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Chamber and committees

Meeting date: Tuesday, December 8, 2020

Meeting of the Parliament 08 December 2020

Agenda: Time for Reflection, Topical Question Time, Business Motion, Covid-19, Brexit Readiness, Covid-19 (Education), Parliament’s Evolving Scrutiny Function, Presiding Officer’s Statement, Decision Time, Human Rights Day (70th Anniversary)


Time for Reflection

Good afternoon, colleagues. We begin this afternoon’s business with time for reflection. Our time for reflection leader today is the Rev Robert A Hamilton, who is the minister of the New Wellwynd parish church in Airdrie.

The Rev Robert A Hamilton (The New Wellwynd Parish Church, Airdrie)

Thank you, Presiding Officer. Good afternoon.

As Covid-19’s grip on the world was intensifying and more and more countries were going into lockdown, President Macron said that we would need to learn to reinvent ourselves, and we have had to do just that in so many different ways, to keep ourselves safe, to keep others safe and to learn to do a lot of what is familiar and part of our everyday routine in quite different ways.

As a minister, I have seen how that has brought out so much good in so many people who have looked out for one another, especially neighbours on their own with no one to turn to. I have also seen the challenge of it and the heartbreak that goes with it.

When my father-in-law died in May, what should have been a service in a packed church was held instead at the crematorium, with a handful of people present and his son unable to be there because of where he lives in Somerset. Yes, technology helped, as the service was streamed. Yes, knowing that people were watching from a distance and thinking and praying helped. In other instances, neighbours stood dressed in their finest funeral clothes to support a grieving family, and safely distanced villagers lined the streets as the cortège drove past.

Even with all of that, the grieving process has been stifled, because what helps is the gathering of family, friends and communities, not just joining together to celebrate someone’s life but joining together to lament and to weep with others who weep. When he was Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, Professor Jim Whyte preached at a national memorial service for the victims of the Lockerbie air disaster. What he said then resonates now:

“when we walk through the valley of the shadow, we are not helped by smooth words spoken from a safe distance, but by those who have known the darkness and are prepared to share it with us, and hold us till we see the light.”

“Brother, sister, let me serve you;
I will weep when you are weeping;
When you laugh I’ll laugh with you;
I will share your joys and sorrows
Till we’ve seen this journey through.”

What can we do as individuals and as a nation, not just sometime in the future but here and now, to serve our sisters and our brothers?

Thank you, and blessings.

Thank you very much indeed, Rev Hamilton.