Breaking news…

Stock market crisis over the impending threat.

Hyped by the media or for real? We are told the stock market is reeling due to the crisis that could be a pandemic. It is what we don’t really know that is the issue. How many are fleeing war; how much extortion is there that is behind how many of those created in the image of God who are dying – in the Mediterranean and beyond. We can close borders but the stock market is rocking because we just don’t know how many people are dying and how big a threat it all is.

OK… made all that up. Sadly made it up. The markets are reeling not because of how many are dying but because the coronavirus does not respect wealth, and does not respect how we can ‘make’ money. There are so many more deaths that have occurred these past years to those who have desperately come to seek some measure of freedom, than is likely to come to the globe as a result of this current threat. Yes… money makes the world go round… round and round the old mulberrry bush.

I had a round-robin letter from our Spanish bank about a week ago. ‘No need to panic there will be no significant economic downturn’. I like to read between the lines – you have no need to panic because we are doing all the panicking that is needed. We have no clue where this will go, but please do not panic otherwise we are in trouble.

Having arrived home last night at the sweet hour of midnight, I only had time to send the bank adviser a piece of personal advice this morning – and I am so sure she was just waiting for my incredible wisdom. No worries, we all know money is ‘una mierda’. So I wrote a short little piece on her wall ‘Things are not stable… they will bottom out but the real crisis is not immediate but will increase in the autumn… We’ll drop in to see you in a couple of weeks… Yours ever so lovingly…. Martin’.

It is my bit of fun for the day. Here I am pontificating about the global economic scene, without any real understanding… maybe she was justified in using the ‘f’ word and ask me to leave the premises (with some humour) a while back. She has her job to do, and I told her anyone wanting to grow a business would employ her – she can sell the proverbial ice blocks to those living in Siberia in the deepest, darkest winter.

She has her job to do… and the rest of us have our convictions to live by, and to try to hold on to the legitimate money bag, the bag of contentment. Not always easy, and so hard for so many in the world. But for the rest of us the 5% who pull in three figures a month we do need to try to remain centred.

For any follower of this blog I have been saying for the past few years that come 2020 we will hit another financial crisis. I see 2020 – 22 as two years of great instability. But even that is a western, middle class perspective. And the past decades? They were full of instability to countless non-western, non-middle class people.

We will see at every level the façades opening again. My dream exposed how we – body of Christ – can just shut them all up. How about this time – cos I asked for volunteers last time but had none – ask for a major rebalancing of the economic world. For our fictitious wealth to go down so that we can see a shift. Maybe that will keep the façades open and see a shift. I do consider we missed so much in 08.

So no apologies for the fake breaking news. The crisis is not here because of the coronavirus, it is here and always has been because of mammon / Babylon. Time to see again the New Jerusalem that John saw. There are investments we make that have a great and guaranteed return. They come in the form of a cup of cold water given in his name.

The right question

Had an interesting 24 hours. We have been seeing this year as opening up new things. We have been in Spain 11 years, this being the beginning of our 12th. We think (good word… thoughts are where we stumble forward, walk as blind people (last post), heaven is MUCH clearer!!) that maybe we can see a pathway that opens that will set the next 10 years. And in 10 years time I might be ready to revisit the question Sue asked me when I was 39 . That question was ‘what do you want to do when you are 40?’ My reply, ’40 is nothing, I will still be bumbling along so maybe let me get to 55 and we talk again.’ Well 55 came and went, and as Gayle can testify, he was still bumbling along… so now maybe I can consider in 10 years time. 75 and a level of possible non-bumbling, a small semblance of wisdom and a poquito of maturity? Maybe… if not we just postpone it another 10 – 20 years, kick the can down the road… again. I have noticed the great thing about discovering how immature one is is that there can always be growth. Imagine having arrived at 40 to having already entered the ‘second half of life’ AGGGGHHHHH!!! So I consider I am in a good place as I aim to get sight of the second half of life around 2035.

Anyway the past 24 hours. First we had an evening FaceTime to a certain European nation seeing what might work for later in the year for us to be there. 12 hours later Gayle’s phone rings with an anonymous call showing up on the dial from the same nation. We presume it is from the night before and maybe with a further question or suggestion. But no, totally unrelated. Someone else had tracked us down seeing if we would have any space to input a (very interesting indeed) setting in April that is scheduled to take place in Madrid. Then a few hours after that a WhatsApp to see if a few months later we could make a contribution to another gathering, again scheduled for Madrid.

