idea of failing to achieve a target that’s been made public? Even so, I’m told that more people achieve their goals even when they write them on a piece of paper and put the paper in a drawer – telling no one!

I’m making my goals public and am going to do my best to achieve each of them. This list is not exhaustive and contains nothing about rebuilding the Youth Center (which may not be completed until 2015). The list is nonetheless ambitious:

  1. Found a monastic Order
  2. Win a world boxing title
  3. Help end the war in Syria
  4. Help establish a state of Palestine
  5. Help each of my kids get through their years at school.

The last goal may well prove the hardest. At least it doesn’t require much explanation. I’ll give you a bit more detail on the other goals.

The Monastic Order

I have a real vision for developing Binacrombi as a place of prayer and reflection.

As you probably realise, Binacrombi is set up as a remote centre for extreme sports – primarily trail-bike riding and fight training – both of which may seem completely incompatible with a contemplative lifestyle. In my view though extreme action and focused contemplation are two sides of the same coin! We already have the boxing ring, wrestling cage, 530 acres of untamed bush, and a whole lot more there to cover the sporting side. What we need now is a chapel!

To cut a long story short, I’ve been talking to a certain Bishop over the last couple of months and it seems that he may have an old chapel that can be lifted from its current location and replanted at Binacrombi.

Of course there’s much to be done between now and our first monastic chant, and I’ll probably need to raise some cash in order to fund the replanting. Even so, I’m hopeful that we’ll have pews on the ground before the year is out and I’ve already got someone designing special monastic habits for me (habits that are light enough to train in).

What I’m looking for from you right now is a commitment to pray with me – not just in your bedroom but on location at Binacrombi. Would you be interested in taking off a few days or a week or even a month to come and pray with us in the bush? If enough of us start spending extended time in prayer out there the rest will follow naturally.

Boxing

Like most old pugs I’m feeling I’ve got one more good fight left in me. I’m sure there must be some obscure world title for 50-something year-olds that I can compete for! If not in this country then surely in the USA?

My first step will be to trim down about 10kgs and get back into fighting shape. I’ve given myself to the end of February to achieve this.

Syria

There’s talk of a major peace mission to Syria happening over the Easter period this year involving church leaders from around the world. I’m hoping to be a part of it.

Moreover, I have a more specific project in mind that I’ve shared with you before – teaching boxing to kids in refugee camps in Syria and along the Syrian border. This might seem far-fetched but I have a feeling that a number of high-profile boxers would jump at the chance to get involved if I can set something in motion. I’ve put it to prayer.

Palestine

As you may know, this year has been declared “Year of Solidarity with the Palestinian People” by the General Assembly of the United Nations. I am hoping and praying that this will be a decisive year for all Palestinians.

My hope is that we can again make a small contribution through our boxing. You will remember that we had members of the Palestinian Olympic team visit our Fight Club last November and we started planning then to sponsor a Palestinian team to tour Australia and possibly the UK as well. Who knows where this might take us? I am trusting that it will all contribute to the greater quest for justice and peace.

Those are my public goals for 2014. What are yours? I’d encourage you to make yours public too, even if only be sharing them in the comment section below.

Sermon Time

I’ve been preaching rather incessantly over this Christmas period so I’ve got no shortage of sermon material to share. I’m offering you today the one I did on the Sunday before Christmas where the Gospel text focused on the person of Joseph, Mary’s husband, who is without doubt the least dynamic person in the entire Christmas narrative.

We know very little about Joseph and he seems to contribute very little to the Gospel story. He is a minor character in a great drama, which makes him a lot like us.

[imaioVideo v=1]

(If you can’t view this video, click here)

Before I let you go today, fighter, I’d ask you to share a prayer with me for our dear brother Mordechai Vanunu – Israel’s nuclear whistle-blower.

If you don’t know the story you can Google him. If you don’t know my connection to Morde, it’s simple. He stumbled into our church one Friday night back in 1986. We became good friends. Then he was kidnapped by the Mossad!

This year marks 27 years since Morde’s abduction. 27 years was notably the same length of time Nelson Mandela spent in custody.

  • The first 11 of those years Morde spent in solitary confinement!
  • The next 6 years were spent in a regular prison
  • Over the remaining 10 years Morde has been constantly harassed by Israeli authorities, has been refused the right to leave the country, and was re-imprisoned for a month for the crime of speaking to foreigners!

On Christmas Day just past Morde once again appeared in court, pleading for the right to leave Israel and live a free life. As usual his appeal was refused.

My friend Eileen Flemming has put together a petition to put an end to Morde’s endless punishment. Will you sign it please?  It’s a small gesture, I know, but apart from prayer and petitions I’m not sure what else we can do for this dear brother at the moment.

