Merry Christmas 2023

(Last Updated On: December 23, 2023)

“In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a young woman engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The young woman’s name was Mary. And he came to her and said, “Greetings, favoured one! The Lord is with you.” (Luke 1:26-28)

Hi Fighter,

There’s no question as to what time of year it is. The tinsel is out, the lights are up, Santa is roaming the shopping centres (even if he’s no longer allowed to have children sitting on his knee), and our Bible readings focus in on that familiar story of Mary and Joseph and the trek to Bethlehem.

Though this Sunday is Christmas Eve, our reading from the first chapter of Luke’s Gospel focuses on a time at least nine months prior to Christmas Day, assuming that Mary’s pregnancy went the full term. Either way, the event marks a major transition in the life of Mary, who from this point forward must leave her old life behind, along with whatever hopes and dreams she had.

Mary had not anticipated getting pregnant at this point in her life. She presumably had never expected to give birth to a child such as the one her angelic visitor described. She is young. She is vulnerable. She must have felt deeply confused.

I remember a couple of years ago reading William Bridge’s classic work, ‘Transitions’. It was named one of the 50 all-time best books in self-help and personal development, and its reputation is well deserved. Bridges says that in every major transition in life there are three stages:

  • A letting go.
  • A wandering through the wilderness
  • A re-attaching

I’m going from memory, so it’s possible Bridges used other terms. Even so, I haven’t forgotten the three-stage concept as it rings true for me with all of life’s transitions. I had a major transition a couple of years ago myself, of course, when my family broke down and I ceased being a Parish Priest. In many ways I feel I’m still at stage two in the transition process – in the wilderness – though I sense that the time of re-attachment and new beginnings is near. For Mary, this episode depicts the point where she has to let go and begin her painful period of ‘wandering the wilderness’.

It is worthwhile, I think, to look the conversation between Mary and her visitor. The angel, Gabriel, has a lot to say. Mary has lots of questions.

  • Gabriel tells Mary she has been favoured by God, but Mary is confused.
  • Gabriel tells Mary she’s going to give birth to an important child and Mary asks how that could be possible.
  • Gabriel tells Mary that it will be a miracle, and points to a similar miracle happening to her cousin, Elizabeth. Mary embraces what is happening – “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord” (Luke 1:38)

It’s significant, I think, that Mary moves from confusion to acceptance when she is told about Elizabeth. Her life is about to change forever as she is thrust out into the wilderness, and yet she will not be alone. She will have a companion in her journey – her beloved cousin and friend, Elizabeth – and that makes it look manageable.

Christmas is a difficult time for many of us. Like Mary, I still find myself shaking my head, trying to figure out where my journey is taking me. For so many of us with fractured families and broken dreams, Yuletide joy is salt to our wounds. These periods of pain may indeed be a part of our transition towards something greater and more fulfilling. Even so, they can be almost impossible to endure.

Yet God gives us companions on our journey. As God looked after Mary, so God looks after us and gives us what we need in order to reach our point of acceptance. “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord” (Luke 1:38)

Our Sunday Eucharist

We shared another wonderful Sunday Eucharist last weekend. It was great to have Andrew Logan and Karen Hemming sharing the panel with me. Officially, it was the ‘Sunday of Joy’, though it was capping a difficult week for our world and a tough one for me personally. Even so, our time of worship left me with a smile on my dial.

I hope you find last Sunday’s replay uplifting. We dealt with some difficult issues, including the ongoing incarceration of Julian Assange, and we discussed an image of Jesus wearing a Palestinian keffiyeh and carrying an AK47. For all that and for a lively discussion of the Biblical texts, click below.

This Sunday we’ll have our beloved American brother, Dough, with us, and he’ll be joined by David Baldwin, filling in for Andrew Madry who is taken up with family commitments this weekend. I’m hoping too to get another wonderful, pre-recorded gem from the Netherlands, courtesy of Father Elias.

Join us at from noon, or connect through Facebook , YouTubeTwitterLinkedInor Streamyard. I look forward to sharing this 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, or, sign up at a monthly contribution. Choose either:

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What’s On? 

The calendar does look quiet this week, but that’s appropriate for the season. I’ll be doing my best to rest over the next week or two, and I pray that all of us will come out of the Yuletide season feeling refreshed. It’s a tough time of year for a lot of us. Even so, if you’re struggling this Christmas, know that you are not alone. As you confront the wilderness, be assured that God will find companions to walk with you.

In terms of things I’ve published this week:

OK. It’s time to get ready for my fight. It’s turning out to be a much bigger event that I had anticipated. For one thing, the AAP got hold of the story and it has been published in dozens of news media around the country and even internationally!

  • See the AAP’s original version of the story here.
  • See it in The Guardian here.
  • Google “Father Dave the fighting priest still punching on at 61” to find links to dozens of other media who have run the story.

Further, while I had thought it was only going to be an exhibition fight, I found out at the weigh-in that it’s a serious bout. In case you’d like to tune into the fight, I’m giving you the QR code below for live pay-per-view access.

About Father Dave Smith

Preacher, Pugilist, Activist, Father of four

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