Scotty still believes this stuff #2

I have changed, evolved, softened over the years but one of the core elements that has shaped my perspectives and activities that has not shifted is that it is what has taken place in history that shapes a geography. The connection between history and what we see is very strong. This is the case at a personal level. Visit a counselor and they will wish to uncover what has taken place earlier in one’s life to help discover the factors that shape responses and beliefs. What is true at a personal level is true corporately. From John 7 to 10 we read of Jesus in Jerusalem. Those four chapters will be in contrast to the final 3 verses of chapter 10 that I will quote in a short while. In Jerusalem, the ‘holy’ city that was there to be the place where salvation entered for the world, the response to Jesus was all-but exclusively to reject him. Only once or twice do we get a hesitant ‘maybe he could be the Messiah’, and certainly not from the powers that be. We read:

  • Jesus has a demon (7:20; 8:52; 10:20)
  • they tried to arrest him (7:30, 44; 10:39)
  • no prophet arises from Galilee (7:52)
  • questioned his legitimacy (8:39)
  • they declare he is not a Jew but a Samaritan (8:48)
  • pick up stones to kill him (8:59; 10:31)
  • he is not from God (9:16)
  • he is a sinner (9:24)

Not exactly welcoming him with open arms! The contrast of the four chapters to the final three verses is immense, with even the slow build up over the chapters to leave us with a clear picture that he is overwhelmingly rejected underlining in a few words what took place in a different geography:

He went away again, across the Jordan, to the place, where John was batptising earlier, and he remained there. Many came to him , and they were saying, ‘John performed no sign, but everything that John said about this man was true.’ And many believed in him there.

Geography, geography, geography. It is hard to put together so few words and to emphasise geography so many times:

  • He went away
  • across the Jordan
  • to the place
  • where
  • he remained there
  • many came
  • believed in him there

The emphasis on locality is unmistaken. And tucked in those verses is one reference to history: the place where John had been baptising earlier. The geography is different spiritually to Jerusalem. Earlier in Jerusalem it had been the city that stones and kills the prophets. That shaped the geography. It is the centre not of holiness, but of demonic bondage of a particular type. Across the Jordan has been exposed to the open confession and a baptism for the forgiveness of sins.

History shapes the geography.

In the same way that if we understand where a person has come from, what they have experienced we will often understand why they have made the choices they have made so if we understand the history of a geography we will often realise why it manifests in the way it does. The outcome, both at a personal level and at a corporate level, might not be predetermined (there are choices) but the bias toward, and many times the direct outcome, can be seen as a result of the history.

Of this I have certainly not changed at all. I am as strongly believing this today as any time in the past 20 years. I have also seen too many shifts take place when tackling some of the historical aspects. Bloodshed, divisions, wrong alliances, changing of boundaries, enslavement and the like all sow into the land, and what is sown will produce fruit.

I might add to this that I am more convinced now than 20 years ago that the Bible does not outline in some predetermined way the future (antiChrist, Armageddon and such) so am a strong believer we can, and are called to, shape the future. I resist the idea that we are to counteract what appears as a threat (Islam and the like) to our so-called ‘Christian’ freedoms with a militant response. Indeed such responses, for me, are fuel that increases the division and strength of what is feared!

I don’t think on this one that I have changed. It shapes so much of what Gayle and I focus on. We have sought out geographies, we have walked streets because of this passionate belief, and in our time in Spain on every aspect (bar one to date) of where we have gone to pray with respect to history there has been some direct sign that has occurred subsequently. Many times in the pubic arena, on TV or in the newspapers. And on the one, as far as I can recollect, that has not seemingly produced a direct sign, I don’t think we are finished with that one yet!

Yes Scotty still believes this. But there have been evolutions. Evolutions tend not to mark right angle changes of direction, but of development.

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Scotty still believes this stuff #1

I wrote a few days ago that Steve Lowton paid me a very high compliment when he said that meeting up with me encourages him as it makes him realise that ‘Scotty still believes all this stuff.’ Other than the disrespect of calling me ‘Scotty’ (beam me up Scotty?) I was very touched indeed and provoked to think about my convictions. On names I was ‘Marty’ in school and in most official places in Spain I am James followed by E-Scott as it is very difficult for a Spanish tongue to go ‘S’ followed by another consonant, hence I suppose E-Spaña?

