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Language: English / Gàidhlig


Chamber and committees

Meeting date: Tuesday, November 2, 2021

Meeting of the Parliament (Hybrid) 02 November 2021 [Draft]

Agenda: Time for Reflection, Topical Question Time, Covid-19, Sustainable Procurement and Fair Work Practices, Point of Order, Business Motion, Decision Time, Menopause


Time for Reflection

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 David Coleman, who is eco-chaplain at Eco-Congregation Scotland.

We are ringing a lot of bells, this week. It is a traditional call to worship and a challenge for injustice and evil. Let us presume that I have your attention. What bells can we ring with words?

I am a Christian minister of good news. However, in Christian scriptures, good news frequently takes the form of warnings that we heed to our joy, or neglect at our peril. The urgent warnings of climate science are nothing if not God given. Today, I am attending the 26th United Nations climate change conference of the parties—COP26—in Glasgow.

In the Parliament, you can see on the walls of the chamber representations of the people of Scotland who have elected you and whom you serve. However, that is not the limit of your calling; there are all those who are without votes or the ability to vote—for example, children, people who are imprisoned by illness and those who despair that their vote has no contribution to make. They, too, are the common concern of every human being who claims to love their neighbour. They include refugees, who are and have been vital to shaping Scotland all the way back to St Mungo’s foundation of the city of Glasgow, where nations have come together so wonderfully and so imperfectly.

By excluding such guests—those incomers; those unenfranchised equals in God’s sight—we would be diminished and impoverished in every spiritual and other way. Whether they are fellow citizens or not, fellow humans command our respect and love.

In Parliament, you have attended to many issues of inclusion: for example, equality in the right to marry, defence of racial and gender identities, and more. I hope that, if the chamber were ever to be changed, that admirable wall with the figures would receive special attention to your evolving vision, so that, as you meet, you are confronted not just by an elephant in the room but by the thousands of endangered species and habitats, looking you in the eye.

In Christianity—and, I am delighted to affirm, far from uniquely or exclusively—love of God and love of neighbour are never in competition but are always mutually authenticating. Because of the lead that has been given globally by spiritual leaders such as Pope Francis and, just as importantly, by the 500-plus local grass-roots congregations of Eco-Congregation Scotland, which COP26 has brought unprecedentedly closer to other faith groups, there is a reclaiming of the permission to see the earth and all its creatures as neighbours and partners, the neglect of whose care and love objectively endangers the justice and wellbeing of all. [Applause.]