Europe’s opportunity

Yanis Varoufakis writing at SocialEurope.eu makes some insightful points and worth a ponder. He suggests:

The duty of progressive Europeans is to reject both: the deep establishment at the EU level and the competing nationalisms ravaging solidarity and common sense in member states like Spain.

The Catalonia crisis is a strong hint from history that Europe needs to develop a new type of sovereignty, one that strengthens cities and regions, dissolves national particularism, and upholds democratic norms.

in the article he also highlights the approach of Ada Colau in Barcelona, who is pushing for a redemptive way through the current lock up. As mayoress of Barcelona her administration had created excellent housing for 15,000 refugees only to find that central government barred entry to the refugees. It is always amazing what is termed illegal by those in control (referendum = illegal; banning refugees that Spain was mandated to accommodate by the EU is not illegal?).

It is naive to think that anyone – Colau or whoever, or proposals of a new approach – by Varoufakis or whoever, will produce heaven on earth – as if!! But when we understand that the body of Christ is to open space so that it can be occupied by those who will create shapes for convivencia there are exciting possibilities that open up. This I believe is one of the central thrusts for this time, and is part of the recovery of the radical social outworking to the Pauline gospel.

SHARE ON:

Optimism is the first option!!

Half full or half empty? There is a lot to be pessimistic about such as climate change and seemingly endless conflict across the world. No person in their right mind can be naively optimistic given the unbelievable human capacity for stupidity. Yet on some issues and situations I am optimistic. The EU with all its failings has one of its major sources in the vision of Robert Schuman, who pulling on his Christian take believed that we had to find a way of being together across the continent where the (world) wars had ravaged, in order to avoid such conflicts again.

Since moving to Spain our focus has been on the healing of the land. (So glad that there are things that are not main stream for us and those things are down to others to pick up. We all have whatever focus is given to us.) We have touched on the civil war and on some of the prayers could pinpoint newspaper headlines where a straight line could be drawn from what we have prayed to what they have printed. This past year has been very profound for us with the Muslim rule and subsequent ReConquista and expulsion being the focus. Few things have impacted us so much as giving ourselves to that. Now there is a serious conflict not simply brewing but bubbling up with hard to predict consequences. The Catalonian situation (and even what spelling to use is a challenge – Spanish, Catalan or Anglicised spelling?).

How do we read this? Well I am opting for an optimistic response, and not simply because it is easier and less painful but I do believe somehow that these conflicts are the consequences of prayer. By that I do not mean ‘we’ (how important are we!!!) have prayed and now look at how powerful our prayers are(!!), but that the Lord is way ahead of the game and there has been much prayer focused to bring the nation to this point.

Prayer into history does not lead to our straight line of answer. Wounds that are there are to be healed but the first step is that of exposing what is there. Seems to me there is a pattern – a handful pray, probably naively expecting everything to be sorted, then what they have prayed into surfaces (in the land and in them too). What happens at that stage is important. If it surfaces in them – or in the wider community of faith – how they deal with the issues will be very important. Every big issue has a leverage point in the community of faith. The leverage point is not at the same scale as what is manifesting in the land, but is of the same spirit (cf. Jesus words on adultery and lust; murder and anger). In the current situation it is a ‘Spain / Madrid’ is correct; or ‘Catalonia / Barcelona are in the right’. In other words it is a taking of sides. However both with Joshua at Jericho and his ‘are you for us or for them?’ kind of question, or our core prayer instruction from our Teacher – ‘let your kingdom come’ there really is no ‘Madrid is right’ or ‘Barcelona is right’. Of course there might be a ‘I lean this way because it is more redemptive’ but the idea it is right is a myth. This is the fault line that is being exposed in the West at this time. I see many appointments not being the answer to prayer in the sense of we now have our ‘person in the WH / #10 / Moncloa’ or wherever. Where did we get that idea from? However I can accept them as appointments to expose the lies the faith community that owns the name of Jesus has bought into – that faith community that has been claiming a kingdom vision for years!!

What is manifesting now in Catalonia is a divisive spirit. What is manifesting from central is a divisive spirit. One manifests as separation, the other as control but they are one and the same. We have focused on the Muslim expulsion – this was Spain controlling Spain (excuse the anachronistic nature of those words), Spain evicting Spain… we began our journey praying into the first Christian martyred by fellow Christians pulling on Imperial power, the death of Priscillian. One could be pessimistic. After all that prayer now what has changed?