I like to think I have not changed at all, other than of course matured. The probability is though I have changed more than I realise and have remained as immature as ever. The wonderful thing about being a #8 on the enneagram is the lack of reflection, leading to a ‘nothing to change…’ approach to life! I am sure I have changed enormously in my core-beliefs, and can certainly realise that I have moved from taking a fundamentalist approach to Scripture (6-day creation, no evolution, literal flood, literal big fish and Jonah etc.) when I was in my late teens, but if I focus on the past 20 years I will try and see what has changed.

I have no idea how many posts will result, so let me start with a few backdrops. A number of years ago someone helpfully used (out of context) Jesus’ phrase that in his Father’s house are many rooms. A Baptist room, a C of E room, a Martin Scott room etc. I don’t need to like all the rooms, and many of them I can’t even find my way to (a meditative approach to the Christian faith for example). However, I do not need to write them off as outside of the Father’s house. Of course my room and the ones I visit are considerably more important than the others!!!???!!! I am also aware that God’s presence is not a great measurement for endorsement. Even if I make my bed in sheol (and by implication the writer’s entry to sheol was not from pursuing God but quite the opposite) his presence will be there. Those two aspects are key:

1) There are many approaches that God embraces and he seems (if I can say so respectfully) crazily accepting, allowing them to be another room in his house.
2) God shows up all over the place. When he does with us we wrongly assume it is because we are more right than anyone else. His presence is not an endorsement.

So 20 years ago, post Toronto (now that was the beginning of a paradigm shift) I was deeply impacted and involved in what was termed ‘Sowing the seeds of revival’ at Marsham Street. Heady days with amazing testimonies and such a sense of ‘revival’ being at hand. Certainly I am deeply grateful for those days, and it is from that time I want to try and assess whether Scotty still believes what he has always believed.

The following year – beginning in May 1998 – I began to travel with prayer teams to cities in the UK. I was convinced that something that was present at Marsham Street needed to get into the cities of the nation, it needed to get on the road. I began to pray for cities to open, day after day. Then one day the Lord spoke to me (or I realised how thick I was) in that I could only go to one city at a time. I then began to pray for one city to open. Within days I was in Leeds and from there one invite followed another, eventually with Germany, Sweden, France and a number of other European nations opening up.

What did I believe this would accomplish?

1) Healing of land was essential. I began to see how historic sin was what shaped a geography and that unless the effects of yesterday were changed tomorrow would only look the same – even if there was a temporary shift and a revival movement would come.
2) That to see a shift a number of aspects would be needed. Identificational repentance (the strongest Jesus-foundation for this is his baptism) as modelled by the biblical prophets would be at the core, this then meaning that the powers that are both the manifestation of the corporate sin and attach themselves to that sin could then be ‘bound’ (meaning that their influence could have limits places on them, rather than obliterated).
3) The unity of the body – one church in the locality (local church not being church in the locality) dealing with the seeds of the sins of its community (anger rather than murder model) then would mean there was a real ability to effectively bind powers. By using the term ‘bind’ I am not referring primarily to some loud prayer that ‘binds demon so and so’, though I am not averse to that either! I am seeking to emphasise that how the body is will largely determine what is allowed (loosed) and what is forbidden / restricted (bound).
4) Slowly alongside the ‘healing of the land’ and the unity of the church in the locality I began to see that there was a thrust toward occupying whatever was cleared – so I tentatively began to talk about the spheres of the city / region, such as health care, education, business, the arts etc.

From Marsham Street of 1997 and the emphasis there on a sound that attracts heaven, through to the early 2000’s that was pretty much what I was committed to. Maybe a 1000 or so people joined with me and others such as Steve with these prayer teams and prayer walking.

So looking at the boxes of my core beliefs which ones does Scotty tick today? Probably all of them, I think, but the context of our world has changed enormously, so the outworking looks different. I was a late-comer to the intercession thing, so make no claims in what follows. I do believe the huge shifts in the world are not in spite of our prayers, but because of the amazing intercessory movement. I include not just the ‘good’ things that we see around us, but the many pressures that have come on the body of Christ in these past years. Also maybe some of the crap that has also arisen has been because we have not given serious attention to those things and been too pre-occupied with our own self-preservation.

