I thank colleagues who will participate in the debate, and I acknowledge those in the public gallery who have come to listen, while acknowledging the many others who would have been here if they had been able. Thank you very much.
To many people, religion or the church evokes images of damp walls and cold pews, or of an empty but iconic building standing tall and proud—perhaps too tall and proud for some people’s sensibilities—yet at the heart of the Christian faith is the story that Jesus told about the Good Samaritan. That title might be the stuff of Sunday school stories, but it is every bit as relevant today as it ever was.
I t is the story of somebody who was left battered and bruised, confused and alone by all that life threw at him. There are still too many in Scotland who are in that situation because they are living with abuse, addiction, homelessness, loneliness, poverty and fear. They are forgotten, abandoned and alienated from society as victims of this world’s selfishness, greed and evil desires.
Those who know the story of the Good Samaritan will know that individual after individual, with all the right clothes and all the right qualifications, who looked every bit the story of success, hurried past this poor guy who was left in the gutter of life with barely a glance and certainly no helping hand.
T he man remained still forgotten, still abandoned and still alienated from society until a stranger came along—someone who was vulnerable himself, who was from another part of the world, who had perhaps been subjected to abuse and who was certainly not in step with contemporary culture. He stopped and
“took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds.”
The Good Samaritan looked after the man until he was ready to face the world again.
That story motivates people in churches across Scotland to serve the most marginalised in our society.