Meeting date: Tuesday, February 2, 2021
Meeting of the Parliament (Hybrid) 02 February 2021 [Draft]
Agenda: Time for Reflection, Topical Question Time, Covid-19, Construction and Procurement of Ferry Vessels, Scottish Parliament (Assistance for Political Parties) Bill: Stage 3, Decision Time
- Time for Reflection
- Topical Question Time
- Construction and Procurement of Ferry Vessels
- Scottish Parliament (Assistance for Political Parties) Bill: Stage 3
- Decision Time
Time for Reflection
Good afternoon, colleagues. As usual, we start this afternoon’s business with time for reflection. Our time for reflection leader today is the Rev Dr Alistair May from Dalziel St Andrew’s parish church in Motherwell.
I urgently needed a spare set of keys to give to a tradesman the next afternoon. I had only one key. At the last minute, I went to the local locksmith’s shop. “I don’t have the type”, he said, “but if you leave the key with me, I’ll order one and it’ll be ready at 10.30 tomorrow.” I agreed.
At 10.30 the next morning, I came back. The shop was closed. I phoned the number on the board outside and it rang out. I came back at 11.30 and 12.30, but it was the same—the shop was shut. I was absolutely raging. I did not even have my own key now, so I was going to have to cancel the tradesman and all my plans.
At 1 o’clock, I tried one last time. The shop was open. The key cutter said, “You’re the guy from yesterday.” “Yes”, I said. “I called at 10.30, 11.30 and 12.30 but you were closed.” “Oh”, he said. “The delivery didn’t come at 10.30. I knew it was important to you, so I shut my shop and went across Glasgow to get your key. Here it is.” Needless to say, I felt about 2 inches tall.
Life sometimes preaches a sermon at us. Presiding Officer, thank you for letting me share this sermon with you today. The conclusion? Aside from “Trust small traders”, perhaps, it is that we assume the worst in people. We assume that they do not care. We attribute the worst of motives. We cannot even seem to disagree without disparaging. Social media makes it 10 times worse.
St Paul writes of love that it is “patient”, “kind” and “not easily angered”, but he goes on to say this:
“Love bears all things, believes all things”.
Love believes all things. I really struggle with that. Believe the best about one another? Give one another the benefit of the doubt? That can seem terribly naive, or even gullible. I am a Calvinist—we are supposed to believe that all people are sinful and that their motives are always crooked, and yet Calvin wrote of “Love believes all things” that
“a Christian will consider it better to be taken in by his own kindness and good nature than to cause harm to his brother through ill-founded suspicion”,
so maybe it is better to be naive than to be cynical.
When Paul wrote that, I am sure that he had Jesus in mind—Jesus, who saw the whole person and the whole situation; Jesus, who reflected the love of God. The Bible says of God that he is
“compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love.”
Abounding in love and slow to anger.
I leave you with the parable of my Rutherglen locksmith, but also with the thought that we might start with the assumption that the other person may be doing their best in a situation that we do not understand, and with the humility to consider that perhaps it is us who has got it wrong.