A question of faith, a statement of hope and an action of courage

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by Father Ross K Bell

I am a priest.  My life has always been about living with big questions and seeking sensible answers from which there is concomitant action.  I was part of the brain drain that left Scotland but has returned to live and fight for justice in the land of my birth and of my forebears.

Many people of faith will be going to the polls to elect our next Holyrood Government.  The Holy Rood, now there is an image of diverse community brought together: on the Rood (the cross) is a man unjustly tried and condemned, below him his mother and his friend.   The words spoken from the cross were for the ancient Celtic Church the foundation of Community.  “Woman here is your son” and to the disciple “here is your mother”.  Not a biological family but the cornerstone of Community and Society based on care.  That is what still holds Scotland’s society together – care.  We dare to care for and about one another.

I have worked in some tough places in the world, but I am glad and proud to be a member of a society that enshrined gay lesbian and transgendered rights in legislation, that still provides free education, that takes care of its elderly, that provides health care for the poorly in body, mind and spirit, that looks for enterprise to create jobs, where ecology is taken seriously shown through a commitment to non-nuclear green energy and has a devolved Government which is willing to stand up to bullies and assert social justice.  

Those bullies come in many forms – other nation states who may deride our laws and our common humanity when a sick prisoner with cancer is released and returned home to die.  Or it may be a bully closer to home trying to belittle the potential of our nation.  I have faith in the people of Scotland that through our canny wit and courageous determination we will break free of oppression from Westminster because I have faith that people will see within that endeavor their own liberation.

So from faith to hope: as I read of the steps being forged by the Scottish National Party in the days leading up to May 5th, I find my hope growing.  As a dour Scot, this is an unfamiliar place.  Dare I believe?  Dare I hope?  YES, I dare.  My clan motto (Ross) is success breeds hope, as we succeed in getting a message of liberation across in spite of the insipid BBC and in the face of a growing storm from Wasteminster, there is a palpable sense of hope within our ranks in the SNP and on the streets of our land.  I join all people of faith and hope to share that sense of purpose, to pray and act for an SNP Government that will bring justice, protect the poor, look after the ill and liberate the oppressed.

I call on each of my fellow countrymen and women to be hopeful and courageous on May 5th – let’s act to bring independence to this caring and diverse society.  People of faith have always been hopeful and courageous, Scotland has exported many an example of such.  Now it is time for that example to be shown at home.  Let us prove what a faithful, hopeful and courageous nation can truly achieve.

And in keeping with a preacher’s ontological nature, I finish with the (amended) words of a song by Ben Kelly familiar to every Bravehearted Scot standing in Murrayfield …

Highland Cathedral

Land of my forebears, we will always be
Faithful and loyal to our country.
In times of danger we will set you free.
Lead you to honour and to victory.

Hail, Caledonia, to our ancient prayer. In this
Highland Cathedral, let our standards bear.
Joining together with one dream to share.
God bless the people of this land so fair.

Gone is the past, let us start anew.
Let this hope of peace always remain.
Spirit of Scotia, be strong and true.
Then your children will smile again.

Rise Caledonia, let your voices ring in this
Highland Cathedral of our God and King.
Whom, joy and liberty, to all will bring.
Come, let your heart, with love and courage, sing.

Lonely the exile o’er distant seas.
The home of their birth, gone from their eyes.
Bring back their souls o’er the ocean breeze
To the land where their forebears lie.

Rise Caledonia, let your voices ring in this
Highland Cathedral of our God and King.
Whom, joy and liberty, to all will bring.
Come, let your heart, with love and courage, sing
.

Oh and PS – Vote SNP twice on May 5th

With love and prayers

Father Ross   xx