What has changed is what was simmering below the surface and therefore would never yield to healing is above the surface. I referred to a pattern above. Something begins with believers who pray. Then things seem to get worse – NO they become very visible. In the current generation the issues get flushed right to the surface there being nowhere to hide. There are no political solutions, but there is a solution which begins with a pathway of humility. The humility leads to dialogue and through the dialogue solutions are found.

I have no doubt that Spain has a calling now to lead the way to find a path of humility for the sake of Europe. Maybe the EU has had its day? But Schuman’s vision of being together has definitely not had its day. That is a vision of convivencia, of co-habiting / co-stewarding the same space.

There is so much more I could write on the current situation, suffice it to say that the struggles will not go away quickly – and for there to be healing they really cannot. Conflict will be here in Spain for the next years. We have to engage with it, calling for the third way of the cross.

A few years ago we had a very helpful dream sent to us. Gayle and I were standing at our table looking at invites and situations from across Europe. We did not know how to respond to the person standing there waiting for our response. Eventually I looked up and said to him ‘We will go and talk with the man of Spain and he will help us make our response’. This past year we have met the man of Spain – Al Azraq, Al Avez, Priscillian and many others we could name. People of the land – and from that era the majority were men. We are now needing to open space for a new manifestation of the ‘man of Spain’ to rise. This will not be one person, nor male, but a new humanity occupying space, regardless of faith, with the humility and grace that will be recognisable as containing heavenly qualities.

Amidst all the conflicts, Spain and Europe is such a wonderful place to live. Conflicted space, at the small level we have here, is a creative space.

SHARE ON:

Convivencia

We watched the unfolding of the Catalan (non?) referendum yesterday appalled at the violence with over 800 injuries some serious. Glad to see that those who resisted did so (in the main) non-violently. It is never easy to be a law enforcement person in those situations, but the way the Catalan police behaved was very moving indeed confronting unnecessary force by police from outside Cataluña. The intransigent stances of central government and the separatist movement in Cataluña and the resulting clashes was at a level beyond what would be expected in any Western country. The video below will give some indication of the level of tension on the day:

No one is the victor after such a day. It was Wellington who was credited with the statement that the only thing sadder than a battle won is a battle lost. Yesterday highlights the deep wounds in the land, and (being optimistic!!) those wounds have to be exposed for there to be healing. We anticipate a few years of unrest and tension. Into that has to come the good news of Jesus that is intensely political. Not political in the sense of party politics, but in the sense of how we live together.

‘Convivencia’ was a term used to describe the era when there was majority Muslim rule in Spain and those of the three faiths: Islam, Judaism and Christianity, were living together. Whenever we look back we can often romanticise about a past era, and I am sure it was not perfect, but there was something taking place that was good. The repair of the damage caused to the land and the corporate memory of the (re-)conquering of Spain for the Christian faith and the subsequent expulsion of both Jews and Muslims is what Gayle and I have given ourselves to this year. If there has been any shift in that then what is beneath the surface will become very evident. As we travelled we became convinced that the Pauline Gospel has a message for society that is well summed by the word convivencia.

Words have some measure of intrinsic meaning but they essentially carry the meaning that is injected into them. In that way a word can change meaning over time, or be used in different ways by different people. We want to use the word ‘convivencia’ to express that the Gospel gives space to one and all to live together, with their differences honoured, and with a specific watchful eye to make sure that those who are marginalised have space to live. I would not consider that Paul was looking to ‘christianise’ but that he understood the church as royal priesthood for the wider world.

So we have been using the word as a shorthand way of expressing our desires for society. Maybe the word has always been in the vocabulary of the politicians in Spain, but over the past days, and yesterday in particular I don’t think a politician has talked into the Cataluñan / Spanish situation and not used the word. In the few speeches we listened to yesterday it must have been mentioned 50 times. Maybe we are now hearing it and it was always there, but I have my suspicions…

The word is now in the spiritual realm to re-shape hopes and release substance. At that stage the next element that happens is a strong attempt to colonise a word. In colonisation something is owned, redefined and rendered as a result powerless. It seems that when the word was used yesterday convivencia was fought over to mean, you have to live the way we say and that is convivencia!! Control and conformity, and certainly any confrontation or opposition has to be resisted otherwise convivencia will be broken.

