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Chamber and committees

Meeting date: Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Meeting of the Parliament 06 March 2018

Agenda: Time for Reflection, Business Motion, Atrial Fibrillation, Topical Question Time, Climate Change (Emissions Reduction), Higher Education (Widening Access), Local Government Finance (Scotland) Order 2018 [Draft], Land and Buildings Transaction Tax (Relief from Additional Amount) (Scotland) Bill: Stage 1, Land and Buildings Transaction Tax (Relief from Additional Amount) (Scotland) Bill: Financial Resolution, Business Motion, Parliamentary Bureau Motion, Decision Time, LEADER Programme


Time for Reflection

Good afternoon. Our first item of business is time for reflection. Our time for reflection leader is Commissioner Keith Banks of the Salvation Army, who is the chaplain at Glasgow airport.

Commissioner Keith Banks (Salvation Army Chaplain, Glasgow Airport)

I thank you for your welcome and the invitation to be here today, which I consider to be a great honour and privilege.

After nearly nine years in my role, one thing that I have discovered for sure is that I need to be human at all times: natural, unstuffy, approachable. I need to be not pious, pompous or holier than thou, but to know what is going on with Rangers and Celtic, and with Hibs and Hearts.

If it is true that the whole of human life is found in an airport—and it is—it follows that all human emotions are reflected there: human joys, sorrows, disappointments, anger and aspirations. Experience has shown me that training and academic attainments, though incredibly helpful, are not paramount. What matters most is that I am seen as a flesh-and-blood human being as much as is humanly possible.

People talk to me about all things human: the pain of grief following the loss of a loved one or a work colleague; an addiction that they are struggling with; concerns about the workplace, such as redundancy; fear for their mother’s health; anxiety about a child’s education; or a gender or orientation issue. People share their happiness, their jokes and their frustrations. They ask questions about God, about worrying things in the news, about the relevance of faith in the 21st century and about things that have been said in this chamber. There are always passengers who cannot understand why their plane has been delayed or why their luggage has gone missing, and there are those who cannot find the toilets. That is all very human.

When I escorted from a plane a grieving 85-year-old woman who had seen her husband pass away mid-flight, what really mattered was a caring human presence—a human ear and a human arm.

As a Christian minister, I do my best, as an ordinary human guy, to follow Christ. He was truly and properly divine, but he was truly and properly human, too. My task is to reflect the divine nature of his love and his humanity without discrimination, which, of course, was the way in which he did it.

I guess that that is how it should be for all of us who interact with people. Whether or not we are people of faith, we should never be so lost in the clouds that our feet lose contact with the floor, because that is where people are. People need chaplains—and politicians—to be real people themselves as much as is humanly possible. So may it be.