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Chamber and committees

Meeting date: Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Meeting of the Parliament 04 September 2018

Agenda: Time for Reflection, One Minute’s Silence, Business Motion, Topical Question Time, Programme for Government 2018-19, Programme for Government 2018-19, Junior Minister, Parliamentary Bureau Motions, Decision Time, European Championships 2018


Time for Reflection

The Presiding Officer (Ken Macintosh)

I welcome colleagues back after the summer recess. We begin as usual with the first item of business, time for reflection, for which our leader is the Rev Canon Dominic Ind, former rector and university chaplain, St Saviour’s Episcopal church at Bridge of Allan.

The Rev Canon Dominic Ind (St Saviour’s Episcopal Church, Bridge of Allan)

We have to go back roughly a thousand years, to when Edinburgh and the Lothians belonged to the kingdom of Northumbria, which spanned the seventh century to the 10th century. From that period comes an outstanding figure known as the Apostle of Northumbria. I refer to Aidan of Lindisfarne, who was recognised as a saint by the vast majority of Christians, spanning the Eastern Orthodox Church, the Roman Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion.

Aidan died on 31 August 651; in the Scottish Episcopal Church calendar, it is on 31 August that we give thanks for his life. Last week, what did we celebrate about this monastic bishop, who lived so many centuries ago? Does he have any relevance for us in 2018? We can say certain things about Aidan, such as that he is credited with restoring Christianity to Northumbria and the fact that he founded a monastic cathedral on the island of Lindisfarne and served as its first bishop. For me, though, what stands out is this: he was able to connect in a dynamic way with the nobility of the day as well as with people whom we might call the socially disenfranchised.

St Oswald, who was King of Northumbria from 604 to 641 or 642, was described by the historian Bede as a saintly king and was the most powerful ruler in Britain. He was hugely influenced by the monks of Iona and, particularly, by Aidan. The two lived opposite each other, as Lindisfarne faced Bamburgh, and they both worked to serve the people of the kingdom, mixing with royalty on one hand yet having immense compassion for the most vulnerable in society. For example, Aidan would house and educate orphans and he would personally pay for the freedom of slaves.

Aidan speaks to us today because his life and teaching remind us as to how we should treat our fellow human beings. In Scotland, we are used to the phrase “We’re all Jock Tamson’s bairns” but, sadly, there are plenty of examples in our society in which the philosophy that we are all the same is not manifestly obvious. That equality, to which probably all of us in this building aspire, starts with our attitude to others—we do not differentiate between rich and poor, black and white and so on. Aidan got that and he did not just teach it; he acted on it. May we, like Aidan, treat all people as sacred and precious.

Thank you for listening, and may God bless this Parliament as members return from the summer recess. [Applause.]