A Subversive Movement

The third volume is out in the series Explorations in Theology. A Subversive Movement tries (wish I could put ‘succesfully’ at that point of the sentence) to take the theme of Volume 2 – ekklesia, the Signficant Other to Jesus to carry on the mission of Jesus, now beyond the Jewish world to the transformation of the Imperial one-world government of Rome – and to apply it practically.

I push away from ‘Seven Mountains’ and from ‘Kings and Priests’, and any concept of a Christian nation… but want to see how we can be present within all aspects of society, but carrying a different Spirit, and also learn how to live with compromise.


A tale of remotes

I feel a story coming on…

Last summer when we travelled in the north of Spain we had enormous issues with the remote control to lock and unlock our van. The key worked in the door manually but only with great difficulty, twisting it this way and that. But we got there and back and were able to lock and unlock our personal transport when we needed to – even if it took a little longer than one would wish.

Not everything is a sign, but there are times when you have to slow down and ask. Our journey was preceded by hearing ‘You need to take the manual key with you’. I ignored that – no comments about my stupidity please!! So when the remote proved an issue we did slow down and sought to see if there was a significance in it all. The manual key was the one that we should have brought along, so the one you use in situ was going to be important.

It was of course in the season when we knew we had to be in Madrid. We had been turned down by the power of Mammon and then by the power of the legal system. I had had a (tentative) sense for some while that we would offer on 3 properties and would get the third. On our way back home we went to the centre of Madrid where there is a statue of Madrid’s symbol (a bear) and we took our key, placed it on the bear to declare we are coming. We understood the Lord was saying we could not simply lock and unlock from a distance and that now we needed to be in the city to do things on site.

Fast forward… We have TV in Oliva through a company called Orange. A large number of the buttons on the remote control for the TV stopped working. So I phoned them a few weeks back and they agreed to send a new one. A week or more went past. I phoned them again, and again, and a third time this Tuesday. Other than the annoyance of the waste of time I quite enjoy such calls, but the issue was ‘get it here quick cos we are going to Madrid and on to Malaga and won’t be back for 2 weeks’.

Eventually I tracked it down – they were trying to deliver it to Cadiz. We left there 5 years ago and never had Orange provide a service to us there in Cadiz. They had even been trying to call me on a cell phone we had in Cadiz (not an Orange phone), not on the cell phone that Orange gave us and have on their records as our phone number!! Go figure!

We will get it from Cadiz to you, they said. I said, well we won’t be here!

Next day we leave, off to Madrid. As we drive out of Oliva, I see a delivery van – I have no idea how many come in per day but there must be hundreds. ‘Gayle turn around and catch him, I am going to ask him if he has our package!.’ A three point turn later and no sight of him. A few streets later I see the delivery van. Pull over. ‘Tienes un paquete para Scott a la playa?’. What street…? Yes I do! So 10 minutes later we have the remote for our TV in Oliva as we continue to drive to Madrid.

The story continues… If you are lost remind yourself it is about remotes and the story has an ending and a purpose – at least in my little head!

We are renting an underground parking space in Madrid as there is now a red zone inside of which you cannot drive your car. When we were given the remote for the garage back in January he said – it does not always work, you might have to use it manually. That was certainly true – probably 90% of the time it would not work when we were here previously. This time we turn up, immediately it works, and has done every time since!

Remotes. Here we are in Madrid. We could no longer affect Madrid remotely and have to be on site. But we have remotes that work in Madrid now and remotes from elsewhere for other places. Sweet!!

Of course we have authority over all the works of the enemy, but that is not a universal truth in the sense of I pray today and all demons world wide are paralysed. It applies to our personal lives and what we have responsibility for. In taking responsibility we have to find the leverage points that means our authority is effective.

A tale of remotes!!! Change things from one place for others. So off now to the Supreme Court. Put the manual and personal presence key in as representing Jesus and maybe a few remotes will also be pressed for elsewhere.

Burgos and Ferrol

Gayle and I have just returned from a 2,700km (1,600 mile) drive and camp around northern Spain. Both a great break and also time to reflect on the wider land where we are located. This included sleeping in a car park to cliff headlands, a field and also a few random days in camp sites (it is helpful to have a shower – helps when co-habiting a small space!). In those days away we took in two larger cities – Burgos and Ferrol. So rather than expand on what deodorants we used to compensate for the (few) days without a shower I will focus on these two cities.