Convivencia can never be shaped that way. It is something given away; it will result in messiness, difference, tension, conflicting ideas… but in listening and dialogue. It is a Gospel gift, for it is in God that we all move and have our being.

One huge aspect that first placed Spain on the map for me was in 2001 when in response to a question I made a totally non-pre-meditated response that Spain has no need for a revival history and that it was the only nation that on biblical authority could claim that there were first century apostolic unanswered prayers in the land.

If convivencia is a useful word, and if it is the outworking at a societal (political) level of the Pauline Gospel then we should anticipate a battle both over the word and the reality these coming years. And if there are a handful of believers who will see their faith as calling them to seek the true welfare of the city (polis / political space) these next years might just yield some very interesting results that could just smell a little like heaven. Not a Christian country (where did that myth come from!!??) but an environment where all can dwell – where the gates are never shut.

Yesterday was a catalytic day. Maybe this week Cataloña could declare independence. The narratives spun by central Madrid and by Barcelona will continue to gain traction. But there is another narrative, and we expect that narrative also to be spoken. It is not down to the church to speak it but to take responsibility for it to be spoken. The word is now in the the spiritual realm ready to re-shape hopes and also release substance.

SHARE ON:

October 1

Not many days left in September. Bought our first set of ecological logs yesterday for our wood burner, nicely named ‘the Hobbit’ (should be getting some commission for that mention?) as from the end of October we will be lighting up right through to March. Seems crazy haring had so many heat waves this year. A small change, but as we head to October 1 there is potentially a very big change in Spain. Spain is divided into 17 comunidades, one of the bigger ones and the richest is Cataluña with its capital being the well known city of Barcelona. On October 1 the Catalan government is intent on having a referendum concerning Independence. The central government (based in Madrid) is in total opposition to that and the courts have deemed it illegal.The BBC article gives a fair report on where things are at. It seems Madrid will not put troops in to Cataluña to block the vote, but there are very real threats of a significant number of arrests. Likewise it seems the Catalan government will not back down and last night the campaign was launched at a public rally. The president of the Catalan government, Puigdemont, even cracked a joke last night about all the legal action against them: ‘From lawsuit to lawsuit until the referendum.’

Of course there is history that lies behind all the tension. My take is probably very inadequate on it all but I will have a go. Spain consisted of a number of independent kingdoms, the two of Aragon and Castile being the most prominent and it was when there was a marriage between Ferdinand of Aragon and Isabel of Castile (1469) that there was a movement toward a unified Spain which was formalised in 1516. Cataluña was not a separate kingdom in this period but was subject to Aragon.

In the war of succession, the outcome of which is what gave Britain Gibraltar and the Spanish slave trade (1713), established the Bourbon family as the royal family of Spain. Cataluña was punished for its opposition to the Bourbon king (as was Valencia and Aragon), resulting in the Catalan constitutions being abolished and with it the Catalan and Valencian parliaments and their rights. The Catalan universities were suppressed and the administrative use of the Catalan language was abolished. Mid way through the 1700s the Catalan language would also be banned from primary and secondary schools.

In the period of the Second Republic (1931-39) Catluña and the Basque Country was given space and even favour that could have opened the door to independence. Franco resisted this, conquering Spain for Spain and for God, and he treated both Cataluña and the Basque country oppressively. Again post-Civil war the language was suppressed.

Not being a fan of centralisation, and certainly not being a fan of oppressive centralisation I have huge sympathies with the Catalans, but… living here in the Valencia communidad (the one directly south of Cataluña) there would be a strong sense that often what Madrid is to Barcelona, Barcelona is to Valencia. Cataluña would really like to include Valencia and the Balearics in this movement to independence. After all the languages are so close (much closer than Scottish Gaelic / Irish / Welsh) and the Spanish government recognises them as sharing one language.