So the 24 hours… Coming to the threshold at the beginning of the year it opened with two invites to business-related events. The combination of coincidental events mentioned in the last paragraph – both into business related contexts.

It could be coincidental – no point trying to force something together (oh dangerous, almost a second half of life response there!!); it could be full-on God… or as I have found sometimes is the case could be God is moving something around and as that happens all kinds of doors rattle but the door that eventually opens was not one of the ones that was rattling at the beginning. (Or just another example of bumbling along, walking blind?)

In one situation I had a wonderful response that, there probably are theological differences between us but they would like to push ahead. I prefer where there are theological differences as it helps show where I am right, they are wrong and how I can correct them (see I told you I am still going to achieve stardom in this first half of life). Actually, if you keep reading you will realise that last sentence is a joke, so please don’t quote me!

Difference is important. I am certainly not correct on all my perspectives, and certainly cannot be correct at all points as it is pretty self-evident that my life is all too often sub-NT. There is a core to unity – the glory of God covering the earth as the waters cover the seas. That seems to be enough for us to push forward together. But having said even that can show where we differ. How we define glory, what we expect pre-parousia etc., can show up so many differences.

We really need difference to show us we are not right. A few days ago I reflected on ‘are you for us or for our enemies?’. If that was the wrong question and it relates to us and our ‘enemies’, I don’t think God is going to answer us when we ask ‘are you for me, the one correct at every point, or are you for those Calvinists?’ (not to offend, and always a little humour, but as I have found it very hard to spell that word for decades I thought it might be appropriate to enter the word here, to indicate I am now able to spell the word). Wrong question. Well who is more right? Wrong question.

Will I be able to correct those I don’t agree with? Wrong question. Will I be provoked and want to respond when I sit with people who have convictions that are alien to mine? Sure, cos of your immaturity, but wrong question. Will I have to learn a little genuine humility on such a journey? You might just if you learn how to listen and respect others who are probably further on than you are.

OK I think I get it. But surely by 2035 I will be so far ahead that I will then be the reference point for one and all. Silence. Now I am just wondering if the silence indicates I am at last getting the right question lined up. I wonder…

Demotatorship

A new word for me this week… meaning ‘democratic dictatorship’. It came into my inbox this morning inside Jeff Fountain’s latest weekly word. A MUST READ word as it hits head on something we are all having to grapple with:

http://weeklyword.eu/en/viktor-the-champion/

His letter is focused on a response to Viktor Orban of Hungary, but is applicable much wider. Later today I have a Skype to a country where the president has just publicly in a huge Christian gathering acknowledged Jesus is his Saviour and that the nation belongs to God. Something rejoiced over in many different Christian periodicals. And which of us have not been praying for the transformation of nations?

Relevant in country after country. Here in Spain VOX espousing family values, anti-abortion are pulling the traditional Christian card, and I am sure are pulling in votes from evangelicals and Catholics alike… yet just again this week the main leader was on a national TV channel putting out statistics, images and videos that have been proven to be wrong, but used to create animosity toward immigrants. (And do I hear the cry ‘Christian value?’)

What an era we have entered into. Presidents and leaders who will defend ‘Christian’ values, profess faith… yet produce material that stirs up hate not love for the neighbour. Answers to prayer? Or huge deception?

And probably a sign of where we have come to. Democracy, I have suggested many times, is in serious trouble. In the West we have a shell left to us currently – the democratic process, which is the context in which democracy is supposed to operate, but when huge levels of finance, vested interest groups and the like have a much larger say in what takes place than the ballot box we no longer have democracy. When money perverts what is true so that we no longer know the reality of what we are voting for, we have lost democracy. When politicians themselves create a ‘them / us’ and magnify it so that it becomes a ‘look after ourselves / they are enemies to be resisted’ a very perverted form of society can only develop.

Maybe on the issue of abortion we might feel it is such a huge issue that we have to vote for the party touting that ticket… but please do not defend the party, and also find a way of grappling with the huge complexities that lie behind the abortion statistics (which have often been at the lowest when, for example in the USA, a president who is not waving the ‘anti-abortion’ ticket has been in power… legislation not being the simplistic answer that we think).

