Rev James McNeil leads Time for Reflection at Scottish Parliament

Rev James McNeil of Alva Parish Church led the Time for Reflection talk at the Scottish Parliament today (Tuesday 19 March, 2019) telling MSPs that relationships are the key to wisdom.

Rev James McNeil

"I know I look like a minister but before this calling I was trained as a Microbiologist. And the biggest row I ever had with my mum was over that.

"I came home one day and she was talking about how she needed antibiotics for a virus infection she had. I told her that antibiotics wouldn't do any good because antibiotics work on bacteria, not on a virus and the cold is a virus.

"Well for some reason mum took this comment as a slight, that I was looking down on her so she argued that I was wrong.

"And I took this as a slight and as a microbiologist I wasn't going to be corrected.

"By the time dad came in we were nearly screaming at each other.

"Dad came in calmed us down heard our arguments and pronounced his verdict, ‘Your mum's right.'

"And off went mum to the kitchen as happy as Larry.

"I turned to dad and said, ‘How could you say that. Mum's wrong.'

"And he said, ‘Oh I know that.'

"And I said, ‘If you know she is wrong then how could you tell her that she's right?'

"And he said, ‘Jim, You don't need to sleep with her.'

"My dad may have started as a sheet metal worker apprentice, but at that moment he was Yoda, Jedi Master, wisest of all.

"Because he saw that in the end it is not the winning or losing of an argument that matters. In the end it is the relationships that matter, the community that grows, or withers, depending on what we say, what we do.

"Every faith, every philosophy has at its basis the importance of relationships; maybe relationships with a higher being, definitely relationships with those around us.

"So my simple words of advice this day are these; if you are struggling, (and who isn't just now) don't look towards your rituals, or your philosophies, or your religious or political dogmas...look to your relationships, rely on them, work on them, trust in them. May we see our legacy as home we make this country a community that everyone can call HOME."


May we do what we need to do this day, to help grow community. And may we consider how every decision we make helps, or hinders, community.