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Chamber and committees

Meeting date: Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Meeting of the Parliament 09 January 2018

Agenda: Time for Reflection, Business Motion, Topical Question Time, National Health Service (Winter Pressures), Article 50 Withdrawal Process, Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body, Parliamentary Bureau Motions, Decision Time, Tenement Communal Property (Maintenance)


Time for Reflection

Good afternoon, and welcome back. Our first item of business this afternoon is time for reflection. Our time for reflection leader today is the Rev Dan Harper, minister of Bridge of Allan church.

Thank you, Presiding Officer and members of the Scottish Parliament. A happy new year to you all.

As we stand at the new beginning of a new year, it is easy to cast our minds back and think of all that has gone before us. It is natural to lament past challenges and celebrate old victories, and to find ourselves buoyed or sunk by the same but, as new beginnings arrive, we must intentionally look forward.

In the last couple of years, I have stood at a few new beginnings. The two that shine brightly are the new beginning of my ordination as parish minister of Bridge of Allan parish church, and the exciting and wonderfully engulfing new beginning of parenthood. Both of those significant life events have thrust me into worlds that I could never have imagined, even though I read, studied, asked questions and did everything I possibly could to find out what those new beginnings meant.

The feeling that surrounded me as I looked forward from the cusp of these two life-changing events was one of hope. Not a passive hope, but an active one for the future—a future working in the church in which I am in a position to encourage others to live out their faith in love and service; and a future in which my child will be able to grow, inquire and explore all that interests her, taking me along for the ride.

At this time of year, the church calendar is starting to move on from Christmas things. Whether it is the magi visiting the two-year-old Jesus at Epiphany, or the narratives concerning the adult life of Jesus, beginning with his baptism, our hearts and minds start to look forward. The baptism of Jesus changed the understanding of baptism from being simply about cleansing and purification to symbolising a new beginning: a fresh start at which we are filled with expectation of what might come rather than embarrassment and regret at what has been.

As we stand at the beginning of this new year, and the new parliamentary term, we should therefore take the opportunity of a fresh start and look forward with hope—hope that our past and future mistakes will not define us; that our own lives, and the lives of our loved ones, will be full of opportunities to grow, inquire and explore; and that we can work together for the benefit of all people, no matter what their life circumstances or religious or political beliefs.