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Language: English / Gàidhlig

Chamber and committees

Meeting of the Parliament (Hybrid)

Meeting date: Tuesday, June 14, 2022

Agenda: Time for Reflection, Business Motion, Topical Question Time, Benefits of Independence, Education Reform Update, Business Motion, Good Food Nation (Scotland) Bill: Stage 3, Decision Time, Great Bernera Community Land Buyout


Time for Reflection

Good afternoon. Our first item of business is time for reflection, and our time for reflection leader is Elaine Duncan, who is the chief executive of the Scottish Bible Society.

Elaine Duncan (Scottish Bible Society)

In a park in Kyiv, Scottish Bible Society staff were distributing humanitarian aid when a woman came and asked whether they had any Bibles. My colleague was surprised to find that a queue of people had formed to receive Bibles. One man stood with a loaf of bread in one hand and a Bible in the other and said, “I know which is most important.” It might be surprising to hear that, for some people, spiritual hunger can outweigh physical hunger during times of conflict and distress.

Maybe another story from Ukraine will help to put that in context. A few weeks ago, at the end of a service of holy communion for soldiers who were serving on one of the many front lines, Bibles were being distributed. A soldier came to my colleague, Anatoliy, and asked for a Bible. He said, “I have never been interested in God or religion. However, now I feel my conversation with God should begin.” That soldier was searching for something that would give him hope and a sense of purpose in the midst of conflict, fear, injustice and despair.

The sociologist Émile Durkheim stressed that values enable individuals to feel that they are part of something bigger than themselves. For that soldier, there were probably several layers of things that were bigger than himself, including his family, the army or a nation rallying against a foe—yet, he was looking for something more and had a sense that the Bible would help him to connect with God.

In the Bible Society, we find that that is a common experience around the world—and not just in times of conflict and difficulty. People want the Bible.

The values of wisdom, justice, compassion and integrity, which are engraved on the ceremonial mace of this Parliament, are all readily found in the Bible and relate in some way to the character of God himself. I believe that there is something timeless about those attributes.

The accepted values of any culture, community or individual can and do change from time to time. It could be said that the accepted values of our generation are individual achievement, personal happiness and materialism. Of course, we could debate the truth of that view, but I am relieved that they are not the values that are inscribed on the mace. If they were, we might find ourselves fulfilling Oscar Wilde’s quip that we know

“the price of everything and the value of nothing”.

My prayer for the members of this Parliament is that you will continue to act with wisdom, justice, compassion and integrity, and that God will help you as you lead this nation.