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Chamber and committees

Meeting date: Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Meeting of the Parliament 06 December 2016

Agenda: Time for Reflection, Topical Question Time, Education (Excellence and Equity), Renewables, Parliamentary Bureau Motions, Decision Time, Social Care Charging


Contents


Time for Reflection

Good afternoon. The first item of business this afternoon is time for reflection. Our time for reflection leader today is the Rev Nigel Anderson, who is the minister of the Livingston free church.

Presiding Officer and members of the Scottish Parliament, I thank you for the opportunity to address you this afternoon.

The name Reinhard Strecker might not be familiar to many today. Earlier this summer, I had the extraordinary privilege of meeting that man, who is now 86 years of age, in Berlin. I was having coffee with a friend outside the building where a service was about to take place to commemorate the 22 July 1944 assassination plot on Hitler. An elderly gentleman, Reinhard Strecker, came over to sit beside us and we were spellbound by his story for the next hour. He told of his liberation by a Scottish regiment in 1944 and spoke of his post-war work exposing by documentation the crimes of Nazi judges who still held judicial positions in West Germany. He was a man of immense courage who, in the face of much opposition from his own countrymen, sought the justice and truth that many wished to be suppressed.

To what extent was Strecker’s upbringing a factor in his courageous quest for justice? In an interview last year, he spoke of the influence of his Christian parents; his father was an anti-Hitler judge at a time when 90 per cent of the German judiciary were members of the Nazi party. In the interview, he said something quite telling:

“That had to do with the fact that for my parents, church and religion still meant something.”

Whether in Germany in the midst of totalitarian rule or in the freedom of 21st century Scotland, the church and religion still mean something. The German theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who was admired by Strecker, said this of the church:

“The Church is the Church only when it exists for others … not dominating, but helping and serving. It must tell men of every calling what it means to live for Christ, to exist for others.”

As a Christian, I rejoice in the influence of my own denomination, the Free Church of Scotland, in telling what it means to live for Christ and exist for others through the preaching of the gospel of Jesus that continues to transform lives, through involvement in such humanitarian work as drug and alcohol recovery programmes in Govan and through the work of supporting projects in rural Kenya for the improvement of educational facilities for the good of others and the glory of God.

The church and religion have much to offer in following the example of Jesus who came to serve in giving his life for others.