It is hard to know how this will be resolved. Two pretty intransigent positions with a load of history behind it all. Having travelled as we have and come to the conclusion that ‘convivencia’ (sharing life in the same space and time / co-habiting) is part of the Pauline Gospel it was interesting to come back to a statement from Puigdemont that nothing will break ‘conviencia’ in Cataluña.

Rights and wrongs, and how much can ever be settled at a ballot box or politically? But the way of Jesus, that third way is what is so needed in our world. I have sympathies with Cataluña but whenever I seek to address the situation in prayer, it is hold back, don’t go.

SHARE ON:

Animals together

Jesus might have had a little twinkle in his eye when he sent out the disciples imparting an identity to them:

I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. So be as wise as snakes and as harmless as doves.

Apparently on the ‘wolf restaurant’ there are all varieties of dishes with lamb as the star of each dish: roast lamb, boiled lamb, barbecued lamb, lamb in salsa… They seem to just love eating lamb! Just a tad vulnerable I think.

It struck me the other day that if Isaiah has a value as a backdrop to so much of the New Testament we have two passages there that tie in: Isaiah 11:1-9, and the shorter passage Isaiah 66: 25

Wolves and lambs will eat together.
Lions will eat straw like oxen.
Serpents will not bite anyone.
They will eat nothing but dust.
None of those animals will harm or destroy
anything or anyone on my holy mountain of Zion.

For those who have followed our journey through the ReConquista we have come to understand that Paul’s Gospel had at its heart ‘convivencia’, and that the body of Christ as royal priesthood carries a catalytic responsibility for the society where it is located so that the society might be a place where at a real level convivencia is manifest. This is indeed a tall challenge when we look at the state of the world as we have it, but we would also contend that society has been hampered from experiencing anything approaching convivencia by the invasion of empire into the church. Imperialism draws on (supposed) external authority to legitimise its behaviour as the ‘good’ manifestation of power so as they can at least give benefits to those who comply if not punish those who do not comply. In Christendom terms it means we can name some nations as ‘sheep’ nations and expect increasingly for some kind of Christianised laws to be applied, allowing us to purify the land through increased border controls.

This is why we are convinced that there is a revolution (a turning around) that is at hand. 500 years after the Reformation there is a rooting out of imperialism. For empires to really shift there has to be a shift in the church. The breaking free from the paradigm of ‘the few at the centre who shape the future, promising benefits to those who comply, while in reality the benefits make their way back to the centre.’ At the last supper Jesus set the pattern of breaking the centre. He gave himself away, including to Judas, thus any former centre had been dissipated. Pentecost follows the same pattern – on all flesh, and with an emphasis on the margins. The margins became the new focus – hence not a hope of a rebuilt temple in Jerusalem!

In these days something has to be pioneered, and maybe the place where this could take place is in ‘secularised’ Europe. I consider it is certainly easier to see such a shift in a place where the church is already marginalised. Easier never to dream of being a centre when without power, than of having a key place at the table of power (early church vs. post-Constantine). All that has to be dealt with is ‘fear’ and all that needs to be increased is faith.

Lambs among wolves – that is a fear inspiring identity, and requires a faith increase.

Convivencia – the lamb and the wolf lying down together, eating together. The vision of the kingdom, a vision of convivencia. Sadly, as we have seen in the ReConquista, the wolf identity was too often taken by those who claimed to follow Jesus. At best we end up with wolf against wolf (war) and at worst the followers of Christ place on the table their ‘enemy’ to eat: a complete reversal of the Jesus’ paradigm.

This next phase will require faith at a new level, and with it many changes of paradigm. It will require mission being understood as relocation. Sent among. It will require witness more than evangelism. Or maybe evangelism will not be something done but something proclaimed – a new order of being and relationship, and that will have to be witnessed to. It will require an understanding that we are not here to get as many out of the world into the church, but as much of heaven into the world.

There are many ways this can be expressed. Of late the understanding of Israel and then the church as royal priesthood has been illuminating. The pursuit of the path toward nationhood by Israel marked her failure, and the alignment of church with Imperial power so that there was a mutual endorsement of each other likewise marked her failure. But if we can recover the vision of this being God’s world, and that there is a redeemed people so that the presence of heaven might be beyond that redeemed people (‘the two hands of God’ as per the early church fathers) we will see a profound shift and progress. Maybe if we can embrace new paradigms more opens up than is closed down. Of course we will lose something – our specialness in the wrong sense; an understanding of grace as salvation as opposed to a gift-calling to serve and to lay down one’s life; a shift from power to love; from the taking of life to the giving of life.

