My cousin Graham was there. “What an afternoon,” he writes, “to go into Barcelona!”
By all accounts a place of absolute terror – which is, of course, what the terrorists wanted. And their target, just ordinary people enjoying themselves in the sunshine. I note that the byline for Facebook page for La Rambla De Mar, to which Graham checked in, is “Just for fun.”
We do not live in a neutral world. No, as is only too evident this morning, we live in a spiritual battlefield. It is C S Lewis who writes “There is no neutral ground in the universe. Every square inch, every split second is claimed by God, and counter claimed by Satan.”
As it happens I am writing this blog from Caen. The view facing me now, as I try to write this blog from our hotel, is a fairly typical suburban scene just out of town, close to the Peripherique.
It all looks very pleasant and well-ordered. I notice over to my left eight Tesla charging units for electric cars. Over to my right typical modern French white-plastered houses through the trees.
It is hard to imagine today but just four years before I was born, this was the site of a terrible battle as British and Canadian troops battled to wrest control of Caen from its German occupiers. Just over there, about two miles in front of me, is the airport at Carpiquet, a key location in a pivotal battle.
And over there, about three miles away is Cheux, where Ritchie Harrison, of Liverpool Road just opposite our church, is buried – in the St Manvieu War Cemetery.
I think I wrote this time last year of how the battle for Caen was crucial for the whole of the Western front. Rommel knew that Caen had to be held at all costs.
The planners for D Day aimed for Caen to be captured on day one, 6 June 1944. However, such was the determination of the German defenders that it took six weeks.
But then the road to Berlin was wide open. Victory was assured.
Just like Calvary.
“For this purpose the Son of God was revealed: to destroy the works of the devil,” writes the apostle John (1 John 3:8).
And the victory that Jesus achieved at the cross, by no means obvious at the time, has huge strategic implications for the whole of creation. This is very much the theme for the book of Revelation which concludes the Bible. It may not be obvious to us now but final victory for the Kingdom of God is assured. So live on the basis of this certainty.
Sassy we sing the Halleluiah chorus: “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Messiah, and he will reign for ever and ever.” (Revelation 11:15)
Meanwhile terrible things continue to happen. “The thief comes only to steal, kill and to destroy,” Jesus tells us.
On the other side of the Atlantic the people of Charlottesville are still recovering from the terrible events surrounding the white supremacist rally last week. There another car was driven, deliberately and at speed, into a group of counter-protestors.
As it happens I know the location. In fact, I have a photo of Jacqui drinking her decaf tea in an outdoor cafe just feet from where the car crossed Main Street.
Emancipation Park is just one hundred metres away. When we were there five years ago it was called Lee Park, dominated by this splendid statue of Robert E Lee, which I photographed from every angle.
I remember thinking at the time, “Why such a monument to a defeated General?” It seems it was erected in the 1920’s in a move to rewrite history.
But the fact remains that the Confederate armies lost the civil war and that slavery was abolished. Now it is a case of working out the full implications for this victory for the Unionists, to those who proclaimed loyalty to the US constitution.
The outcome is simple – you cannot now be a slave in the United States, whatever some people may wish. Victory has been won for those who would abolish this terrible institution, final and complete. So enjoy and celebrate your freedom, whoever you are and whatever others may say.
Similarly for us as we decide to live our lives on the basis of the cross of Jesus.
“No, in all these things,” rejoices the apostle Paul, “we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.” (Romans 8:37)
So whatever the Enemy may throw at us, “another day of victory!”