Skip to main content

Language: English / Gàidhlig

Chamber and committees

Meeting of the Parliament (Hybrid)

Meeting date: Tuesday, March 15, 2022


Time for Reflection

The Presiding Officer (Alison Johnstone)

Good afternoon. I remind members of the Covid-related measures that are in place, and that face coverings should be worn when moving around the chamber and across the Holyrood campus.

The first item of business this afternoon is time for reflection. Our time for reflection leader today is the Rev John Murdoch, who is minister at St John’s Kirk of Perth and St Leonard’s in the Fields, Perth.

The Rev John Murdoch (St John’s Kirk and St Leonard’s in the Fields, Perth)

Presiding Officer, members of the Scottish Parliament, a very good afternoon to you all. It is an honour to be with you. I bring from my congregations every good wish for what you do for our country.

We pray for peace. We live in very tense times—none more so than during the current abominable situation in Ukraine. Each day last week, St John’s, here in Perth, was open for public and private prayer for Ukraine. We remember, in our prayers, you and all who lead us at Holyrood and Westminster, together with Her Majesty the Queen, every Sunday.

At this time of international tension, the hearts and minds of many people incline to the wisdom of those who, in past days and in other scenarios, have spoken to the soul. I was in awe when I recently read the 272 words that were spoken by President Lincoln in his two-minute Gettysburg address on 19 November 1863. How much we need to hear him again. His address concluded with the words:

“Under God … government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth.”

Government exists to lead us in the best ways. When one of Lincoln’s successors, Franklin Roosevelt, talked of four essential freedoms, he could have been speaking to every man and woman in any century about our collective wish to live in those best ways, in a world of the peace and freedom that is the fruit of best leadership, and is the best fruit of leadership.

In a different context, the same idea was expressed by Pope Benedict during his 2010 visit to the UK. He asked trainee teachers in Twickenham what sort of world they wanted to live in and what sort of person they wished to be. Perhaps Benedict was echoing Roosevelt’s four freedoms: freedom of speech and expression; freedom for every person to worship God in his or her own way; freedom from want; and freedom from fear.

My prayer and hope is that, under God, we too can strive for those freedoms, continuing especially to look beyond our shores to the needs of those who are far less fortunate than we are, and that in our own country we will look to the solid ground of faith, hope and love.

May you who lead us be encouraged to keep on keeping on. I thank you, in this Olympic year, for taking forward the torch of leadership. First and foremost, let us continue to hold the Ukrainian people in our hearts.

Thank you for inviting me to be with you. May God bless you all.


Thank you, Rev Murdoch.