I will follow up this post, as I am outwardly on a different track than the one that I began to go down in 1998. I have probably changed but I like to think I have only developed the beliefs I had back then. Maybe…

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An up and coming speaker

I am posting a video below of a speaker who if he continues in this vein I think will become very well-known. He speaks in Italian but you will be able to get sub-titles. Yesterday I posted on the dancing at valle de los caidos. Of course some with a religious bent (more likely a political bent) have really objected to what was said, and the dance has not been received as an ‘apology’. However one priest Joaquín Sanchéz from Murcia wrote an open letter to the two in the video. Originally published in el diario it is now on different web-sites such as:

https://iniciativadebate.org/2017/04/26/carta-abierta-a-wyoming-de-un-sacerdote/

Some quotes:

Soy Joaquín y soy sacerdote de la Iglesia Católica. Me dirijo a ti de esta manera porque siento un profundo respeto por los ideales que defiendes y proclamas abiertamente. De hecho, veo con frecuencia El Intermedio y he comprado uno de tus libros. Me siento identificado en gran parte por lo que expresas y aquello por lo que luchas. Lo haces, junto a Dani Mateo y el resto del equipo, desde el humor y te lo agradezco porque es una bocanada de aire fresco.

Their humour – a breath of fresh air… he goes on to write about what is a true offence to ‘religion’, giving an extensive list, centring on the social effects visible in society, including 28% of Spanish at risk of social exclusion. He actually writes that the valley of the fallen contradicts true religious sentiment and should be transformed to a place of peace:

La propia existencia del Valle de los Caídos es una ofensa contra el sentimiento religioso, debiera transformarse en un lugar para la paz.

And he ends with:

Quiero animarte y animaros a seguir en esta línea tan necesaria cuando el miedo y la mentira han entrado de lleno en la sociedad y en el mundo periodístico.

Un abrazo.

“I want to encourage you to continue in this direction, so necessary when fear and lies have entered so fully into society and the media world… An embrace.”

Not sure if his view is shared by the hierarchy but very sweet.

And one more piece of good news. Madrid have removed at the request of Germany a Nazi plaque honouring pilots who were involved in the blitzing of Guernica in 1937:

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/apr/26/guernica-massacre-madrid-removes-facade-that-glorified-nazi-role

Now to the up and coming speaker… he probably would endorse Joaquin, the priest that I wrote about above!

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Dancers who dance on injustice

We have laughed and laughed but have not missed the prophetic nature of the dance from Dani Mateo (a commentator and comedian in Spain). He rejected Valley of the Fallen as a place of reconciliation (would a graveyard with Jews and Aushwitz guards be appropriate?). He called it a piece of mierda (rhymes with ‘hit’) and then when threatened with court action against him he has made an ‘apology’ calling it el baile de los caidos (the dance of the fallen!!). He also has explained that there are different crosses and that the one at the valley of the fallen is not recognised by many Christians as a true cross (Dani if you read my blog – well done!!!!).

Enjoy!!!!! And I hope that Rog and Sue also enjoy – we had an awesome time there with them giving it a kick 2 years ago…

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An update…

I posted a few hours ago about the leaky bag with the salt and our small prayer time. Just after posting a protest movement has communicated via social media indicating it is time now for the corruption to be flushed out, so come to the same address (the same party headquarters that we went to yesterday) at 8.00pm tonight with pots, pans and spoons. It is time to flush it out. Maybe we’ll get along too.

Four days ago we are told ‘This is how it is and will never change…’ Today my faith is stronger. If we pray then possibilities open up.

In the next few days I want to post a little bit about my convictions. Steve Lowton paid me a very high compliment when we were together (they left today for the UK). He said the good thing about being with you is to see that you, Scotty, still believe this stuff! I do.. and am naive enough to believe Jesus’ death was for the transformation of society. So don’t have a pot nor a pan here, but surely we can carry something of the presence of the Peacemaker into all kinds of situations and pray let your kingdom come… on earth.

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This is normal?

We are in Madrid a few days and have been with Steve and Kathy Lowton. We have been privileged over years to follow their journey of faith, and for us it has been truly one with a capital ‘F’. They have made incredible choices and not flinched when self-preservation would kick in for most of us. Truly we are privileged to (literally and relationally) walk with them.

Our timing of being in Madrid has been very interesting. On our first night we were able to be in the right place at the right time when a well-known British journalist was speaking at an outdoor rally. At such outdoor rallies there is security and all speakers are on stage then off back-stage. He ‘happened’ to wander and we ‘happened’ to be in the one place where he wandered! A quick exchange and a few words of encouragement. What we have to do is sow what we can when we can… This journalist we know is one that has been held in prayer by one of our close friends over years. There has to be a new media. Not necessarily perfect, but one that allows us to see what powers are holding situations. This is increasingly necessary as the extremes manifest.

