Rev Gary Noonan leads Time for Reflection at the Scottish Parliament

Rev Gary Noonan, who is the minister of Houston and Killellan Kirk in Renfrewshire, led the Time for Reflection session at the Scottish Parliament remotely today, telling MSPs we need to "rebuild stronger in compassion, equality and love" after the pandemic.

Rev Gary Noonan, minister of Houston and Killellan Kirk
Rev Gary Noonan, minister of Houston and Killellan Kirk.

Mr Noonan said:

"Presiding Officer, Members of the Scottish Parliament, thank you for the privilege of joining you for time for reflection.

"It is indeed a time for us to reflect as last week we passed a year since the first COVID case in Scotland. This coming Sunday will mark a year since we last held a Sunday service in Houston Kirk, as we closed our worship singing 'Guide me o thou great Jehovah' little did we know what lay ahead.

"In the Bible, Jesus said, they will know you are my disciples if you love one another, a theme we are taking forward at Houston this year throughout Lent. It is summed up beautifully in the final section from the poem 'The Hill we Climb', by Amanda Gorman, written for President Biden's inauguration 'For there is always light, if only we're brave enough to see it, if only we're brave enough to be it!'

"In those first few months of the pandemic the light was visible, as our communities the length and breadth of the country rallied. In Houston the Church coordinated a response to collect food and prescriptions for the vulnerable and the isolating to have phone buddies to keep in touch with the socially isolated, separated from their family and the whole community assisted all faiths and none and despite the dark times there was light!

"We organised foodbank collections for the most vulnerable in our society, in nine months we collected the equivalent of 25,000 meals. We adapted to online platforms for mental health support, musical events that were dementia inclusive and were joined by nursing homes from all across the area there was light to see!

"People commented to me that as they stood out each Thursday night clapping for the NHS and careers, they would end up chatting across the garden to neighbours, they'd previously only said hello to, or passed the time of day they now invested time and community was growing there was light to see!

"However, in the last few months, whether it be lockdown fatigue or a return to old ways society appears to be becoming more polarised. You're either in a group or you're out, there's no middle ground for disagreement or debate. This is a time like no other and as a society we need to be united and strive for something better and rebuild stronger in compassion, equality and love, and that comes down to all of us, faith leaders, politicians, society as a whole. To be brave enough to see the light, but more importantly to be brave enough to be it!

"Thank you presiding officer."