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Language: English / Gàidhlig


Chamber and committees

Meeting date: Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Meeting of the Parliament 17 April 2018

Agenda: Time for Reflection, Business Motion, Topical Question Time, NHS Tayside, Air Quality, Burntisland Fabrications, Decision Time, Aberdeen Trades Union Council


Time for Reflection

The Presiding Officer (Ken Macintosh)

Good afternoon and welcome back. The first item of business this afternoon is time for reflection. Our time for reflection leader today is the Rev Alexander Ritchie, minister of Erskine United Free Church, Burntisland, and a former moderator of the General Assembly of the United Free Church of Scotland.

The Rev Alexander Ritchie (Erskine United Free Church, Burntisland)

I greatly appreciate the opportunity to address Parliament this afternoon.

During a recent trip to California, I attended a National Basketball Association game between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Los Angeles Clippers. Sport has always interested me; part of my ministry involves chaplaincy with East Fife Football Club, which is close to my community of Burntisland. The indoor Staples center was somewhat warmer—and infinitely drier—than Bayview stadium outside on a Saturday afternoon in any month of the year.

Basketball teams are allowed to call timeouts in the course of the game, which lets them discuss their tactics, make a substitution or simply encourage one another. Crucially, during each timeout, the match clock is paused and does not move until the timeout ends.

This brief session is labelled “Time for Reflection”. It creates a space for quiet thought before the clock of parliamentary business starts to tick. Whether you are a person of faith or not, it remains a basic human need to make time for that pause: to think rather than to speak, to look at ourselves rather than at everyone else and for calm stillness rather than frantic activity.

In my tradition, Jesus shared personal truths with others, often getting right to the heart of the person rather than the superficial level of their outward appearance. One wealthy man turned away when he could not face selling his possessions to live a transformed, spiritual existence. A woman at a well found herself with someone who was able to explain all about her lifestyle; her words were:

“Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did”.

There are no timeouts yet in force in Scottish football, but we certainly need them in the midst of life’s pressures and stress. In the United Free Church of Scotland, we pray for this chamber and all its members faithfully, asking God for the wisdom and counsel necessary for you to guide our national life. I hope that, in the course of this week and, indeed, this busy day, each of you will take more than just this timeout, with any quiet, yet creative, way to enable you to recharge, reconfigure or reboot—whatever idiom works for you. For me, prayer is vital—a faith aid that is always accessible and never unavailable.

Remember that the game clock pauses while you reflect, so the potential benefits are great, not least because no ground is lost and nothing has changed. You will return to the fray wiser and enriched, and, perhaps, more balanced in perspective and more conciliatory in approach. Thank you.