We always love to walk around a city, to observe, pray and speak to it – sometimes of course it will speak back, usually at night time. Burgos was our first stop so I will start there. A ‘proper’, well-behaved city, with everything in place. (Photo above title: Burgos cathedral.) A place that does not overtly resist what comes in new but will domesticate it before long. The city is calling for a person / persons / corporate body that will not be owned but come with a generous spirit speaking life to everything that is truly life-giving. So willing to relate to all expressions of the body of Christ but investing into both what is young (as in age of people) and fresh. Such a person has to be able to carry humour in the sense of not being focused on what they are building but on the life they are releasing. If this can rise there will be a time to make a key response when they are offered a place at the table of respectability, and at that time without disrespect to simply to continue to focus on the margins. The city is calling for it now!

Ferrol… we visited here primarily because this is the birth place of Franco (Photo: Franco’s birthplace – where we prayed), and we visited here on a Thursday. The next day the Spanish government passed the edict to exhume Franco’s body from the Valley of the Fallen. This is both historic in seeking to resolve some of the outstanding issues from the Civil War (1936-39) and the period of the dictatorship (1939-75) and for us in our journey into the history of Spain. (Co-incidentally Pablo Iglesias (1850-1925) the founder of the Spanish socialist party was also born in Ferrol.)

It is always challenging to see a city when coming with an agenda, but for us this place carried an affluence and a pride that was just beneath the surface. A place that has to discover the gift of mercy and align to where it is going rather than hold in to a history. To live here as a believer would certainly be a challenge. Think, pray and act long term. Invest in what is at hand, staying hidden, but waiting for the openings when there can be a shift for windows of opportunity will come in this city – it cannot put up defenses that are impregnable.

In praying at the house where Franco was born we simply knew we were there to cut off a root. we have experienced on a number of fronts that we have seen a significant proposed shift only for it not to take place so are also now focused on making sure we finish what we get involved in. Although the government has passed the vote, there could still be an appeal to the courts to reverse the decision to exhume the body. As mentioned in a recent post Valley of the Fallen is located alongside El Escorial – a place that very early on we realised was a power situation where dominating power was anchored, which has greatly affected the church in Spain. We have not yet made a specific visit to El Escorial but are pretty sure the day will come.

Burgos y FerrolGayle y yo acabamos de regresar de un viaje de 2.700 km por el norte de España. Un tiempo de descanso y para reflexionar sobre la tierra en la que nos encontramos. Esto incluyó dormir en: un parking publico, los promontorios de los acantilados, un campo y también algunos días aleatorios en los campings (es útil darse una ducha: ¡ayuda al cohabitar en un espacio pequeño!). Esos días fuimos a dos ciudades más grandes: Burgos y Ferrol. Sin embargo, en lugar de expandirnos sobre los desodorantes que usamos para compensar los (pocos) días sin una ducha, me centraré en estas dos ciudades.

Siempre nos gusta caminar por alguna ciudad, observar, orar y hablarle, a veces, por supuesto, nos responderá, por lo general de noche. Burgos fue nuestra primera parada, así que comenzaré por allí. Una ciudad “adecuada”, de buen comportamiento, con todo en su lugar. Un lugar que no se opone abiertamente a lo que viene nuevo, pero lo domesticará antes que después. La ciudad está pidiendo una persona / personas / cuerpo corporativo que no sea propiedad sino que venga con un espíritu generoso que hable vida a todo lo que es verdaderamente vivificante. Tan dispuestos a relacionarse con todas las expresiones del cuerpo de Cristo, pero invirtiendo en lo que es joven (como en la edad de las personas) y nuevo. Tal persona debe ser capaz de llevar el sentido del humor en el sentido de no centrarse en lo que están construyendo, sino en la vida que están liberando. Si esto pudiera aumentar, habrá un momento para hacer una respuesta clave cuando se les ofrezca un lugar en la mesa de respetabilidad, y en ese momento sin falta de respeto simplemente para continuar centrándose en los márgenes. ¡La ciudad lo está llamando ahora!

