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Chamber and committees

Meeting date: Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Meeting of the Parliament 12 December 2017

Agenda: Time for Reflection, Urgent Question, Topical Question Time, Year of Young People, Point of Order, Decision Time, Violence Against Women and Commercial Sexual Exploitation


Contents


Time for Reflection

The Presiding Officer (Ken Macintosh)

Our first item of business today is time for reflection. Our time for reflection leader is the Rev David McCarthy, rector, St Thomas’ Church, Corstorphine, Edinburgh.

The Rev David McCarthy (St Thomas’ Church, Corstorphine, Edinburgh)

Jesus said:

“I have come that they may have life and life in all its fullness.”

Throughout December, church leaders experience the phrase, “You must be busy at this time of year.” We always smile as though it is the first time that we have heard that. At least it is not, “You only work one day a week.” We are busy, but we also see it as a time to reflect on what we have learned during the year.

One recent conversation has lingered with me. At the tea after a funeral that I conducted, I sat with a group of west Edinburgh mothers. They gave that, “Uh oh—here comes the minister,” look that people often do. It is amazing how a clerical collar can either clear a room or cause people to open up. We got talking about the way in which kids in the area were getting into trouble with the police. I asked the mothers what they believed the causes might be. It is helpful to ask people such questions. They were very candid.

The number 1 cause was lack of respect. They said, “If I ever talked to my mum the way my kids talk to me, one look from my mum would have been enough to shut me up.”

Number 2 was materialism. Many children have grown up with a sense of entitlement and a belief that they deserve everything. Parents struggle to provide what they so often demand.

Number 3 was social media. Bullying still exists. In the old days, kids could hide from it when they got home from school, but not now; there is nowhere to hide. Kids are feeling the pressure, and parents are finding it hard to communicate with them as they are so absorbed in their devices.

I was humbled and challenged. The mothers had shared some of the real problems that families face.

We know that there are major challenges in building a society in which everyone can enjoy life in all its fullness. For me, that involves inviting all to know Jesus Christ, who can forgive sins and who transforms individuals and communities with his love.

That one conversation raised so many questions for me. How can all of us who lead embody in ourselves values that challenge some of the damaging forces at work in our nation? How can we ensure respect for the voices of young and old, live simpler and less self-centred lives and communicate face to face, with deep caring and listening?