Royal priesthood as calling, or maybe we can suggest it will manifest as a true convivencia. Space opened up where all can live together, where hospitality reigns, where it is not dependent on age, gender, race nor religion. Holding that space in humility with the clarity that Jesus alone is the way to the Father is a challenge. He exhibited what it was to create convivencia. Those who set themselves against that were the religious exclusivists, those who would not give hospitality would find that their future would be harsher than that of Sodom. The way of Jesus is not one way among many, but it is the way for the many to live together.

Challenging days ahead. But as lambs we have to be.

SHARE ON:

Posting a good quote

We are in Gibraltar and making a plan or two. While on the road we have read a little of The Day the Revolution Began and a few days ago we read Wright in the opening paragraphs of a chapter on Romans. These depth contained in these few sentences slowed us right down:

The primary human problem that Paul notes in Romans 1:18 is not “sin”, but “ungodliness”. It is a failure not primarily of behaviour (though that follows), but of worship. Worship the wrong divinity, and instead of reflecting God’s wise order into the world you will reflect and then produce a distortion: something out of joint, something “unjust”. That is the problem, says Paul: “ungodliness” produces “out-of jointness,” “injustice.”

For us very profound. And if our paradigm for God’s core is ‘power’ then we head in one direction, if ‘love’ then the direction changes…

SHARE ON:

God works…

In all things God works. I do not consider that we read the text as ‘God works’ in the sense of he is the author of all things, but he will work in and through all things. I a day’s time we leave again and will probably be off-line to some extent. Since coming home two events have occupied our thoughts: the Barcelona attack; and a very disturbing new video from Dayesh post-Barcelona. I have watched some of it, but it is too gruesome to watch it all. It would not feed faith to watch it.

All of us have to follow our convictions. My convictions are not someone else’s and I will only be held accountable for following what I believed. Have we made any contribution these past months to enabling God to be at work in and through all these events? Maybe our prayers made a small contribution to limiting the extent of the attack, but we will never know. We have certainly been impacted by the (imperfect) convivencia from the history, and have become convinced that part of the Pauline Gospel consists of the imagination being stirred to believe we can all live together. (This would be one of the reasons why Israel should of all places on the earth be a place for true convivencia – but in that little side sentence I have raised just a few questions!).

In Barcelona there was a 3 year old that was killed. The father said:

Necesito abrazar a un musulmán (I need to embrace a Muslim).

An Iman from outside Barcelona had attended the minute’s silence and was deeply distraught. In response, the father of Xavi embraced and consoled the Iman. He also said that he did not want the Muslim community to have fear of reprisals.

If we are making any contribution I will choose to watch and read these responses, rather than watch a Dayesh video, or read of revenge from a non-Muslim source. We have one life and finding where God is at work is so important.

Here is the link to the article and in the video form 1:00 on you can see the two embracing:

El Periodico.

SHARE ON:

Barcelona – a back story

A thank you to all who have written to us about Barcelona. We were provoked to start an extensive set of travels through Spain this year of 2017 as we knew due to the history Spain was rife for terrorist attacks. Even without that threat the history had to be addressed. We cannot say, ‘It was a long time ago’, or ‘they were not real Christians’. We have to take the responsibility that the Lord shows us. We of course ask, and will continue to ask questions – are we pulling strong enough, are there elements we are missing etc. We do not ask them from a guilt perspective, but from a responsibility angle.

Our first foray was to the north and one of the key places was San Toribio de Liebana. This Noe considers is the real source for the ReConquista, the place where civic and church powers came together and some 700 years later the final kingdom of Granada falls. Noe wrote to us yesterday, I include his notes below, pointing out so much – what struck him is the attack came from Don Pelayo street, the king who was behind that agreement in San Toribio. Note also his comment on the place of the attack – the same place where there was a battle ground in the Civil War. We are finding a lot of overlay from the ReConquista and the Civil War.