Ferrol … Lo visitamos principalmente porque este es el lugar de nacimiento de Franco, y visitamos aquí un jueves. Al día siguiente, el gobierno español aprobó el edicto para exhumar el cuerpo de Franco del Valle de los Caídos. Esto es histórico al tratar de resolver algunos de los temas pendientes de la Guerra Civil (1936-39) y el período de la dictadura (1939-75) y para nosotros en nuestro viaje por la historia de España. (Coincidentemente, también nació en Ferrol Pablo Iglesias (1850-1925), el fundador del partido socialista español).

Siempre es un reto ver una ciudad cuando se viene con una agenda, pero para nosotros este lugar tenía opulencia y orgullo justo debajo de la superficie. Un lugar que tiene que descubrir el don de la misericordia y alinearse a donde va en lugar de aferrarse a la historia. Vivir aquí como creyente sin duda sería un desafío. Piensa, ora y actúa a largo plazo. Invierte en lo que tienes a mano, manténte oculto, pero espera las aperturas cuando pueda haber un cambio de ventanas de oportunidad que llegará a esta ciudad: no se puede poner defensas que son inexpugnables.

Al orar en la casa donde nació Franco simplemente supimos que estábamos allí para cortar una raíz. hemos experimentado en varios frentes que hemos visto un cambio significativo propuesto solo para que no tenga lugar, por lo que ahora también estamos enfocados en asegurarnos en terminar en lo que nos involucramos. Aunque el gobierno ha aprobado la votación, todavía podría haber una apelación a los tribunales para revertir la decisión de exhumar el cuerpo. Como mencioné en un post reciente, el Valle de los Caídos está ubicado junto a El Escorial, un lugar que desde el principio nos dimos cuenta de que era una situación de poder donde el poder dominante estaba anclado, lo que ha afectado enormemente a la iglesia en España. Todavía no hemos hecho una visita específica a El Escorial, pero estamos bastante seguros de que llegará el día.


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Can we hold the space?

The European project that has been a gift to create peace among nations is under great threat. That project, with such Christian people as Robert Schuman (1886-1963) at the foundation, has been criticised as it developed into the EU. Certainly far from perfect, but if any demise will lead to a pulling back into self-protective borders, we might be regretting the jettisoning of the imperfect. I do not simply refer to the Brexit, but to the responses and tensions within the EU over how the humanitarian crisis is faced. And of course this is not just a European issue but one that is affecting the USA very acutely also.

I live as a privileged immigrant. We have food, we have legal, if not full status. Yet we have come not too different to many other immigrants who are arriving for external reasons. They are forced to come and many wish to make a contribution to the land. We are not here for external reasons, but by inner conviction and seek to make a contribution to the land. We pay our taxes here, and as a result pay significantly more than if we remained registered in the UK. Many come here as privileged immigrants, do not pay taxes and call themselves ex-pats. Those who act in that way are not under any great threat of expulsion from Spain or another similar country. They are, after all, only doing at a personal level what major institutions do at the global level. Finances and power give them the right to live / exploit where they want and when. We do not want that right, and many cast adrift on the Mediterranean of course do not come with finances or power… but if given the opportunity would make a home in the European lands and seek to make a contribution.

The EU is more likely to collapse as a result of the shutting up of borders to the outsider than it is simply post-Brexit. A number of years ago, long before the Brexit we were sent an open vision someone had while praying. She saw that a hand came and took the UK out of a European map. Then colour and light drained out of Europe. This was long before the Brexit and at a time when there was no-one predicting that the referendum would go the ‘leave’ route. We held it as the track record of the person is exceptionally high and noted that she said the Brexit referendum would be about the future of Europe. A number of us have travelled to the place where the colour and light disappeared in the hope that we could sow into the future. There was a second part of the vision also.

While in Prague we were told that most of the Eastern European countries are looking to tighten their borders. We were told this by believers who did not seem to see this as an issue. However, it is not just Eastern Europeans. There are very real issues that Italy and Greece face as most immigrants arrive in those lands and it is easy to criticise their actions of turning away mercy ships. If they turn away ships and other European nations turn away we have a problem.

We are grateful that Spain (Valencia) welcomed the Aquarius (and two other ships) with 600+ rescued from the Mediterranean. Grateful that into a port that brutally shipped Spanish born Muslims in the 1600s it now welcomed some 400 years later others in return. This we have prayed for, ending in Gibraltar last year, and curiously the ship arrived under a Gibraltar flag!

