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Chamber and committees

Meeting date: Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Meeting of the Parliament (Hybrid) 25 August 2020

Agenda: Time for Reflection, Business Motion, Topical Question Time, Ferguson Marine, Business Motion, Children (Scotland) Bill: Stage 3, Children (Scotland) Bill, Parliamentary Bureau Motion, Decision Time


Contents


Time for Reflection

The Presiding Officer (Ken Macintosh)

Good afternoon. The first item of business is time for reflection, and our leader today is the Rev Fraser Macnaughton, the minister of St Magnus Cathedral, Kirkwall, Orkney. I invite the Rev Fraser to speak.

The Rev Fraser Macnaughton (St Magnus Cathedral, Orkney)

I got a new parlour game for my birthday, which coincided with lockdown. It is called “Wordsmithery” and is a combo of charades and “Who’s in the Bag?”, determining the vocabularic competence of the players. You can maybe guess from the end of that last sentence that I am keen on words.

Words come in numerous forms, languages and sounds—I think that the words rose and rows have eleven different meanings—not to mention accents and dialect. For a Weegie living in Orkney, that has taken a while to get a handle on. Then, when it comes to grammar—well, let’s not go there.

The late, great Ronnie Barker was, of course, a genius when it came to playing with words. The special bag that we have in St Magnus Cathedral for the spent night lights that people place on the stand is labelled “Fork ‘andles”—just one of the memorable Barkerisms that folk grew up with but which transcends generations.

All through my ministry, I have attempted to avoid being sucked into religious words. After centuries of handling and mishandling, most religious words have become so shopworn that nobody is much interested any more. However, there is one word—there may be others—that bucks the trend. Grace, for some reason, mysteriously, still has some of the bloom left. That is even more true of its derivatives, such as gracious and graceful .

Grace is something that we can never get but can only be given. There is no way to earn it or deserve it or bring it about, any more than we can deserve the taste of raspberries and cream or earn good looks or bring about our own birth.

A good sleep is grace and so are good dreams—but we cannot try to have a good dream. The smell of rain is grace. Somebody loving us is grace. Loving somebody is grace. Have you ever tried to love somebody?

The grace of God, however the word “God” is understood, could mean something like: “Here is your life. You might never have been, but you are, because the party wouldn’t have been complete without you. Here is the world. Beautiful and terrible things will happen. Don’t be afraid. I am with you. Nothing can ever separate us. It’s for you I created the universe. I love you.”

There is only one catch—[Interruption.]

The Presiding Officer

Colleagues, I will pause for a second to see whether we can get the Rev Macnaughton back.

We recorded him earlier. No, he is live. Can you hear me? I can see that you can hear us. It is typical that we managed to lose the last words of your thoughtful contribution on words. I also apologise for confusing your first name and your surname. You are the Rev Macnaughton, not the Rev Fraser.

We lost the signal just before you finished. I wonder whether you could pick up before the last paragraph of your thoughtful contribution. You are still on mute. Can you unmute yourself?

The Rev Fraser Macnaughton

How is that?

The Presiding Officer

That is perfect. [Applause.]

The Rev Fraser Macnaughton

Okay.

The Presiding Officer

That is a round of applause from the chamber.

The Rev Fraser Macnaughton

The grace of God, however the word “God” is understood, could mean something like: “Here is your life. You might never have been, but you are, because the party wouldn’t have been complete without you. Here is the world. Beautiful and terrible things will happen. Don’t be afraid. I am with you. Nothing can ever separate us. It’s for you I created the universe. I love you.”

There is only one catch. Like any other gift, the gift of grace can be ours only if we will recognise it and accept it.

The Presiding Officer

Thank you. You can add “perseverance” to your list of words this week.