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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