Yesterday we took a little time to pray at a political headquarters in Madrid. We are at a time when the levels of corruption being exposed is unparalleled in Spain’s history. As we walked I was informed that my bag was leaking salt! A quick ‘gracias’ and surprisingly the bag continued to leak salt. Salt – (the salt of the dead sea) used in Jesus’ illustration was good as fertiliser to promote good growth and acted as a disinfectant on all forms of pollution. Within a few hours a key resignation of one of the spokespersons from that party who is currently under investigation was announced. A direct hit!

Or so it would have been in the old days, and maybe the two are connected. I hope they are. The challenge though was that the day before at yet another protest against the levels of corruption in Spain, someone we do not know, but pray for regularly was one of the speakers and actually said that we have to push till Spain is free of corruption and there is a new Spain. He said, and naming the very person who the next day resigned… ‘if she resigns that will not be a sign, that is just the beginning, but we have to go deeper. That will accomplish nothing so do not see such things as signs.’ If those kind of events had happened in the old days we would even then have gone further than claiming a hit… not only a hit but ‘even the prophet had said such and such the day before!’

The day before we came to Madrid we had to make a trip to the bank to pay some taxes. As per normal we talk at length to the bank recipient who served us. We talk about corruption… she says to educate us, what you need to understand is 1) this is normal and 2) this will not change. Normal… we recollect my dream of the facades coming up and everything returning to what the powers called ‘normal’, what was actually termed ‘the status quo’ and ‘back to where they were’.

We are encouraged and are happy for our bag to leak salt! We are provoked not to simply accept this as a sufficient sign – though as a sign it points as to what is yet to come if we hold through. We are learning that the outworking will increasingly not be in the church box as we take responsibility for what happens in the ‘world box’. We are responsible, not for the choices that are made, but so that right choices can be made. We have to remove (bind the powers – take away their legitimacy) so that in the public space just shapes can be developed.

We have a long way to go with the shifts we are looking for, but the increasing tensions seem to indicate that we are in a time when change could take place. The dream I refer to put the release or rejection of change in the hands of the church with either the swing to the familiar or the willingness to walk away from the familiar.

We will leave Madrid tomorrow. Deeply encouraged, but even more so provoked. We will be provoked not to rejoice at what might / might not be a sign, and provoked till the word normal does not become a controlling word in the narrative for the same old same old.

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The alternative society?

I have been in the camp of the church as the alternative society. A people who were not nationalistic, and certainly not patriotic as they saw themselves as trans-national and bonded together in the Spirit. How alternative should they be? When I was 21 onwards I was part of a wonderful community where we shared much together, extended households, sharing of goods to some extent etc. Probably viewed by some within the wider community as weird, yet nevertheless a valuable and very shaping history. The hope was that the church – as people not as institution – would model something and the obvious attractiveness would draw people in. And there was certainly an ‘in’ and an ‘out’.

Western society has been, for many, a good place to grow up. We are not exposed to the wars, such as in Syria; there are opportunities for education; most of us are not starving. There are of course many stories also of oppression and injustice, of institutional violence, racism and sexism. From a global perspective there are privileges in the West, and within that there are those who have been highly privileged. The wealth and power gap is enormous, which does not make those at the top evil, but does indicate something about the system that is at fault. That certainly would seem to be the case if we allowed the 8th Century prophets to critique us. And it is always a challenge as to to who to target: the top 1%, or do we draw the line at the top 10% – then that gets very uncomfortable indeed.

Cracks to a collapse?

If, as many of us suspect, the cracks that are all over Western society are indicative of a level of potential collapse how do we respond? Prophetic critiques of collapse have always been there. A cursory reading of Revelation gives us the collapse of Babylon in a day! Yet Babylon (as symbolised by Rome at the time) did not collapse in a day. In the big scheme of things the days of the glory of Rome certainly suffered immensely, and the ‘merchants’ and ‘sea captains’ would have mourned as many were affected. Yet ‘Babylon’ continued and continues. We SOOOO live in a tension. Scripture continues to declare collapse on all Babylonish systems and yet we continue to live within them. My take is that every small collapse is part of THE collapse that is to eventually manifest. Every step forward is a small picture of the millennium. In one sense they never fully come, neither the collapse of Babylon nor the millennium. One day they will fully and finally come at the parousia. Anyway that is my take!

