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Chamber and committees

Meeting date: Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Meeting of the Parliament (Hybrid) 22 June 2021

Agenda: Time for Reflection, Coronavirus (Extension and Expiry) (Scotland) Bill, Business Motion, Presiding Officer’s Statement, Topical Question Time, Covid-19, Curriculum for Excellence, Coronavirus (Extension and Expiry) (Scotland) Bill: Stage 1, Coronavirus (Extension and Expiry) (Scotland) Bill: Financial Resolution, Business Motion, Decision Time, MND Scotland (40th Anniversary)


Contents


Time for Reflection

Good afternoon. I remind members that social distancing measures are in place in the chamber and across the Holyrood campus. I ask members to take care to observe those measures, including when entering and exiting the chamber. Please use only the aisles and walkways to access your seats and when moving around the chamber.

The first item of business is time for reflection. Our time for reflection leader today is the Rev Dr Jenny Wright, who is the convener of the church in society committee of the Scottish Episcopal Church, and associate priest of Christ Church in Morningside.

The Rev Dr Jenny Wright (Convener, Church in Society Committee, Scottish Episcopal Church and Associate Priest, Christ Church, Morningside)

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

There is a lot about life at the moment that is wearying. Living with uncertainty is exhausting, and we have had almost 18 months of great uncertainty, coupled with great loss and much grief. There have been ups and downs on the journey, most of them unforeseen.

As we turn from the G7 meeting to the 26th United Nations climate change conference of the parties—COP26—we are confronted with headlines that speak of the doom of our planet. Being faced with the destruction of natural resources, flooding, famine and drought in the middle of a pandemic can make even the strongest among us falter.

The human instinct for survival remains, yet life surely is about not only surviving but flourishing. The Hebrew word for peace is “shalom”. It is used throughout the Old Testament for God’s goodness, and is often spoken about in Christian circles as the ideal of what we long for and hope for. However, its translation as “peace” is somewhat of a misnomer, for shalom is not merely the absence of violence; it is the flourishing of all humanity, indeed of all creation. It is a time of rest—a sabbath of joy and wellbeing.

Perhaps we as individuals, as communities and as nations long for that. In the middle of the chaos and uncertainty that is life, we surely all desire the security of a sabbath of joy and wellbeing. However, that is not something that we expect to receive, handed to us on a silver platter; it is something that every person is called to participate in. It is a state of being, whereby we recognise our mutual reliance on one another and the realisation that our joy can never be complete while others suffer.

Shalom is a characterisation of community and a rule of life that helps us to live well together. It is a recognition that no one is safe until we are all safe, that there is no planet B and that we are all suffering, grieving, anxious and exhausted. We are invited to find, amid all that, a place where our longing for joy and wellbeing can become a reality. Shalom is the space where we match up our needs and our hopes, our fears and our visions in order to, ultimately, find rest along the way.