There are very real issues being faced in the so-called developed West over immigration. However, we have contributed to the problem over decades. The supply of arms to these nations where the conflicts exist have meant countless thousands have been made homeless and lives put at risk is down to us. The wealth we have accumulated at the Southern hemisphere’s expense has likewise driven people this way. (And when in Prague, an ex-communist city, it was easy to see that there is no difference between capitalism in its dominant neo-liberal expression or communism. Both are servants of the evil of bio-power. Human resources are their fodder.)

We are not politicians, and they certainly need prayer for wisdom as to how to move forward as so much is at stake. We are not politicians but the Gospel does not allow us to think of the message of Jesus as non-political. We, as the body of Christ, and therefore some individuals within that body will have to step up, have to somehow hold open the space for the future. And in holding the space begin to speak some content into that. God created through holding space (to counter the ‘without form’) and then filled that space (to counter the ‘and empty’). We likewise have to hold space and this is vital at a time when there is the desire to collapse borders. The shape of the EU is not the issue but living as family across Europe is. The Pauline Gospel seems to drive us that way. Living in the one-world government era his one passion was to get to the extent of the borders. The Jews in Exile had a great opportunity to live out life in the imperial world of Babylon – but they hankered for the land and created the synagogue!

Can we hold the space? The lands are changing, and need to change. We have utterly failed in our stewardship of the lands, failing to be a resource to the rest of the world. We can only anticipate that there will be wholesale shifts of population. Can we hold the space for the new? This is not a time to allow small borders to shape the future. And in holding it can we begin to prophesy what will fill that space?

I hope, as a Brit, that the Brexit did not sow something into Europe of closing borders that is now being replicated in other nations. Maybe the Brexit had little to do with political shape and more to do with how open we will be to the other. If so something must begin in the body of Christ as we are called to be the salt of the earth. We will have to step up to hold back the pollution that rises so easily.

We can do so little. Gayle and I can live here as immigrants, love the land, refuse to live with a border mentality. We can begin there in response, but we know that will not in itself be enough. There will be more we will have to do, but we must start with what is in our hands.


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Refugees welcomed

We have been travelling hence the silence on the blog. But changes are here! In Prague we were very focused on the shift of time, moving from the metronome which simply marks a rhythm, keeping everyone in line, to the clock, and not the mechanistic clock but the beat of the heart. We prayed for acceleration. Came home to Spain and in a few days the entrenched government was overturned, something that was certainly not predicted.

Then came the boat(s) into Valencia with over 600 refugees rescued from the Mediterranean. Spain a nation with a mercy, hospitality gift opening the doors and heart. A wonderful reversal too of history as through the port of Valencia many were brutally exiled in the Muslim expulsion (the focus of our prayers last year).

Now there is discussion concerning the removal of Franco’s body from the valley of the fallen, and o exhuming other bodies that were forcibly buried there in an act of conquest that proclaimed reconciliation (!!).

We might never know if any of the above was catalysed by the prayers of the team in Prague but there has certainly been an acceleration here. Our prayer is it will be a marker for Europe.


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Forty Years – personal and political

Always interesting how God does things, and I guess pretty individually tailored too. Certainly for Gayle and I our personal lives and circumstances have often mirrored what we have focused on. The last two days have been historic with the sitting PM being ousted through a no-confidence vote. The first time such a motion has been ‘successful’.

I have reflected before the occasion when a professional banker sitting at her desk told us in no uncertain terms that we should forget any dream of seeing levels of corruption change. ‘This is how it is in Spain, and this is how it will always be.’ Really? Forty years ago Spain put in place the constitution that stands to this day. It marked some amazing changes from the Civil War and its aftermath, and many in public office did exceptionally well, but the levels of corruption have remained. Increasingly political problems are transmuted into legal issues. The constitution does stipulate that any referendum (as per Catalonia) is illegal, but the response to the situation has been to strongly police the situation rather than handle it with political mercy and dialogue. So we have set ourselves to pray into the constitution, and have been focused on that for some 3 years, and this has led us to push into prayer for the judiciary.