Noe & Loli are from a Spanish church down the road from us. We have worked with them in the prayer journey, and they have been absolutely invaluable to us. As those of the land we value them enormously. They have been in Barcelona. With Samuel Rhein, Noe and Loli took us to the place where the ReConquista started – the agreement of church and civil powers. We are grateful for what did not take place as Noe outlines.

Noe’s email:

What Can I say? My family and myself arrived to Barcelona last Sunday for short holidays. We came last year and my daughter wanted to come again. We are in love with Barcelona!

We wanted to visit La Sagrada Familia (Gaudí cathedral) and Downtown (Barrio Gótico, Ramblas, Raval). We have been walking by La Rambla for the last 3 days. Just 1 day before the attack we were at the very place at the same time.

We live 480 km from Barcelona.

It is evident that Barcelona is a multi-ethnic tourism hosting international city with the biggest percentage Muslim community in Spain.

We stayed at a friends house in Tarragona, next to the second attack place, Cambrils.

FEELINGS: Just arriving I felt something weird. I felt it gonna be an attack 2 days before but I rejected it in my mind. Just a thought cross my mind. At the same time Loli was feeling that Barcelona will be a place of visitation and revival, all these days.

I shared with Martin & Gayle about the oppressive atmosphere I was feeling for the first time in Barcelona. (Note: Noe sent us a photo of a St. George statue – his presence is so often an issue where there is racism and division.)

THE FACTS: 2 days ago there was an explosion in a little town called Alcanar. It’s the first town of Catalunya after Castellon province of Valencia.

I saw a TV program years ago because it just the border between Catalunya and Valencia and they were demanding to change to Valencia because Vinaros is a big city next to them but is in Castellon. They wanted to change for health and other services.

When I was driving back we went by national road instead AP7 and went by Alcanar. That name came to my mind strongly and I remembered the TV program.

Recently Police has discovered the terrorists has come from Alcanar (210 km far From Barcelona) and the explosion it was because they were manipulating 20 gas butano cannisters to create large bombs inside the vans for Barcelona!!!

If the explosion did not happen Alcanar explosion maybe today we would have so far more than 14 dead people!

That explosion killed 2 of the terrorists and originated the quick attack in Barcelona. They rented 3 vans and due the explosion they just used one. The terrorist attack were planned to be huge.

Thanks God it has been “nothing” compare with they wanted to be.

THE PLACE: The first terrorist attack happened in La Rambla. Maybe the most touristic place in Barcelona. An ancient Avenue with a central promenade packed with tourists from all around the world.

Something that got my attention is that the attack came “from” Don PELAYO street!! Is from where the vehicle entered the Rambla.

Don PELAYO is the King who originated the Reconquista. He was a key character in our prayer trip to Santo Toribio (North Spain).

Pelai in Catalán.
Pelayo in Spanish
Pelagic in English:

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pelagius_of_Asturias

The attack happened in the same place of the battle inside Red Front in the Civil War. Anarchist against communist. That’s was the battle ground.

THE ANSWER: As I guess in places where happened other attacks some people blow the hate flame but most of the society has answered properly, even with a cry: WE HAVE NO FEAR

HOPE: On Wednesday we visited the Sagrada Familia (Gaudí cathedral). Something got my attention in addition to the beauty of the place. Suddenly a whole bus with Islamic women came into the cathedral. They look wealthy, I guess from some Emirates or another Arabic nation. But just the picture of a bunch of Islamic women coming in from the ‘Pasion’s door’ (name of the gate) with the sun rays (at that time), gave me a sense of redemption. After this, a Muslim women with veil came to the prayer seats, prayed and cried. Was one on the best pictures on the trip.

(At the passion door is sculpted the betrayal of Jesus. Judas betrayed Jesus for money and because he had his version of the kingdom of heaven, which included suppression of all opposition through the use of power. This is what motivates us to travel and pray – so when Noe wrote that this was the door they came in through that spoke very deeply. The Reconquista was motivated in part economically and the suppression of all who opposed the ‘kingdom of God’ was through violence.)

SHARE ON:

Own our story

I write the morning after the Barcelona attack, taking a brief pause in writing up our recent trip. (we have been this morning planning our next trip which we think will take us into Portugal en route to Gibraltar… another story.) A while back I watched a TED talk by Bren Brown (her web site here) on her own journey and research. Into the current violence she makes a very profound case for – if we do not own our story it will eventually own us, but if we can own it then we write the ending of the story. True personally and also corporately.