In the ‘before that time’ we will have partial collapses, manifesting in greater measure at times, and partial manifestations of the peace and health of the age to come. And maybe there are times that see them both happening together. I am so hesitant to make comment on aspects I do not understand, and refer to the angst over health-care in the USA, but living in the UK as I did for the majority of my life, the health provision was phenomenal. As a wage earner to pay into a nationalised system and to get whatever we needed out of it was incredible. Not to face insurance issues when, for example, Sue was diagnosed with cancer, was a blessing with a capital ‘B’. Now there seems to be a challenge on the future of the NHS, and perhaps a move to make health care eventually subject to market forces. For those, like Andy Knox, who is a great voice within that sphere, I am sure there are many challenges, and not simply practical but theological.

Do we have faith, should we have faith to work within, or is our faith for all Babylonish systems to collapse?

So after a few paragraphs I am getting to the point of this post! Here are some bullet points that would need a lot of expansion:

  • There are collapses of dominating systems that take place at key times of history. Those collapses are not total, they give way to space for something new to rise (or maybe to come down from heaven) but at the same time there is a re-grouping and fresh systems seem to develop. Some people who benefitted from the former centralised control seem to transform themselves and appear at the centre of the new structures also.
  • As believers we ultimately look for something to come down from heaven at that time, and have to be clear of any investment in the dominating system that gave us security.
  • That we are of a different spirit… part of an alternative society value-wise.
  • That we understand that the call of the church is not to pull everyone into an alternative society but to be the salt so that society becomes an alternative society. This has been the theme that I have sought to pursue of the ‘church as royal priesthood’.
  • We take responsibility for the future. I think we could see greater collapses, and more of heaven come down if we did so in reality. Our task is to take responsibility for the shape, so that there is an opportunity for something to rise (come down?) that helps society. Gayle and I, carry at some level, a sense of responsibility for the political well-being of Spain. This does not mean we support a party, or look for perfection, but want to hold space where a new future can arise.
  • And a new future is what we are looking for in the West and beyond. Too many want something from the past. The language of independence, and of nationalism, of ‘making our nation great’ etc., (and I am not referring to the USA here, but to the strong winds blowing across Europe that have not blown for some 50 or more years) that seems to be backed by believers does not bode well. By eschatological definition change comes from the future, from heaven, from the throne, and comes down. All alternative societies have to draw from that.
  • I consider that believers are the key to the world. The same as Israel was to be a prayer house for the nations, but had become a den of robbers – which raises the question who were they robbing? Selling ourselves into a nationalism is dangerous. Leaving a Scottish identity, and leaving a UK identity has been invaluable, but only in that they are part of the bigger picture of entering into a ‘royal priesthood’ identity for the world. It can only lead to a prayer that whatever society I am part of becomes a greater giver of life than ever before for the marginalised.
  • This is a time of incredible shift. Keeping buoyant faith alive is a challenge. Not faith at a personal ‘bless me’ level, but faith at a transformation of society level. That faith is essential as we see only partial collapses, and only partial shifts of society truly becoming an alternative to the consumerist, power-driven one that feeds from and feeds Babylon.
  • And growing faith – through losing self-preservation – that we can see greater collapses than before and more transformation than before will be necessary. Otherwise we will also be guilty of becoming a den of robbers. Personally prospering, becoming ‘great’ again, but robbing others.

This post set out to be a follow on from the last one. I have rambled in the process but end with these thoughts. Every investment today is a contribution to the final New Jerusalem. We invest into the Babylon of today to make sure it is an unfinished project and that there is a coming down of heaven to a greater measure than ever into our world. The fruit of which will be the marginalised will prosper and the knowledge of God will spread. That we take responsibility for the shape where God places us. We cannot take responsibility for the choices that are made, but we become responsible so that good choices can be made.

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This day a long time ago

‘Semana Santa’, Holy Week is quite something in Spain, particularly in Andalucia. Penitence features big time, and emotions relating to mother and Son are high. A school teacher told me that he had a close friend who is an atheist but every year is one of the many thousands who offer themselves to carry the ‘pasos’ on their shoulders and process through the streets. ‘Why does he do it?’, I asked. And the reply was it was a deep and privileged experience to see the tears and emotions on the peoples’ faces.