Back to signs and personal circumstances. Our apartment also is, more or less, 40 years old. Forty years on and the sewage pipe could no longer function. Crap is a fact of life, getting it flushed out is our task. Our entry to Madrid is (apparently) up a sewer pipe and against the flow. And yesterday, maybe the first signs that the sewer pipe is beginning to function. This is not about raising one political party above another, but of noting the signs. And what a sign we witnessed in January 2015 in fulfilment to the vision of the square filled with 100,000 people, the empty platform one end with the people waiting for the ‘word of the Lord’. That word was ‘tick tock, tick tock, the clock is ticking in Spain…’ Just a few days ago we returned from Prague and the symbol of the metronome on the hill where we began each day, the metronome that simply marks a rhythm but does not indicate that time has moved on, was very strong. We prayed for the clock to move forward, for there to be acceleration across Europe. We have certainly seen that! Just after we returned Gayle said ‘Thursday, we have to watch for a clear sign’. She thought the sign would be in Prague (and maybe it has been) but Thursday was historic here in Spain, a clear sign.

Will we see corruption out of Spain? Probably not. But I think all we need is to make sure the sewage pipe is functioning.


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A shock to unlock the future

(Image sourced at: 20minutos.es.) When in Prague one of the things that struck us was the ‘sign’ of the metronome, a tool not to measure time but to repetitively maintain a rhythm, I suggested that truth (and that always has to mean ‘my understanding of truth’) can anchor is to the past. There is of course great value in that and the alternative of being blown by every wind that comes is far from a viable alternative. However, there has to come moments when the we move from simply being anchored to the past to embracing the future. This is done when the imagination kicks in , often in the context of a shock to the system.

Yesterday the Spanish parliament was in session all day debating a no-confidence motion against the president, following on from one one of the biggest cases that exposed huge financial irregularities and illegal payments in his (PP / conservative) party. Rajoy (current president) put up a strong fight in the morning, then was absent for the remainder of the day. After a few hours it was discovered that he was in a nearby restaurant, where he remained for some 7 hours! Headlines said ‘bunkered in’ which we found very interesting as these are the very words we have been using when praying with regard to getting the institutional injustices exposed.

A common word used throughout the day yesterday was ‘shock’. A shock to the system indicates the possible break of the institutional memory and default behaviour. We are on the verge of something new opening up, though at any time of change unless there is sufficient true vision to fill the vacuum there is only one possibility and that is a change of faces but no real change. This now is where we are at. The best part of yesterday was a measure of reconciliatory language toward the Basque and Catalan communities.

We are optimistic… and ever so watchful. A shock is where it begins. It can also sadly be where it ends.


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Home after 17 days!!

We arrived home late last night from Prague, having been away from our home for 17 days. Not our intention, but the sewage pipe in our block of apartments had broken (gladly now fixed), so we were without water, toilets, showers etc, so no real choice… off we went. I appreciate that in the heady days of the Latter Rain movement there was even some who suggested such issues as body odour would not exist, but we did not quite have the faith to buy into that level of over-realized eschatology, and I cannot find any writings that suggested faith to end all toilet needs… so left us no option but to leave for the past days. There is so much to say about these days, re Madrid and apartments, Prague and four ever so significant days there, and also some apologies for not replying to emails etc., while without normal computers, internet and the like.

I will now try and catch up these next few days, before we head off again for two weeks in Scotland (Orkney – first time there in 8 years, and just over 10 years since Gayle and I were engaged there) to partner with ORCAS – a group working together across Orkney, Caithness and Shetland. We will also be in the UK. But back to the sewage!!!

We were sent an impression / image from Adrian Lowe who has been a faithful friend over 12+ years that our entry to Madrid was up the inside of a sewer pipe. It bore witness with us, and all-but immediately the sewage pipe here evicted us from this home. When we (finally!!) obtain the apartment in Madrid, assuming we have the time and energy, we will seek to put down our journey to get in there (we have been aiming to get there since 2011, and intensely since 2015), but we have been so close on different occasions only to have what would seem to be a massive flushing of the toilets above us over our heads (do not imagine this!). Back to square one… but we also have seen the flushing out of issues that need to be exposed each time. We have seen some firsts, such as resignations of key people who formerly would have just ridden through the scandals. Currently there are 12 of 14 from the cabinet of a former government being indicted. And when the toilets flush in such a way there is a mess that lands on people. Rap singers put in prison (as well as political prisoners), another singer being arrested yesterday for his lyrics: the same lyrics in his songs for 40 years. Free speech is being clamped down on. But the sign is that there is a flushing out of corruption.

