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Language: English / Gàidhlig


Chamber and committees

Meeting date: Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Meeting of the Parliament 02 October 2018

Agenda: Time for Reflection, Motion of Condolence, Business Motion, Topical Question Time, Social Security Charter, Committee Announcements, Decision Time, Cycle to Syracuse


Time for Reflection

The Presiding Officer (Ken Macintosh)

Good afternoon. The first item of business is time for reflection. Our time for reflection leader is the Rev Ian MacDonald, who is the senior minister at Holy Trinity church in Edinburgh.

The Rev Ian MacDonald (Holy Trinity Church of Scotland, Wester Hailes, Edinburgh)

Thank you for this opportunity to address you today. As you may know, one of the duties and, indeed, privileges of the Christian faith is to pray for the leaders and those in authority. I want to assure you that the Kirk prays for you regularly before the god and father of our Lord Jesus Christ. I might add that we pray for you, not against you, despite what somebody might have told you. Thank you for your hard work and your service, particularly whenever you have demonstrated compassion for the poorest in our communities.

I will start with a question. What do the sewing machine, insulin treatment for diabetics and the double helix structure of DNA have in common? The answer is that it is claimed that they were all revealed by dream or vision. Vision is something that is important for the people of Scotland today. The Bible says:

“Where there is no vision the people cast off restraint, but happy are they that keep the law.”

I believe that there is a lawgiver—a reason for the inexplicable fact that everything in the observable universe of vast solar systems and myriad galaxies, and of the minutest quarks and gluons, follows laws. Christians believe that God has revealed himself as lawgiver not only in the world around us but also in scripture and is therefore the one to whom we must give account. Those laws, on which our justice system is based, are boundaries that protect us, and, applied in love, they add to the happiness of the people. It can feel exhilarating to throw off those laws, but only for a moment. Perhaps, for some in our society, it has felt exciting to cast off the Judeo-Christian ethic that has cemented western society for two millennia. However, casting off all restraint leaves people alone, addicted and without purpose. I once watched a game of rugby union where a tackle came in with such force that it caused a player’s leg to go back at the knee—it has to be imagined rather than described. The television cameras showed it from every possible angle. That leg was completely free, but it was useless. It was never designed to be like that.

I speak today to those entrusted with enacting laws that set the boundaries of freedom in Scotland. However, if our laws and freedoms are to bring happiness to our nation, we need vision. Vision is not something that you get after the pressing matters of the day are out of the way. Vision never comes about by committee—and if the Scottish Parliament and the Church of Scotland have one thing in common, it may be committees. Vision comes when a man or woman sees what could be.

I have served the people of Wester Hailes for 13 years. We have a vision of a time when loneliness, addiction and purposelessness are things that are spoken of only in the past tense. It is a vision that I believe that local churches in local communities are ideally placed to provide the answer to.

If I or the community that I serve lack vision, there is an ancient prayer that is available to all—even to members of this Parliament. Someone turned it into a timeless hymn. It simply says, “Be Thou My Vision”.

Thanks for listening.