'We pray that God is with the new First Minister'
Published on 28 March 2023 3 minutes read
The Moderator of the General Assembly has congratulated Humza Yousaf on his election as the new First Minister of Scotland.
Rt Rev Dr Iain Greenshields said he prayed that God would be with him as he seeks to govern for the benefit of all citizens, regardless of their political preferences.
The Moderator is spending the day in the Scottish Parliament and meeting representatives of political parties to discuss a range of issues including proper investment in the social care sector, the Register of Controlled Interest in Land, the UK Government's Illegal Migration Bill and substance use and addiction recovery.
Dr Greenshields delivered Time for Reflection in the debating chamber shortly before MSPs approved Mr Yousaf's election as the sixth First Minister of Scotland and the first member of an ethnic minority to hold the post.
The Moderator said: "On behalf of the Church of Scotland, I would like to extend our warmest congratulations to Humza Yousaf on his election as the new First Minister of Scotland.
"The Church recognises the difficult decisions that people in political authority have to take on behalf of all the people of Scotland, regardless of their political preferences.
"We pray that God is with the new First Minister and all those who hold positions of authority and responsibility.
"We pray that Mr Yousaf is imbued with wisdom, justice, compassion and integrity and he finds the strength and peace to do what is right.
"The people of Scotland are living in challenging times and we look forward to engaging with the First Minister and his government as we all seek to address the most pressing social issues for the common good."
Moderators of the General Assembly regularly visit the Scottish Parliament and hold talks with representatives of political parties to express the concerns of the Church of Scotland on a wide range of issues.
Addressing MSPs and people sitting in the public and media galleries for Time for Reflection, Dr Greenshields tells a Bible story that contrasts three people's actions and asks: "Which of these three do you think was a neighbour to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?
"The expert in the law replied, "The one who had mercy on him."
"Jesus told him, ‘go and do likewise'. Luke 10.
"Good leadership, rooted in service for others, is essential for the good of any society.
"The short passage I read at the beginning is an interaction between Jesus and a Jewish religious leader, where Jesus, in response to the question ‘who is my neighbour' tells the familiar story we know as The Good Samaritan.
"Much has been made of that wonderful responsive story by Jesus but often we forget the concluding remarks between Jesus and his contemporary are fundamental.
"The heart of the story is that the one who showed mercy reflected the quality of love expected by Jesus.
"In the ancient Hebrew language, the word for mercy speaks of the unconditional love that a parent has for their child.
"It is therefore a powerful and primal concept.
"Indeed, mercy, and forgiveness are at the heart of Christian identity.
"We hear from the lips of Jesus as he is crucified, ‘Father, forgive them for they know not what they are doing' – indicating his desire for mercy and not revenge.
"The child of God is someone who receives mercy as a gift from God through Jesus Christ.
Love your enemies
"Yet Jesus expected a gift of such magnificence, grace and magnitude, so freely given, and gladly received, to be personally expressed in all of our relationships.
"Love and mercy is not always easy.
"Love for our neighbour, that person in need whoever they are – love by helping in whatever way we can.
"Love even for our enemies, as Jesus said, not as a suggestion, but as a command – ‘Love your enemies and pray for them'.
"To show mercy and act out of love, therefore, is not primarily a feeling but an act of the will, even when we are deeply hurt and offended by someone else.
"It is to give to another what they do not deserve because we realise that we are the recopients of greater mercy.
"What is the most important quality in leadership? Charisma? Intelligence? Real life experience? Popularity? Vision?
"Or is it people who can be depended upon to show kindness, grace, forgiveness, a generous heart and unconditional love in every circumstance?"
Earlier today, Dr Greenshields met with Christina McKelvie, Scottish Government Minister for Equalities and Older People and Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Alex Cole-Hamilton.
He will hold talks with Scottish Green Party MSP Ross Greer later this afternoon and Scottish Labour Party leader Anas Sarwar tomorrow.
Dr Greenshields met with Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross last week.