Morde Vaunu and me in 2004

With Morde after his release in April 2004

One last thing please …

By way of an annual appeal can I encourage any of you who want to support the work of the Fighting Fathers to do so by taking out a membership at www.fighting-fathers.com?

It will only cost you $10/month and you get plenty for your money. As well as a great library of eBooks and software in the members’ area you get the privilege of being part of the greatest online community on the planet! You’ll also get to help me cover the monthly cost of maintaining our online infrastructure (which seems to get heavier by the year).

Please do consider joining the team but be assured that, either way, I remain …

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. Forgive this act of pure self-indulgence below but I added a slideshow retrospective of personal highlights of 2013. It was an amazing year!

I turn 51
February 17 - Imogen is confirmed
Meeting John Shipton (Julian Assange's dad) and joining the Wikileaks Party
March - We hold our first Binacrombi Boot Camp!
April - Francesca turns 4
Soren Lee turns 11
April 21 - the Youth Centre is on fire!
May - Welcome to Damascus!
Meeting Mairead Maguire!
Overwhelmed by the Grand Mufti of Syria, Dr Hassoun
Meeting up with dear Mansour again in Tehran
June - Guest speaker at the Muslim Youth Conference!
July - Mother Agnes at Holy Trinity!
Meeting up with Kevin 07 in Canberra!
Meeting up again with Dr Chandra Muzaffar in Kuala Lumper
George Galloway comes over for coffee!
September - Imogen turns 16
August - we reopen the Gym and Youth Centre in the Salvation Army hall!
October - Imogen and I go to 'Fight Night' at Movie World
Francesca makes her own scary Halloween mask
November - the Palestinian Olympic team joins us at Fight Club
December - the great Youth Centre bush camp!
The great Bali wedding!
Christmas Angels

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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!

Please follow and like us:

About Father Dave Smith

Preacher, Pugilist, Activist, Father of four

My not-quite-weekly Missive – November 5th, 2013

Hi Fighter,

Forgive my prolonged silence. I’m afraid I’ve just had my head down lately, struggling with balancing my commitments to the church, the youth centre, the fight club, the campsite, my websites and my family.

Celebrating some birthdays at our Youth Centre

Celebrating birthdays at our Youth Centre

Things are plenty busy at the moment as we get into the lead-up to Christmas. Even so, I’m gulping down a glass of Toohey’s New at the moment and feeling relaxed. I should add that beer is not normally my drink of choice, and neither is Toohey’s New my normal beer of choice, but this beer has a story behind it that makes it taste rather good. Allow me to share the story with you … :-)

A few days ago I received a surprise visit from Trevor – a local mentally-disabled man who roams the streets of Dulwich Hill day and night and is a warm and welcoming personality. I see Trevor almost every day but he doesn’t normally visit the rectory specifically, and neither does he normally have a friend with him.

“Father Dave”, Trevor shouted in his always-too-loud voice. “This is Hadi and he needs to talk to you. He’s just got out of prison and he’s got a few problems. He needs to talk to a priest.”  Trevor then turned and left me with Hadi – a short man of around 30 with a thin moustache. He eyed me silently while taking a drag on his cigarette.

“Are you OK, brother?” I asked.

“I’m a bit confused, Father”.

“Confused?” I questioned, using my best counselling voice.

“Like maybe I should go f**k some c**t up?”, he replied.

I tried to maintain my professional counsellor expression and nodded while my brain screamed “that is so NOT what I expected you to say!”

Indeed, it wasn’t just what he said that threw me, but the fact that he said it with such quiet detachment, as if he’d said “like maybe I should go get a haircut?”

Hadi explained himself further: “Like maybe I should roll some c**t”.

I continued to nod and said, “that sounds like a really bad idea”.

Hadi agreed. “It’s just when I get on the piss I go a bit crazy” he said.

It was at this point that I noticed that there were some bottles of beer at his feet. They were unopened but had clearly been separated from a six-pack, the rest of which I assumed had been consumed.

Drawing on my years of counselling experience, I responded with “then you’d better stay off the piss!”

Hadi nodded pensively.

I said “I’ll tell you what. I’m going to open the church up and I want you to go in and say some prayers and have a bit of a think about things and I’ll come back as soon as I’ve finished what I was working on and if you want to talk some more we can.”

Hadi was agreeable to this and I left him in the church alone.

I went back home and debriefed with Ange who suggested that I close the back door. “I don’t really want someone whose looking to f**k some c**t up wandering into the house if that’s OK?” I closed the back door.

I returned to the church building about 15 minutes later and Hadi had gone. I was sorry. Then I noticed he had left the unopened bottles of beer in my driveway!