The first Easter when we were in Spain (2009) I was not happy seeing all of this, and Gayle with her wisdom quickly pulled me across the street while I was standing in the street to confront the procession… I have moved on from those days – after all I was way young back then! The shock though of the alien scene is what was provocative. I am sure there is also genuine faith among some who are attracted to the tradition and procession – same as with the Camino to Santiago.

Wright’s wonderful title ‘The Day the Revolution Began’ is of course all about the Easter event and its context. What kind of revolution is portrayed by the processions complete with statues, huge crowds and those hooded to mark the penitence surrounding the whole event? Certainly, for me with my background, it only portrays a cross that affects the spiritual, or maybe religious, part of life. But what about a narrow ‘evangelical’ gospel understanding of Easter? What kind of revolution is indicated in that message? Beyond that gospel we can have the ‘seven mountains’ of influence with its reliance on Kuyper and Reconstructionism, and of course a strong reformed theology of the sovereignty of God. At what point are we able to suggest that those are all ‘sub-‘gospels. Of course if I were to suggest that I would also have to accept that any understanding of the gospel I have is also ‘sub’.

I have had two provocative conversations in the past couple of days. One via email, where the issue of the Western world and how it is falling apart, with the cracks becoming ever more visible, raises the inevitable question of how much can we prop up, redeem the structures and how much are they simply to fall? I might not be representing the brief email conversation well, but the questions are vital ones for those of us who believe a revolution for the world began in Jerusalem that Passover time, and that the cross was not simply about making sure there is ‘a going to heaven ticket’ available from then on.

The second conversation was with Gayle who challenged my language that the body of Christ is to take responsibility for the world. I don’t think she was challenging the concept but the language. (Any volunteers to help me get her to a more compliant place????!!!!!) Language is so important. We might never get the right language and ultimately language is always co-opted by the powers to nullify what the language originally meant. So these two aspects have provoked me and in the light of the ‘sub’ nature of our understanding I will return to these elements in the next few days. I don’t plan – as if I could – to give anything definitive in response, but if there was a revolution that began, and we are in the midst of some of the greatest paradigm shifts, both in the theological / ecclesiastical realm, as well as in the world as a whole, I will at least give some attempt to some responses.

So on this great day… Blessed are the revolutionaries!!

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Time marches on

Relentlessly and often it would seem repeatedly. The rhetorical question of what history teaches us can be asked with some cynicism, yet the question makes a clear point. I have just finished the book Blood and Faith, the scapegoating, the xenophobia, the fear, the ‘alternative facts’ that were clearly at work then are alive today. The atrocities were moderated by those of good heart, and ironically through economic greed (and necessity) the treatment given to a people who were making a huge contribution to their land was both moderated (we need them to do what we can’t and won’t do) and also intensified (they are not us and they are robbing us culturally and economically). Sounds familiar?

Giles Tremlett (author of Ghosts of Spain) wrote today in the Guardian The absurd British-Spanish rivalry, from Henry VIII to Gibraktar. The first Brexit from Europe he suggests was with Henry VIII resulting from the divorce from Catherine of Aragon. He then tracks in broad brush strokes the British relationship to Spain through Gibraltar and Franco. The article concludes with

The suggestion that all this might now get out of hand and that gunboats should be used is a purely British one. Which seems as absurd now as Franco’s decisions to close the border did back then.

My first time in Spain – early 2000’s my prophetic input to a land I knew nothing of any depth about was that two major signs would take place when Spain was turning. Bull fighting would be banned and the British flag would not be flying over Gibraltar. I should have added and ‘pigs will fly’ but held back on that one. A few days ago article 50 was actioned. Negotiations regarding a ‘soft’ or a ‘hard’ Brexit will now unfold. The ramifications, the complications, and certainly the rhetoric will at times be soap operish. There will be some good reads to come from the pens of journalists.

History marches on. There will be resonances to past events. There will be enormous changes for individuals, but through it all the powers will seek to safeguard their economic interests, and that will determine the lines of who gets what, all confirmed by treaties (Gibraltar in history… and now?).