She recently reflected on Charlottesville – I make no comment on that as I do not live that side of the Atlantic, although if there is sin in the land it came from this continent here. I am also no great authority on Spain, its history and story. I simply suggest that maybe the ‘brother against brother’ might be a recurrent theme with a deep wound in the Priscillian incident being the first Christian to be killed by fellow Christians pulling on Imperial power.

To own one’s story we have to get perspectives from others (the other?). If we are part of the dominant side, the ones who write the history, then it is very difficult to hear the story from the underside. It is easy to see that the Civil War ends in Spain and the Valley of the Fallen is proclaimed to be a sign of reconciliation with people from both sides buried there. However, from the underside it would be like burying Auschwitz victims alongside Nazi persecutors, then proclaiming the past has been dealt with.

In travelling Spain it has been interesting to research using both English and Spanish sites. Often the big sweep of the Spanish sites will gloss over what went on. Thankfully in the years we have been in Spain issues surrounding the Civil War, the Inquisition, and even to some extent the Muslim expulsion have been covered with increasing honesty. This is vital for any forward movement.

We don’t know the stories of the terrorists who were involved in Barcelona, nor do we know the story they bought into but, for sure, some of what we are seeking to pray into will be a contributing element. It leaves us with a deep conviction that we have to continue, and also asking the question whether we began on this journey too late and have done too little thus far. We are not asking that from a guilt perspective, just a sobering one as there are responsibilities that we all carry.

Our prayers last night were for the police as well as the families involved. Sad today that so many have lost their lives, including the terrorists who departed this planet never having discovered the reason for which they were born. Yes, we need law and enforcement, but their job should be much easier if we can hold the space where true reconciliation can take place. We knew that if we did not do this journey of prayer that there would be terrorist attacks this year in Spain. The news has reflected these past months more arrests than before… but last night was yet again a sobering call.

SHARE ON:

Sierra de la Espada

It can be challenging tracking down where certain events took place and also the driving can be challenging too, but the views in the mountains – the only challenge there is to keep one’s eyes on the road while taking in the view!

One of the clues as to the position of the massacre is a ridge called the Barranco de los Muertos. In typical fashion the Muslims had grouped together to avoid slaughter, forced conversions or exile in the interior mountainous regions. The initial unsuccessful attempt was from Segorbe in the South but the forces were repelled. Then an army was assembled from the north at Onda and advanced on Alcudia de Veo and then beyond. This was a European army, with the backing of king and pope and viewed as a crusade. ‘All eyes in Europe’ were on this crusade and when eventually they were brutally vanquished it was proclaimed that finally all European territory was free of Muslims.

sierra de la espada

With a bottle of wine in hand Gayle and I drove as close to the area of the final bloodshed and found a place to pull off the road. Pouring wine on the ground (blood speaks, but the blood of Jesus speaks louder and calls for reconciliation now and eschatologically) we spoke forgiveness to the region.

Years ago I would have wanted to be able to defend such actions and prove that they make a vital difference. Now I hope I am less defensive and simply accept that they do. If the giving of a cup of cold water can seemingly make a record that is assessed in the age to come then I think pouring out wine symbolically probably does so too.

PS to Xativa / Alcala

After we visited Xativa and the day before we visited Alcala our friend Noe had a visit to his house at 10.00pm. It was a mechanic that he has both used to service his car and has befriended. The mechanic was coming on behalf of the Iman from the local mosque, asking if Noe would take part in a TV program from Moroccan TV on the relationship of Muslims and Christians in Spain! Noe was unable to take part, but the main pastor of the church took his place. The venue chosen was the church building and the backdrop the director wanted was the dove on the wall with the ‘Come Holy Spirit’ enscribed on it. Fernando was able to be both clear and reconciliatory, with one of the key people asking for him to pray for him after the recording.

Would that have happened if we had not gone to Xativa or pursued what God has put in our path? Was it a coincidence? Thankfully we will never be able to prove it one way or another. But it is so sweet when such coincidences happen after prayer – and they do seem to happen quite regularly. So here is to sweet regular coincidences!!

SHARE ON: