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Chamber and committees

Meeting date: Tuesday, December 21, 2021

Meeting of the Parliament (Hybrid) 21 December 2021

Agenda: Time for Reflection, Business Motion, Topical Question Time, Covid-19, Point of Order, Rented Housing Sector, Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill, Parliamentary Bureau Motions, Decision Time, Point of Order, Covid-19 Vaccines


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 around the Holyrood campus. The first item of business is time for reflection, and our leader today is the Rev David Burt, who is the minister of Old Gourock and Ashton church.

Good afternoon, Presiding Officer, and thank you so much for allowing me the privilege of sharing with you today.

Today is Tuesday 21 December. It is the day of the winter solstice. It is the shortest day of daylight that we have in the northern hemisphere, and for us, it is a symbol of the start of our journey out of winter. The darkness starts to gets shorter, and daylight gets longer. Also today, there are now only three more windows to be opened on Advent calendars; if you happen to have a chocolate one, there are only three more chocolates to go. The wait is nearly over, and Christmas is just around the corner.

For the church, the Advent journey began on Sunday 28 November, as we lit the first Advent candle. On Sunday, we completed that countdown as the fourth candle was lit. We save the last one, in the middle of the ring, for Christmas day. As each candle is lit during the Sundays of Advent, we get ready to receive the wonderful gift of the Messiah—the light of the world. Each candle has its own significance. The first one to be lit reminds us of hope of better things to come. The second candle is for peace in our lives and in the lives of everyone throughout the world. The third is for love, that we may learn to love one another and to love this wonderful world in which we live, and to know the love of God. The fourth candle is for joy—that sense of happiness and wellbeing, and the sense that all is well for us.

In these difficult Covid times, I believe that the Advent candles take on an extra resonance for us. We need to have that sense of hope for better days to come and hope that the darkness that Covid has brought upon us can be put to flight.

The uncertainty of these days has created worry and fear. The promise of peace in our lives, and in the lives of our communities the length and breadth of our nation, is important for us to hear.

Throughout these difficult days, we have also witnessed the power of love in action, as neighbours have rallied round each other and random acts of kindness have taken place and been shared. We have also seen the outpouring of wonder for the national health service and all the people who have been there for us in our time of need.

Also in these dark times—times of all this difficulty—we can still know the sense of joy that even one small candle lit in a dark room dispels the gloom.

In the gospel of John, chapter 1, verse 9, we read that

“The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world.”

For Christians, that light is Jesus Christ. That, for us, is the wonder of the Christmas message.

I pray that as you start the last few days of your work in Parliament this year, and as you contemplate what your Christmas experience will be with all those whom you will share your time with, that you may be blessed with the living light of Christ, and that for us all there may, indeed, be hope, peace, love and joy this Christmas and in the year to come.

Thank you for allowing me the privilege of sharing with you today. I wish you all a peaceful Christmas and a blessed new year.