There is no such thing as a ‘Christian party’ nor a ‘Christian nation’ and to reduce ‘Christian values’ as they are being currently reduced is to remove any real significance to the word ‘Christian’. Politics is messy. Any partnerships we end up in will result in our feet being dirty. Seemingly that was not a problem for Jesus, though it caused Peter to have a crisis of faith.

I am not looking for the ‘Christian’ ticket, the Christian profession of faith at the highest level. I am looking for dirty footed believers who occasionally have crises of faith, but walk again on a redemptive path at personal cost for the sake of the marginalised. (Is there another path we can walk?)

We are in danger of substituting a nationalised-introverted self-protectionised culture for the Jesus of Israel who died to Jewishness and to maleness.

Maybe he is too challenging for us. It will be a sad day if that proves to be the case. We have prayed, people have gathered in stadiums the world over for a new day to come. I just hope we do not eclipse the sun that is rising, and as we walk in darkness proclaim how much light has come. A light to the nations, not those who bring darkness while proclaiming light. If we continue to cover over the lies that are being spoken, we will soon have to come to terms with what we cover that should have been uncovered will cover us… That covering will become what we proclaim. Then democracy will not simply be under immense strain, but the Christian faith will again be co-opted as the voice of oppression.

Transformation?

Way back in the day, when I was not so grown up (!!) I loved to talk of transformation, of city-shifting (not easy to say, and did on more than one occasion got it wrong… though we do need to see a whole lot of that sifted and shifted!) influences. A straight line from strategic prayer that would change the effects of history and open up a new spirituality where the church would prosper was my focus. As the years go on beliefs are refined, honed, and even sometimes abandoned. In my case a core continues unabated… Jesus poured out his Spirit redemptively on a growing number of followers, not simply so as those followers could grow in numbers, and certainly not so as they might have a ticket to somewhere else, but so that they might take responsibility for the world around them. So that that world might change.

I have been away for the past week engaging with two interesting scenarios. Both in the South West of England. Both with a focus on entrepreneurship so that there can be a societal, an environmental change. The first, based in a city and focused on that region looking to re-open what had been abandoned, looking to spark leading-edge technology. The other coincidentally meeting in that area of the UK but with a strong emphasis that all of us, that is us communicating animals, carry the image of God, and that we are to be changed in order to bring about change. I resonated very strongly, with no emphasis on the financial outcome being the bottom line, but health and well-being being the gauge of progress.

Two environments, both looking for transformation.

I am deeply grateful for the strategic (and sometimes in my case I am sure un-strategic prayer) that has gone on. I consider that it has opened up so much space during these past decades. It has also contributed to some of the crises, for the Western house that has been built, at least in part, on sand was never going to be fit for purpose.

My vote is for those who are engaged beyond the congregation, those who take the call to business, health care, the arts etc., seriously. There is space now. Space that is visible, sometimes space in the midst of the mess for engagement.

I am aware that every scenario is different. We might not always see those situations correctly. Some we might be over-optimistic about, others where we have despaired might be the very ones where there is hope.

Over the past 5 years we have taken responsibility to pray for the political scene in Spain. We are not those who believe that change takes place through legislation, through influence from the top down (a christendom value). Yet we are looking for that political realm to come into health, to create a shape where there can be true prosperity. A kind of ‘we hold a shape’ so that there can be a ‘healthy political shape’ so that people can prosper, with great grace for the marginalised being expressed. An unhealthy political shape then is an offence and we take it as a personal insult.

2019… they shall not pass!

There are times we are caught out, not seeing what is coming and as a result we end up playing catch up. However, in 2019 it seemed that we were so ahead of what was coming. We saw the patterns of history and understood the geographical ground where that was expressed, were able to go there and be ever so strategic (!) with our timings, actions, prayers and declarations. Then… what a set of blows came our way as one aspect after another went against us. History just seemed intent on repeating itself with intent. We saw the number of fascists in parliament go from 0 to 24 to 52 in the course of 7 months. We saw divisions appear and hostility against one another be vehemently expressed by those who should have known better. I could go on… To be honest it proved pretty tough and insulting. Seemed almost personal when the ultra-right proclaimed ‘we have passed’ when entering the parliament. I still ask – could we have done more.