There are cycles to history. Not simply to let us learn that we have learnt nothing, but to give an opportunity for something fresh to occur. If the geography of the Samaritan well (Sychar, John 4) is the same geography as that of Genesis 34 (Succoth) the two passages make for interesting reading. Rape, unforgiveness resulting in anger and murder maybe locked into the land all kinds of issues that many centuries later were exposed in the noon-day sun and the conversation that took place. The xenphobia, objectivisation of the other, religious taboos were all confronted, and I suggest along with the history back to Genesis 34.

Cycles to history. The Brexit – right or wrong – is a sign that there could be incredible moves forward. Not a move forward because of ‘leaving the EU’, for at that level there will be winners and losers. Always are. But moves forward if we learn how to truly relate beyond our borders (and writing as an immigrant in an accepting culture I write as a privileged person).

Our prayer focus in Spain (and this is our year for Spain as the focus) will touch on the deepest aspects of the land historically. We will almost certainly this year have to visit Gibraltar. 711 the door in for what soon became the Moorish kingdom of Al Andalus, and 1000 years on with the Treaty of Utrecht (1713) confirmed which flag would fly over that piece of land. We focus as we believe that new futures can be found, if the past can be confronted and healing brought into it.

We could easily prophesy the changes that are right here now. 1517 + 500 years (95 theses and Martin Luther); 1492 – Granada, Columbus + Jewish expulsions. Yet all prophetic words are conditional. A new media… new ways of politics being done… and alternative economics… Possibilities right on the horizon. Changes that can take place will not simply be what we probably expect as sticking the label ‘moral’, ‘conservative’ or even ‘Christian’ on something does not necessarily mean it is Jesus-aligned. And changes will be resisted and challenged. History tells us that. And I consider that history has a living voice, as today sprang from yesterday, and tomorrow is connected to yesterday… unless we begin a new story.

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We continue…

In a short break from Blood and Faith, but almost completed it. A tough (emotional) read. The author does not suggest it is simply bad ‘Christians’ and good ‘Muslims’, but given that those professing Christian faith were the ones with the power the responsibility has to come down on that side. It does seem a number of the Muslims had found faith in Jesus and found themselves in a particular hard place. Thrown out and then not welcomed where they went. There is a report of a group sent to Tetuan who refused to enter a Mosque as they were now Christians and were subsequently stoned to death. Thrown out of their land to their death.

It was in September 24, 1609 that the decree went out for the Valencian communidad that all Muslims were to leave within 3 days. On 27th the bishop in the Cathedral of Valencia preached, praising the action of the nation to purge them of ‘domestic enemies who wish to drink our blood and take over Spain.’

The end-result of the expulsion? One-third of the population of Valencia (the communidad and not simply the city) was expelled. It did leave issues as many of the ‘moriscos’ were the stewards of the land. There are even villages in the mountainous areas that were left so desolate that they had to import people from Mallorca (complete with language and customs) to look after the land.

To this day, along with a bizzare number of other titles, the king of Spain carries the title ‘king of Jerusalem’. All a throw back to the crusading era. Just a title? Probably, but when the Spanish troops went into Iraq they were given a flag of the Cross of Saint James (Santiago) to go with them – James who is known as the Moor Slayer.

1517 and one of the issues that riled Luther was that of Indulgences. The church was offering forgiveness in exchange for money… however, indulgences continue in the catholic church. Probably the harsh abuses have gone, but the church can still give out indulgences to lessen the length of time spent in purgatory the other side of death. This past week we have discovered that there are a few places (five) in the world that can offer ‘permanent indulgences’. Jerusalem and Rome – no great surprise there… and three other places. Two ‘holy’ places. The first one Jesus went to (no prophet can die outside of Jerusalem….) to break religious power and the compromising relationship with Imperial power, so that Paul could set his face to get to Rome, the centre of the ‘basileia’ (empire) of Rome and from the law and the prophets proclaim the ‘basileia’ (kingdom) of God!!

Three other places – in Spain!!! Santiago de Compostela… and,

Santo de Toribio de Liebana one of the main ‘holy sites’ in Europe. There is probably evidence that it is from this place the squashing of the Priscillian history and the promotion of the Santiago camino arose.

Caravaca de la Cruz where two angels flew in and delivered a cross when a priest was holding back from demonstrating the eucharist / mass to a Muslim ruler!!! This is not a large place but last time there was a Jubilee (2010) over a million pilgrimages came to visit.

So we have a focus and some work to do…!!!

We are amazed at how at the right time what has been tucked away somewhere hidden gets revealed.

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