Rev Dr Alistair May leads Time for Reflection at the Scottish Parliament
Published on 2 February 2021
Rev Dr Alistair May, who is the minister of Dalziel St Andrew's Parish Church in Motherwell, led the Time for Reflection session at the Scottish Parliament remotely today, telling MSPs that we should "believe the best" of one another.
In his speech, Dr May said:
"I urgently needed spare keys to give to a tradesman the next afternoon.
"Only had one set.
"So, I desperately went to the local locksmith's shop.
"'I don't have this type' he said 'but if you leave your set key with me, I'll order one and it will be ready at 10.30 tomorrow.' 'OK' I said.
"10.30am the next morning, I turned up at his shop. It was closed. I phoned the number- it rang out. I came back at 11.30 and 12.30 - same. Shut. I was raging.
"I didn't even have my own key now - I was going to have to cancel the tradesmen.
"At 1.00pm I tried one last time. And the shop was open.
"The key-cutter said: 'ah, you're the guy from yesterday.'
"'Yes, I called at 10.30, 11.30 and 12.30 but you were closed.'
"'Oh', said he. 'The delivery didn't come at 10.30. I knew it was important to you, so I shut my shop and went across Glasgow to get your key. Here it is.'
"Life sometimes preaches a sermon.
"So, Presiding Officer, thank you for letting me share it with you today.
"The conclusion: we assume the worst in people. We assume they don't care.
"We attribute the worst of motives. We can't even seem to disagree without disparaging.
"St Paul writes of Love that it is 'patient and kind'; it:
"'bears all things, and it believes all things.'
"'Loves believe all things.'
"I struggle with that.
"Believe the best about one another?
"Give each other the benefit of the doubt?
"It seems terribly naïve. Gullible.
"And I'm a Calvinist - we believe that people are sinful, and their motives always crooked.
"Yet Calvin wrote 'Love believes all things' that 'a Christian will consider it better to be taken in by his own kindness and good-nature than to cause harm to his brother through ill-founded suspicion.'
"So maybe it is better to risk being naive than to be cynical.
"I'm sure Paul had in mind how Jesus loved people: Jesus saw the whole person, the whole situation.
"He reflected a God whom the Bible says is: 'compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love'.
"Slow to anger.
"So, I leave with you the parable of my Rutherglen locksmith, and the thought that we might start with the assumption that the other person may be doing their best.
"And the humility to consider that perhaps it's us that are getting it wrong."