2020… a level see-saw?

It has been a battle to see something healthier come through. Just as the year turned a promising coalition, the first in 80 years, where a level of maturity has been shown., has been voted in. It made it in by 2 votes – had one person gone the other way (and there was huge pressure on those sitting in the middle) we would have been headed to yet another election, and with the growth of the ultra-right this would not have been something we would have been optimistic about. In the government, one of the ministers is a card carrying communist! Neither Gayle nor I are of that persuasion (as if!!), but given the history of Spain what a sign. (Ultra-right and ultra-left carry the same spirit – people are subject to a centralised and depersonalised power, a true principality or god.)

I am not suggesting that where I started – the business realm, nor where I am now focused – the political realm – is where it is at. I simply find it interesting that there are evidences of a level playing field appearing. Not everything is reversed, indeed one could suggest the political scene, for example, in Spain is worse than ever. Perhaps. Or perhaps game on. I consider it is the most dangerous yet with the most potential in the past 80+ years.

Let’s look for the gaps, the places where we can squeeze in, or make space through some spiritual elbow work for others to enter that space. I am convinced we are not going to see things just shut down, keeping the space open though will require our engagement.

Time – no time

Been a while since I blogged, just been too focused and busy on other things, though I do have a Romans 13 thought, in the light of ‘of course Boris [replace with ‘whoever’] is appointed by God, the Bible says so, so no disorderly conduct here then by you’.

But Time… the magazine. N.T. Wright has an article in there from Dec. 16th. The opening paragraph and opening sentence of paragraph 2 reads:

One of the central stories of the Bible, many people believe, is that there is a heaven and an earth and that human souls have been exiled from heaven and are serving out time here on earth until they can return. Indeed, for most modern Christians, the idea of “going to heaven when you die” is not simply one belief among others, but the one that seems to give a point to it all.

But the people who believed in that kind of “heaven” when the New Testament was written were not the early Christians.

The link is here:
https://time.com/5743505/new-testament-heaven/

Alignments for the future

Some while back we had a confirming word sent us while we were focusing on the removal of Franco’s body from the valley of the fallen. It was during the time when the process seemed stuck. We had begun to home in on the release of three groups of people: the students (youth), the women and the pensioners as key in that process and the wider picture of Spain. After a number of weeks without knowing about our focus Michael Schiffman called us to say we needed to release 3 distinct groups of people and the shift on Franco would come.

Today Greta Thunberg will arrive in Spain and will be present at the climate crisis change conference in Madrid over the coming days. She is a sign in these times. A young woman. And with her are rising an army of youth. It is their future that they are calling for. Recently while presenting a small paper on politics and theology I touched on the ‘touchstone’ issue for many Christians, the issue of abortion, which for sure is a major issue, yet I suggested there is a spectrum that it sits on which has to include that of creation care (also war, nationalism and immigration are on the same spectrum). Both the issue of abortion and climate care are to do with the future and how we relate to those not yet born and those who are yet to live – true life being defined as becoming those who contribute to others, that being the real test of how much glory is present.

Columbus Square

Some years back we made a small visit to Columbus Square where the adventurer(*) is honoured and it has become one of the centres for nationalism (Spain Day), the military and power displays. Since our little venture into that square we have noted some wonderful shifts in the response to such celebrations of power. And just after that time this wonderful focused statue of the woman has been there. And in this photo with the juxtaposition of the woman and the Spanish flag surely speaks loudly! Love for nation and nationalism are not one and the same. It is the same as equating evangelism with seeing people as objects to be evangelised… no good news there!!

The woman, the feminine. There is a future that is held at this time in the hands and hearts of women. In the same way as there were good men at the time of Jesus, so there are ‘bad’ women today, who use power and ungodly position for their own ends. Yet Jesus died as a man – he nailed where the central corruption of humanity lay. So I suggest there is a new centring in of hope to be found in and among women in this time.

In Spain since 2003 there are over 1000 women who have been killed in domestic violence situations. Many more physically and emotionally beaten. Yes there is a violence that at times has gone the other way, but this is not a level field.

