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Chamber and committees

Meeting date: Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Meeting of the Parliament (Hybrid) 30 November 2021

Agenda: Time for Reflection, Business Motion, Topical Question Time, Covid-19, Storm Arwen (Response), Deaths in Prison Custody, Residential Rehabilitation, Gender-based Violence, Decision Time, Lamb for St Andrew’s Day Campaign


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 across the Holyrood campus.

The first item of business is time for reflection. Our leader today is Sally Fraser, who is Edinburgh city centre chaplain for Work Place Chaplaincy Scotland.

Presiding Officer and members of the Scottish Parliament, I thank you for the opportunity to address you today, and wish you a happy St Andrew’s day.

We do not know much about St Andrew but, for those of us who believe and look for inspiration in the Jesus story, he was a disciple—a follower. Two things stand out that might be of interest to all of us in Scotland today.

Andrew was busy with his ordinary everyday life—fishing—when he was approached by a stranger and outsider: Jesus. At the time, Andrew had not yet witnessed any miracles. He was simply curious, which is a great gift, and open to possibilities—to accepting the newcomer and the call to do extraordinary things.

I am privileged to visit people in their ordinary lives every day as workplace chaplain. People all over the city are open and welcoming to me, as a stranger and outsider, and I am struck by just how much they, particularly at the moment, accept the call to the extraordinary. The kindness and courage with which people operate in their work is remarkable. They act out of love, for family and community—the love that, as we know, is not a feeling, but the choices and actions and the keeping going when we do not feel like keeping going at all.

Andrew also appears in the familiar story in which Jesus fed more than 5,000 people. Andrew noticed a young boy with five loaves and two fish, and mentioned it. I love his faith and courage there. Everyone could have said, “Don’t be ridiculous, Andrew. How is that going to help?” However, he was willing and able to recognise the contributions and gifts of another.

As a woman of faith, I believe that that openness to the offerings of others, however big or small, makes space for the creativity and intention of God. We take some responsibility and do our bit and, in his mysterious and usually annoyingly slow way, he does his. Whatever we believe, accepting and speaking up about others’ contributions inspires them to come forward with creativity and hope for the greater good.

I pray that you will be confident and courageous this week in bringing forth your gifts and accepting the gifts of others, and that you stay curious, be open to possibilities, and be strengthened and upheld as you make choices and keep going for love, even if you do not feel like it.