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Language: English / Gàidhlig


Chamber and committees

Meeting date: Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Meeting of the Parliament 13 September 2016

Agenda: Time for Reflection, Business Motion, Topical Question Time, Education Governance Review, Common Agricultural Policy Payments, More Homes Scotland (Investment), Decision Time, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde (Services)


Time for Reflection

The Presiding Officer (Ken Macintosh)

Good afternoon. Our first item of business is time for reflection, for which our leader is Pastor Andrew Smith from the Assemblies of God Champion Life church in the east end of Glasgow.

Pastor Andrew Smith (Assemblies of God Champion Life Church, Glasgow)

Thank you, Presiding Officer, for your kind welcome and for the privilege of being here to address Parliament. I bring greetings and prayers from Assemblies of God, which is the Pentecostal denomination that I have the honour of leading, and from the church that I pastor—Champion Life church in the east end of Glasgow.

A couple of weeks ago, I sat down at the end of a busy day and switched on the television, as many of us do. Sky Sports News came on the screen and, because it was transfer deadline day, lots of frantic activity was taking place as football clubs tried to secure last-minute deals. This year, a staggering £1.165 billion was spent in the transfer window, and an incredible £155 million was spent on deadline day alone.

Football is big business these days. For many, it is a matter of life and death—and some say that it is even more than that. The church that I pastor is situated a third of a mile from the home of the Scottish Premiership champions, Glasgow Celtic. Football has come a long way since the 1960s, when a team of young Scottish guys who were all born within a 30-mile radius of Parkhead became the first British team to win the European cup.

Sadly, football is now big business and money has largely spoiled the game’s natural beauty. Advertising and TV sponsorship are central to income, and companies are desperate at all times to showcase their products. Over the years, I have seen many adverts at sporting spectacles, but an advert that I saw a number of years ago when watching a world cup on TV has lived with me most. I saw a young man who was wearing a white T-shirt that had the words “John 3:16” marked clearly on it. That was an obvious reference to the Bible verse in St John’s gospel in which Jesus said:

“For God so loved the world that He gave his one and only son that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life”.

As a Christian minister, I think that that cuts right to the heart of the gospel message that I believe in, preach weekly and—I trust—live out daily. I want to share that quickly with Parliament.

The story is told that, at the end of world war two, an American soldier was making his way back to his army barracks in London. As he turned a corner in his Jeep, he saw a young boy who had his nose pressed against the window of a baker’s shop and who was drooling at the selection of cakes and pastries that was on display.

The soldier pulled the Jeep over, got out and went over to the young boy. The soldier said, “Son, would you like some of these?” The boy was startled. “Sure, mister,” he responded. The American walked in and bought a bag of doughnuts, then handed the bag to the boy. As the soldier walked away, he felt a tug on his jacket sleeve. The little boy said, “Mister, are you God?”

We are never more like God than when we give. John 3:16 says:

“For God so loved the world that He gave his one and only son”.

Thirty-three years ago, the love of God radically changed my life, my priorities and my value systems. The love of God propels me to do what I do today as a Christian minister of the gospel. My prayer for Parliament and for every MSP is that, as you go about your business in Parliament, you will experience more and more of the love of God in your lives. God bless you.