In parliament yesterday

Pensioners. Some who have made their contribution, have lived through trauma to help give a future (and some of course who have not been contributors over their years). Care for the elderly. Honour those who have walked before, otherwise there is little genuine hope for a better tomorrow. Many pensioners are going to find a new lease of life. Their time is not over, even if the money (in Spain) set aside for them has been raided by previous governments. (Not a surprise when so much financial basis is founded on debt, the way to ‘create’ wealth!)

Yesterday in parliament – yes still no government here, and a total police barricade so we were not able to get to the building yesterday – Agustin Zamarron (70+ and still seeking to serve as an MP) with great dignity spoke of the responsibility to Spain and the deep embarrassment he felt that to date there has been no success in forming a government.

An army that is different. That has a different spirit. I am looking at this when I think of the 2010 -2020 dream and the final level playing field. I am not a student, nor a woman nor a pensioner… but I am and need to be involved. There is though a centre, and maybe it is just Spain but there is something congregating around youth, women and pensioners.

Madrid, with the work of the last mayoress, despite reversals being activated by the new administration has seen pollution drop by 20%, the most of any major world city. The climate conference is here, and the TV news spoke of this conference and ‘the planet is looking for her salvation’. That is a quote from someone I read… where then are the daughters and sons of God? And maybe we also have to ask who then are the daughters and sons of God? The opening day one of the biggest Spanish polluters of the environment were on the front page of most of the main papers. Money can buy publicity, as always. It buys elections. Power wins. Or it has, but here comes 2020. A level playing field. Could love find a way?

Before 2020, comes tomorrow (literally). The streets will speak once again in Spain, so we need to be there as wisdom cries out in the public square. Walking boots on and with many thousands others we will walk.


*I very generously described Columbus as an adventurer. Read the stories as he left in the service of God and Spanish crown, accompanied by a priest who preached in Spanish, giving all an opportunity to respond to the message of salvation (I know some preaching is hard to understand but this takes the cake!), then those who did not respond were ‘legitimately’ killed or enslaved. I called him an adventurer, and I do that not to excuse him, but to allow the challenge to be ours of clearing up the mess, for those who have conviction that something is wrong surely must be those who seek to shift the effects of what has gone before.

Not many smart

Gayle and I are in London for a couple of days, hosted by Adrian & Pauline Hawkes. They, their colleagues and friends are great to hang out with. Always challenging, inspiring and refreshing. I am not quite as young as I was, and they are not quite as young as I am, but when they talk about what they are going to give themselves to for the next 30 years it does kind of encourage one not to complain but to make a half-decent attempt at aligning with God’s direction.

Very graciously Adrian asked me if I would seek to address the subject of ‘theology and politics’. Graciously as I know almost nothing about politics, and on theology rumour has it the proverbial significantly sight-challenged bus driver was very confident of driving the double-decker through my various arguments without hitting anything in the process. As I explained last night my politics were shaped when I saw, in the 1960’s, a prime minister of the UK from Yorkshire smoking a pipe. I thought somehow that looked cool, so basically that party had my vote from then on. There are, dare I suggest it, deeper approaches to political issues, hence the graciousness of Adrian.

I will post here over the next few days the gist of what I shared. A perspective, a biased one, but nevertheless a perspective.

Of course a certain amount of what I adhere to is shaped by our social and geographic context, and springs from a clear sense some 5 years ago this month that the Lord was asking us to ‘take responsibility for the politics of Spain’. So often (did I hear ‘always’?) we do not understand what it means when the Lord speaks, as our great resource of knowledge does seem to get in the way, and we certainly do not know the journey that will entail. Five years later we are still pretty clueless and certainly do not believe we are qualified.

Crazy – not qualified, and as immigrants not even able to vote in the national elections. Just hope there is something in Scripture about not many smart people being called.

If I point to our geographic context there are some BIG negatives and a few positives in terms of what we see. Maybe the negatives are not so negative, maybe there are more positives than seem to be visible… and maybe the negatives are even BIGG… No don’t go there. My point is that it so difficult to assess. And sometimes there is little point in seeking to assess. If ever we gain a victory it is always time to push again, and if there is a real ‘failure’ time to push again. I like that as for someone fairly simple to condense things down to a simple activity is very helpful. And hopefully that is our approach.

My final disclaimers are that in what I will post I will use the term ‘church’ for shorthand for those who self-consciously follow Jesus – by using the term I am not limiting it to any specific expression nor am I denying it to other sets of relationships.

