Time for Reflection

– in the Scottish Parliament at 12:00 pm on 28th November 2001.

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Photo of Lord David Steel Lord David Steel Presiding Officer, Scottish Parliament 12:00 pm, 28th November 2001

To lead our time for reflection, I welcome Rev David Hamilton, who is the Church of Scotland parish minister in Rannoch.

Rev David Hamilton (Church of Scotland Parish Minister in Rannoch):

The Scottish historian, Professor Geoffrey Barrow, concludes a brief study of Robert the Bruce by referring to

"a deep yearning, shared by people in Scotland and Scots the world over, for an identity and a history which it seems ... inhumane, unjust and unwise to deny them."

I believe that everyone here, regardless of party affiliation, can relate to that.

Few of us will forget the glorious days of the re-establishing of the Parliament, with its sense of history, its sense of identity and its sense of purpose. Then came the questioning, the sniping and backbiting; for we Scots are both passionate and impatient. We want things sorted and we want them sorted now.

As representatives of the people of Scotland, you know the need for that passion—a passion for justice and for the well-being of every citizen. You also know what many others too readily forget—that this is a young Parliament and that all of you are still on a very steep learning curve. It will take time.

Nevertheless, on a day of new beginnings, take heart from what has already been achieved. There is much that is pleasing in the small print of what has been accomplished. If we are impatient, that is only because so much more is still to be done. That is in the nature of your vocation, just as it is in the nature of my work as a parish minister. There is so much to do and never enough time or sufficient resources to do it. I return again and again to the sense of vocation that we find in Jesus of Nazareth. The German martyr and theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer called Jesus the man for others. That is a phrase to conjure with.

The late John F Kennedy seldom used the word "politics", but spoke instead of public service. You and I, together, are in public service—we are called to be men and women for others. That is a tough call. You need a sense of personal identity and must know who you are and what you are about. You need a sense of corporate identity, recognising that the nation of Scotland has been something great and what it can yet be. However, with that sense of identity comes the need for responsibility. You are in public service. You are called to lead. You are men and women for others. May Jesus Christ, the man for others, be your guide.