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Language: English / Gàidhlig


Chamber and committees

Meeting date: Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Meeting of the Parliament 10 March 2020

Agenda: Time for Reflection, Business Motion, Topical Question Time, Covid-19 (Update), COP26, Local Government Finance (Scotland) Order 2020 [Draft], Business Motion, Scottish Biometrics Commissioner Bill: Stage 3, Scottish Biometrics Commissioner Bill, Auditor General for Scotland, Decision Time, Blind and Partially Sighted People (Access to Health Information)


Time for Reflection

The Presiding Officer (Ken Macintosh)

Good afternoon. [Interruption.] There was nothing sinister in my cough whatsoever. [Laughter.] We start proceedings with time for reflection. Our time for reflection leader is the Rev Dr Marjory MacLean, who is the convener of the Chaplains to Her Majesty’s Forces Committee of the Church of Scotland.

The Rev Dr Marjory MacLean (Convener, Chaplains to Her Majesty’s Forces Committee, Church of Scotland)

The Hindu festival of Holi began last night and ends today. It is the festival of colours, of spring and of love. It is the day when relationships are mended, laughter is shared and, of course, everyone ends up in a riot of coloured powder. It is the only festival I know of that you do not just “celebrate”—you “play” Holi.

Meanwhile, in the church, we are 13 days into Lent, a period of penitence and reflection that is as far as can be imagined from something you would play. Colour is drained from church buildings, or at least reduced to sombre purple and the grey ash that symbolises Ash Wednesday’s quietening of mood. We who follow Jesus are in our time of self-examination and need-naming. When we reach Easter, the joy will burst out of us, because we have been keeping it squashed inside for all these weeks.

Therefore, at one and the same time in our Scottish community, the celebrations of the joyful and the depths of the subdued are mixed together.

In fact, we often have those contrasts within a single community, and no one sees that more vividly than the chaplains who are commissioned in our armed services, both regular and reservist. On a given day, a chaplain might pop in to see children enjoying the facilities in a resource such as the newly refurbished Drumfork community centre in Helensburgh, and an hour later, spend time with someone who is facing a medical board and suffering from combat-related post-traumatic stress disorder. In a Sunday congregation in a training establishment, a padre may look out from the pulpit at a new-entry trainee who is terrified of the unknown dangers that lie ahead in their career, and moments later be baptising the baby of someone from nearby service accommodation.

I suspect that, as our political representatives, you all know about that, too. You are here to enhance the things about Scotland that are worth celebrating, and simultaneously to serve those who most deeply need your voice and your decisions. You try to rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep, and you will never quite be getting it right for some people.

Know that, as you serve a society full of those tensions, the communities of faith will hold you in our thoughts and our prayers and—most of all—in our thanksgivings.