In approaching theology we can quickly make one aspect the whole and when we (as I will) suggest that the call of the church is sharply focused on shaping politics it can be easy to ignore other aspects of the call of the church. However, I make no apology in focusing on the issue of church, theology and politics as, for too long, the church has either:

  • been silent on major political issues, or
  • or complicit with the powers, or
  • only interested in a narrow set of issues.

The church has also often chosen to support the party that has a proposed bias toward ‘family values’, or is pro-life, turning a blind eye to any criticism that could be brought against that party. No political party can be baptised as ‘Christian’, nor can we remain uncritical of those who exercise authority. The critique of power is essential to the Gospel and with the demise of Christendom (the supposed domain over which Christ reigns) we have a fresh opportunity to find new ways of engagement.

OK enough for now.

But finally… We do not have a vote in Spain. Elections took place on Sunday, and a dear friend sent us a note saying ‘you have voted’. I thought surely he understands that we do not have a vote. In various text exchanges he repeated this the following day. So eventually I wrote back with

we do have a biased vote in the court of heaven but not a biased vote on paper in the land.

Then he clarified – he did not vote based on his choice, but knowing we could not vote he put the cross where we would have put it. We voted!

Any silver lining?

Four elections in four years… Spain, but typical of so many places where there is political turmoil or lock up. A coalition did not come together as a result of the elections in April, and given the results this time round a coalition will be even more challenging. The big news is the phenomenal growth of the extreme right. In 8 months a growth from 0 to 24 and now to 52 seats. Around 7% of the new parliament will be from that party – the largest percentage from that wing in any European country… and from 0% a few months ago. Absolutely gutting… as it has taken place on our watch.

We physically went to the geographical setting in Madrid months ago where there would be a threat of entrance. We declared ‘no pasarán’ (they will not pass), and some of the first words proclaimed by the far right in parliament in April were ‘we have passed’. We, this past week, went to a street, prayed and went round the whole block scattering salt on the road. The evening of the election, and we did not know this would happen, the very corner where we began the prayer was where the extreme right met to celebrate. Hard not to see it as personal!! And struggling with the results and our focused activity and prayers. Where did we miss it?

Our perspective is that coalition was not possible last time round because the financial institutions, the day after the April election, declared that there was one coalition that would be acceptable. The very coalition that the supporters of PSOE (the party who won in April but without an overall majority) shouted on the street was not acceptable to them. They shouted that specifically the night before the institutions declared what was acceptable.

Money, so controls. (Why was it again that Jesus appointed a thief? Why are so many of the OT laws about economics? Who is that says you will not buy and sell? Note to self – must go and read that book that seems intent on giving us answers to those kind of questions.)

Meanwhile there never was a desire for a coalition. The intent was always to go for a re-run of the election. This has backfired on the acting president (PSOE). It has not strengthened his hand but weakened it.

In the campaign a strong anti-Catalan independence was used by all the main parties (except one) as that gets a vote. Now any coalition will only be possible with some measure of support from the pro-independence parties from Cataluña.

Are there any silver linings? Of course there is always the possibility of positive spins. What was there is revealed – yes for sure. BUT, BUT when results come through as we have seen what was already there is strengthened, permissioned and multiplied. Our responsibility is to see that does not happen, and here we are!

Maybe the most positive is that for any move forward it will mean some humility, embracing of others (Cataluña for example, where dialogue is so needed).

Silver linings… Always but the clouds were dark.

Here though are a few great aspects in the latter stage of the campaign (with a biased viewpoint, but maybe one with some accuracy?).

The mayoress of Barcelona, Ada Colau, came to Madrid, on the final evening of the campaign. She addressed the crowd in Catalan, saying the place where she wanted to be was Madrid, there being no better place to be, as an act, of reconciliation at this critical time. She came bringing a hug from Cataluña.

Between the two elections there was a significant split in the Podemos party with a new party being formed. This, of course, split their vote and if the voting numbers were added together (of Podemos and Mas Pais) they would have been the third voted for party by percentage of votes, not the extreme far right party as ensued. Sure it was damaging. Mas Pais did not do well. Pablo Iglesias, leader of Podemos, sent a note to the leader of the party that split away, saying – I know this will have been a tough day for you with the disappointing results so I send you a big hug.

