– in the Scottish Parliament on 15th January 2019.
Good afternoon. Our first item of business today is time for reflection. Our time for reflection leader is the Rev Wilhelmina Nesbitt, rector of St John the Evangelist church in Greenock.
The Rev Wilhelmina Nesbitt (Rector, St John the Evangelist Church, Greenock):
Presiding Officer, members of the Scottish Parliament, thank you for the invitation to be here.
In the town of Greenock, where I live and work, we have a well-known viewpoint called Lyle Hill. From the top of Lyle Hill, you can overlook the Firth of Clyde and look across to the islands and the hills beyond. It is a beautiful and uplifting sight, even on the many rainy days that we get in Greenock. However, although I often stop on Lyle Hill during my rounds to enjoy the views, the time always comes to go back down to where my fellow people are and to get back to work. In Christian tradition, even Jesus Christ himself could not stay on the mount of transfiguration enjoying God’s glory but had to return to where people were in need of his service and his love. His mission was to walk shoulder to shoulder with others, especially the exploited and voiceless.
In our little Episcopal church congregation, as many of the other Greenock churches do, we try to model that practical care in our community involvement. Our hall is given over to Compassionate Inverclyde, which provides a place for the lonely and bereaved to meet for food and friendship and a trained listening ear if needed. We offer support to Mind Mosaic, a charity that takes under its wing young people from toddlers to teenagers, putting their lives back together again after abuse, family break-up or mental illness. Similarly, we support Starter Packs Inverclyde, where families and single people are referred so that they can be equipped with basic housekeeping necessities when they make a new start in a flat or house after being homeless or out of work. We try to walk with our fellow creatures through the rough times.
Sometimes, those of us who have the privilege to lead others also have more opportunities to enjoy the uplifting views from the hilltop of that privileged position but, actually, it is down on the level, side by side with our fellow men, women and children of every condition, where we can ultimately be most valuable in what we can offer. This is where humane and enlightened public service to others leads us—to where the vulnerable and the less powerful require our support and agency to enable them to live fuller and more hopeful lives.
Today is a crucial day in our national political life. In the potential uncertainties of the months that lie ahead, may you be enabled in your endeavours through this Parliament to work with courage and wisdom in your vocational task of walking shoulder to shoulder with the people of Scotland. May God bless you all.