So home to catch up, to prepare, but to be glad that all we had was some inconvenience to our pattern of life, and that our personal experience was an image of our spiritual journey at this time. The inconvenience was nothing compared to those who have been uprooted permanently from their lands.


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Wednesday, May 23

A date in the calendar in Prague. The second ‘defenestration’ of Prague took place on this day (and date) 400 years ago. We were there today beneath the window where it took place on the same day and date, just separated by some 400 years. A small event when protestants took into their own hands dealing with ‘justice’ and throwing the three Catholic lords out of the window. Unbelievably all three survived, put down to the luck of falling on manure that broke the fall (the protestant version) or saved by the virgin Mary (Catholic version). This event is what sparked something much bigger, the outbreak of the devastating and continent-shaping thirty years war. This has been our focus for today.

A focus on the past is so important to deal with, and getting the focus ‘right’ between past and future is perhaps more important and also extremely challenging. In Prague there is a real sense that the city and nation should be setting the right time for Europe. We began today, and will on each successive morning, by meeting at the metronome on the hill overlooking the city. Marking a rhythm this large metronome replaced where the statue of Stalin was previously, and only placed there temporarily until they knew what to put there. If ever something spoke and cried out for something to fill it… and that is the issue, what will fill this space, where time is being marked?

That is the question for Europe. Leave it empty and there can only be a reversion to what has been before, so there is the necessity to call for the future reality to press in and fill the gap. This is a pressing issue for us in these days, as Prague is a clock for Europe, and it is some hours behind.

In Prague there is a gift / a pride / a knowing who they are of valuing truth. Both from a Christian point of view with the heritage of Jan Hus and others who held on to truth, and at a national level they too see themselves as founded on truth. But yesterday’s truth only gets us so far. Our last place to pray this morning was in a strategically placed jewellery shop whose owner is a believer. It was as we stood in the shop I saw that:

  • Truth can anchor us in to what we have inherited, but
  • only the imagination can open up the future.

Truth is important. It stimulates us but does not by itself lead to the future. It can anchor us but to move beyond, it is the imagination that has to be engaged. Truth says ‘do not let go of this’, but the imagination has to see a new community, a new way of living, a new value system. Once the fresh future is seen truth that we once held has to adapt, for we only ever see and believe in part. Fresh revelation is always waiting to break forth, and having held on to truth that both anchored us and got as far as we are now, we then find that that element of truth was (only) ‘truth as we understood it’. Fresh understanding has to update our truth. We can never update the Truth (a Person) but we can certainly update our understanding of truth.

Artists, the artistic community, the arts are vital for this to happen. They help the imagination grasp other possibilities, even other realities. If that can happen then not only what we once held on to so strongly gets adjusted, but there is the potential in the community to shift values that have been attached to things, to products and the like. There can be a revaluation. So a two-fold shout. Come on San Lorenzo! Come on you artists!


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Maybe we can do something

Had a cool dream:

So, I met some people who knew how to do stuff but didn’t know the way.
I said, ‘I know the way but I don’t know how to do stuff!’
They said,’That’s why we need you.’
I said, ‘That’s why I need you.’
So I found the way, the quickest way, to a door.
And we went through the door.
Immediately, I clapped twice and said, ‘I’m so excited. I’m so excited!’
The guy said, ‘You keep doing that!’
And I said, ‘I know. I can’t help it. It’s automatic…’ And,’Look over there! The lion is on that screen on the wall.’
There was a lion on a TV screen on the wall.
(This seemed also to be apart of this repetition: clap, clap, I’m so excited, I’m so excited and there’s a lion over there….)
Then I said, ‘Maybe we can so something here..?’ And I was aware that I’d also said this before but had changed the phrase from ‘Maybe I can do something here?/Maybe God can do something here?’ to this time saying ‘Maybe WE can do something here?’
So we started to carefully look at all the people in the room.
And at this point I realise that it looks a bit like the stock exchange….maybe.


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