There is a politics at grass roots, a politics that might not be to everyone’s liking, but one that shouts that ‘love’ is the only way forward. I don’t know if that is a silver lining or not. Maybe… but even if there is no silver lining, when there are people (and ones who don’t profess a faith in Jesus) talking ‘love’ and willing to reach out hands across divides, there remains hope in a divided land.

PS… As I write some breaking news with a change of tone from Pedro Sanchez. First step… maybe silver linings!

A little humility?

Most of us will have read about the sentencing of the Catalan leaders, and quite a few will have also seen the manifestations and stand-offs between demonstrators and police with a focus at Barcelona airport. I have my not-adequately-informed perspectives, and being neither Catalan nor Spanish am limited as to what I can really say.

Maybe though a few personal perspectives. I have always been right in all my opinions. I am convinced of that because I see what I see, and my sight… Oh no! All that just came out before I could press the delete button. How often we would love to find the delete button before our own inadequacies, weaknesses and arrogance are revealed. Yet not possible.

Things happen and then we are right there in the situation with our history and weaknesses delightfully manifesting. I had a situation this week. Here we are with two guests and it comes to paying the bill at the cafe. The bill comes, clearly totalling up what we have had and I pay exactly what was on the bill. Two minutes later as we stand up to leave, across comes the waiter with the manageress. ‘You owe us another 6.00€. You had two more drinks, and they were 3.00€ each.’ I look at the bill in her hand – 21.00€ and a list of exactly what we have just had, and there she is standing with 21.00€ in her hand that I have just given her! We also know exactly what we have had… A water-tight case and I will need no defence lawyer in this situation. Gayle is beginning to open a sensible dialogue and everything will be within seconds clear. However, there is a better way of doing this. In fact there is a right way of doing this, which has nothing to do with the money of who owes who what, it is about everyone being clear that I am right. So I quickly take over, and absolutely make sure that that my perspective becomes the only one. Stuff the money, I now have a platform for all my gifts. A God-opportunity handed to me on a plate. What God has opened no-one can shut.

On this rare occasion my perspective was the right one (nice for once), but now with reflection, why did I have to do it that way? The manageress did not have a leg to stand on. The best part of the experience was going back a little later to find the manageress to apologise to her for being too aggressive. I have no idea if she needed an apology or not, she graciously insisted she did not, but I needed to do that.

I am convinced change is easy. A little humility goes a long way. If I took time to reflect I would quickly understand the blockage to my six decades of slowness to change. A little bit of humility goes a long way, so I guess my lack of change and my wonderful double portion gift of revealing my immaturities just might be connected to a lack of humility. However, surely not, so I will move on very quickly.

A personal perspective because when it comes to something that really matters how difficult change becomes. Prison sentences, separated from families, histories being recounted that go back generations… it is hardly surprising that there are stand-offs. After all I can have a stand-off about 6.00€.

Dialogue and de-escalating potential conflict is not easy, and in Spain right now it will not be easy. Maybe though I will have a few opportunities to add just a little bit of humility to my prayers for the land. I don’t have to know too much about the rights and wrongs of the current situation; I probably won’t have an opportunity to have any level of influence at a visible level, but there will always be something I can do.

We certainly cannot stop what is beneath the surface manifesting. That is clearly a good perspective to hold. But by the grace of God there are aspects beneath the surface that can be so dealt with that they do not manifest, as the soil of history is cleansed.

These next 26 days in Spain running up to yet another election will be so key. We certainly cannot sit back and tick off what manifests. There are events that will take place that turn the outcome, but the nature of those events will be key. Who wins the election is not at all important; the outcome is what is important. A greater level of listening, co-operating, laying down personal agendas – the outcome is what is important.

These are huge days for Spain. There was a ‘transition’ over the years 1975-78 in the move from dictatorship to democracy. In a few days time there will be an event that has been described (and I believe prophetically described) as closing the loop of the Transition. A major door in and through the Transition of 75-78 was a tragic political shooting, right in the area where we live – that being one of the main reasons why we wanted to live here. As the loop closes there will be events. If we can shift something the events can take place in the heavenlies. That would be great. We do not need yet more manifestations of what is there. Enough is visible.

Perspectives