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Chamber and committees

Meeting date: Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Meeting of the Parliament 25 September 2018

Agenda: Time for Reflection, Topical Question Time, Mental Health Strategy: 2018 Annual Report, UK Trade Arrangements: Scotland’s Role, Business Motion, Decision Time, Eye Health Week 2018


Time for Reflection

Good afternoon. The first item of business is time for reflection. Our time for reflection leader is the Rev David Coleman, who is the environmental chaplain for Eco-congregation Scotland in Edinburgh.

The Rev David Coleman (Environmental Chaplain, Eco-congregation Scotland)

Greetings. Since I was first invited to offer this reflection, I have moved from being a grass-roots pastor in Greenock to taking on the national scope of being environmental chaplain for Eco-congregation Scotland, which is a charity that is supported by very diverse churches and the Scottish Government. In one way, that is a change of direction, but in another it is an intensification of the same calling.

A Christian minister’s calling is never simply to speak what people want to hear—even when speaking to those who might think that they are paying the piper. The very diverse eco-congregation movement encourages people of faith—so far, they are Christians, although I look forward to working with Muslims and others—to enlist the treasures of their respective traditions in response to our shared global context of climate crisis.

This is my second Holyrood event in two weeks, as I was part of the mass climate lobby on 19 September. The Scottish churches parliamentary office will keep the conversation going.

The Parliament guidelines stipulate that speakers should avoid being political. That is easy. For at least 20 years, since our friends in Pacific islands churches began to realise that their homelands would not survive the rise in sea levels, the task that I have taken on is unambiguously spiritual, meaning that it touches on the deepest essence of who we are and our place in the created order. No party or faith group has a monopoly on the care of the planet.

Jesus encouraged his followers to read the “signs of the times” in the world around them. He pointed out that they were very well able to do that and act accordingly, if they so chose.

Today, in complementary prayer and action, we seek collaboration not competition, as we are overtaken by what we rather hoped was going to be the predicament of our grandchildren—I am not yet a grandfather. I wish that organised religion as a whole was already setting people such as the members of the Scottish Parliament a positive and convincing example. In the meantime, we look to you.

I am here not to compete but to convince, which includes convincing myself and the congregations and communities of Scotland to read those signs. In the Bible, God points humanity to the rainbow—a pre-existent phenomenon of universal scientific laws—with a promise that rising waters will not bring an end to the world as we know it. That is nice. However, people like me are obliged to read more carefully and note that the promise comes in the context of our valuing and caring for every creature. Complacency is never an appropriate response to God’s grace.