with our friends, Mimi and Andrw

Live without Fear!

“A great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that the boat was already being swamped. But [Jesus] was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they woke him up and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing? He woke up and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” Then the wind ceased, and there was a dead calm. He said to them, “Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?””.(Mark 4:37-40)

Hi Fighter,

What do you think is the opposite of faith? Is it ‘doubt’? Today’s Gospel suggests that the answer may be ‘fear’. This story of Jesus calming the storm turns up in each of the first three Gospels (Matthew, Mark and Luke), and the exact words of Jesus to His disciples are remembered slightly differently in each, yet the point is very clear:

  • “Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?””.(Mark 4:39-40)
  • “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” (Matthew 8:26)
  • Where is your faith?” (Luke 8:25)

Moments earlier it had been the disciples who were exacerbated with Jesus for sleeping while they were sinking – “Do you not care that we are perishing?” (Mark 4:38). Now Jesus expresses His frustration with them: “Have you still no faith?”

Fear is something we all struggle with. It’s also something that can be weaponised against us. Those who have read Orwell’s “1984” will remember ‘room 101’ where non-compliant citizens are sent and forced to confront their greatest fears. In the case of Winston (the main character in 1984), his greatest fear was rats.  In the case of our Biblical heroes, many of them had a serious fear of water.

The people of Israel were not a sea people. It was the Philistines who lived on the coast. Biblical images of the dangers of the sea are too numerous to recount in detail, but they go right back to the opening words of the Torah.

“In the beginning … the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters” (Genesis 1)

The formless waters are death and chaos, and the Spirit of God has to push back the waters to create life. Of course, in chapter seven of Genesis, the waters return, threatening to submerge everything again, and only Noah and his family survive. From that point forward, the waters are kept in check, but most of the Hebrew people kept their distance from them anyway. Those who ventured out – like the prophet Jonah – often paid the price. Great monsters, like Leviathan and Behemoth, lurked in those shadowy depths! The sea was something to be feared.

I don’t know if I have any Jewish blood in me but I identify with this fear of water. In my case, it probably goes back to the time I almost lost my eldest daughter in a boating accident when she was only three years old. It still makes me tremble whenever I think about it. And then I almost drowned myself a couple of years ago.

It was November 2017, actually. It just seems like yesterday. If you don’t know the story, I travelled to Manus Island in Papua New Guinea, where we broke into the Asylum Seeker Detention Centre at around 2 am in the morning. We came in by boat, following signals from the beach, made by one of the detainees with a flashlight. It was a great visit (captured in the documentary movie, “Manus”, if you haven’t seen it). The problem came when the local navy discovered we were there, and I tried to get back to the boat and escape before they caught us.

I still remember being stuck in that boat in the pitch dark, floating amidst the coral reefs off Manus Island, with my two crewman hanging off the side fo the boat, rapidly speaking Pigeon to each other. We kept coming perilously close to being smashed on the coral reefs, and I couldn’t understand why the boys didn’t start the outboard motor and get us out of there. It turned out that the ‘drive-pin’ had somehow fallen out of the engine, and one of the men was trying to use his hairpin as a replacement. I was the only passenger, sitting in the middle of the boat in my cassock, which is not something I would have been able to swim in, even if I had been a good swimmer.

I guess Jesus saved me from that one too. He didn’t calm the storm, but He did somehow allow a hairpin to bring a motor back to life and get us clear of both the reefs and the navy!

“Why were you afraid?”, says Jesus. “Have you no faith?!”

If we have faith, we will not fear. That seems to be the today’s message. Of course, this doesn’t mean that we’ll be shielded from dangerous situations. Indeed, it was Jesus who told those men to get into the boat and head out to sea, just as I believe it was Jesus who told me to go to Manus Island and cause trouble there. Jesus does not keep us out of trouble, but He does promise to be with us while we go through it.

We’re told that after Jesus calmed the storm and everything was quiet, the disciples were still “absolutely terrified” (Mark 4:41). The Greek text literally says, “they feared a great fear”, but now they weren’t afraid of the storm. They were afraid of Jesus!

Of course, the remedy to that sort of fear is, once again, faith – not so much faith in God’s power to save, but faith in God’s love for us.

Our Sunday Eucharist

We had another great Sunday Eucharist last weekend. Special kudos to Andrew Logan who joined Karyn Hemming and me on the panel all the way from Rottnest Island in Western Australia. Andrew was there with his partner, Gigi, who was running a marathon around the island. We were broadcasting while Gigi was about halfway through the run.

The bizarre detail Andrew shared with us was that unless Gigi finished her run in roughly the same time she did when she last competed (some years earlier), they would miss their ferry back to the mainland and would likewise miss their flight back to Sydney! Happily, Gigi completed the race in good time and they are both safely back home. 😊

I’ve only extracted two shorts this time from last Sunday’s session. The first raises the question of whether God can really have a change of mind. The second looks at the sense of humour of Jesus. Enjoy them both. The full broadcast is at the end.

This Sunday I’m looking forward to having my old friend, Dr Andrew Madry, back with me on the panel, along with my good buddy, Doug, joining us from the USA.

Andrew just completed his role in the Canberra-based enquiry into excess deaths, and from there he went straight into a hip operation! We pray he will be in good shape, and I pray we’ll also have Father John join us with another pre-recorded homily from the Netherlands. It should be a great session, so please join us.

We will be be streaming on Sunday from midday at TheSundayEucharist.com, and on Facebook , YouTubeTwitterLinkedInand Streamyard.

I do look forward to sharing this Eucharist with you. 😊

Let me work your corner

If you’d like to see my work continue, please click here to make a one-off donation, If you can afford a monthly contribution, sign up at Patreon.comand choose either:

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What’s On?

It should be a good session at Binacrombi next weekend. I believe my old mate Grant ‘the Bomber’ Barker will be there with a team. I’m trusting that we won’t be cut off by flood waters this time. Do please venture out there and join me.

Freedom for Palestine

One of the good things about being in Sydney last weekend was that it allowed me to attend the march for Gaza last Sunday that ended up at my old alma mater, Sydney University. I caught up there with my old friend, Mimi al Laham (who you’ll see in various pics above). I also took the opportunity while there to interview a wonderful young woman – Grace – who had been part of a pro-Palestinian encampment on the University lawn for more than seven weeks.

The 1-minute short version of my interview with Grace is below. If you want to see the full version (5 minutes), it’s been posted to IsraelandPalestine.org. Click here.

Forgive me please, but I’m closing today with an appeal. It’s embarrassing to share this, but I must tell you that I am going to need a bit more financial help to keep this work going – Binacrombithe Boxing Academythe Sunday Eucharist, and this newsletter. To be frank, I need to find an extra $1,000 per month.

There are already thirty-one of you champions supporting me financially through Patreon.com.I am deeply thankful to God for every one of you. I love you and pray for you. Even so, I’m still not covering my costs.

If each of you who is currently subscribing at $10/month was able to increase your contribution to $50/month, that would get us there. Of course, there are multiple other ways, and I know that times are tough for all of us. I don’t want to be a burden on anyone, and I do believe that God has taken us on this voyage for a reason. I will not give in to fear. Christ is with us, and Christ will see us through. Even so, perhaps Christ is going to work through you guys to calm this storm,

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

Your brother in the Good Fight,


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About Father Dave Smith

Preacher, Pugilist, Activist, Father of four

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