As I say, Toohey’s New is not my favourite beer, and beer is not my favourite drink, but it tastes just right tonight! 

Sermon Time

Thinking of Hadi and me in the church together did remind me of a joke that Jesus told about two unlikely characters that bump into each other in the synagogue. It’s found in Luke chapter 18 but I don’t want to say more about it here as it will spoil the joke if you haven’t heard it before. Serendipitously I got to preach on the same passage last Sunday!

It may not be the funniest joke Jesus ever told but it is one of the most confronting!

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If you can’t view this video above, you can hear the audio version here or get the video with the full text of the sermon here.

Syria Update

I can’t let a missive go by without making comment on what’s happening in my beloved Syria!

The latest news, in case you haven’t heard, is that Israel has attacked Syria again – a naval attack this time on a military base near the Syrian port city of Latakia.

Of course (as with the four previous attacks) Israel neither confirmed nor denied that they were responsible, but this time the Obama administration made Israel’s culpability public! This led to …. take a guess:

  1. Israel apologising for attacking another sovereign nation without provocation?
  2. The Israeli government desperately trying to justify itself to the international public?

No. Neither of the above, but rather:

3. Israel expressing outrage and indignation at the US for exposing them! (read more)

I guess you can’t blame Netanyahu. High profile criminals never expect to be held accountable for their crimes nowadays. It’s those who expose them who are hunted down and made to pay – Morde Vanunu, Julian Assange, Bradley Manning, Ed Snowden …

Meanwhile, on the other side of the world, our dear Mother Agnes has begun her tour of the USA and Canada. On Sunday she spoke at the church of my dear friend Father Labib in San Francisco. How I wish I could have been there!

Mother’s full agenda can be found on the Syria Solidarity Movement website. If she’s coming to a town near you I’d encourage you to do your utmost to hear her. And please give both her and Sister Carmel a Syrian kiss on both cheeks from me when you see them.:-)

And whether or not you get to meet Mother in person, do please take a look at this wonderful pictorial that was put together of her recent initiative in Moaddamiya – a rebel-held city that has been under siege for many months.

Mother Agnes crossed the battle-lines, carrying only a white flag, and helped free 5,400 civilians and transport them to safety. You’ll find the story, the pics, and a video of Mother and Sister Carmel sharing olives with rebel soldiers and civilians in Moaddamiya here.

Mother Agnes in Moaddamiya

Mother Agnes in Moaddamiya

What’s On?

As I foreshadowed, there’s plenty happening in our part of the world at the moment. Even so, I am only going to mention one important event at this stage. It’s one that I am hoping you’ll get involved with –  the December 2013 Warriors’ Weekend Boot Camp!

We’ll be heading down to Binacrombi December 6 to 8. When I say ‘we’ I mean me, some of our Youth Centre kids, a squad from our Fight Club, a contingent from neighbouring fight clubs and youth refuges and … YOU! (well, I hope you’re coming).

It promises to be another spectacular experience, led by some of Australia’s greatest boxers – all with an aim of helping you find your engine!

A video says a thousand words, so If you missed the video clip that Denning put together on our last camp, click here (though note that it won’t play on a mobile phone).

I’ll be putting together a dedicated site and flyers and other promotional material for the camp over the coming weeks but why wait? Reserve your place now! An email and a deposit of $10 will do it! Total price for the weekend will be $110 (GST inclusive) and that covers accommodation, food and training, though not transport (though we can certainly organise your transport if necessary. :-)

German women's welterweight champion (Nadine) spars with Dulwich Hill's own Sol Egberime at our last Boot Camp

German women’s welterweight champion (Nadine) spars with Dulwich Hill’s own Sol Egberime at our last Boot Camp

OK. It’s time to wrap up another missive, but not before I share with you some family pics that I’ve taken since our last communication.

Most of these pics were from the wonderful two-day Halloween holiday that Imogen and I took last week – venturing up to Movie World on the Gold Coast for their annual ‘Fright Night’ extravaganza. I’ve also included a wonderful pic of dear Francesca wearing her scary Halloween mask! She made it herself!

Imogen at Sea World
Halloween Fight Night at Movie World - Imogen meets a zombie
I finally find somewhere where I can take a proper break
Fright Night at Movie World - Imogen and I are embraced by the Joker!
Francesca with her scary Halloween mask
Two beautiful redheads
Imogen and I take some time off and visit Movie World
Imogen and I meet one of our great role models - Mrs Puff -at Sea World

That’s enough from me for today.

Until next time we meet, I remain …

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!

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About Father Dave Smith

Preacher, Pugilist, Activist, Father of four