A Kirk minister has drawn on the symbolism of the baptism of Jesus to reflect hope for “a new beginning”.

Rev Dan Harper of Bridge of Allan Parish Church in Stirlingshire appeared before MSPs in the Scottish Parliament this afternoon – the first day of new business for 2018.

He said he hoped that the Church and parliamentarians could work together for the benefit of all people, “no matter their life circumstances or religious or political beliefs”.

Mr Harper delivered Time for Reflection in the debating chamber, which heralds the start of the parliamentary business week.

His appearance was sponsored by Keith Brown, MSP for Clackmannanshire and Dunblane.

Here is what Mr Harper said: –

Thank you presiding office and thank you members of the Scottish Parliament and a Happy New Year to you all.

As we stand at the new beginning of a new year it is easy to cast our minds back and think about all that has gone before us.

It is natural to lament past challenges and celebrate old victories and find ourselves buoyed or sunk by the same, but as new beginnings arrive we must intentionally look forward.

In the last couple of years I have stood at a few new beginnings.

The two that shine brightly are the new beginning of my ordination as parish minster of Bridge of Allan Parish Church, and the exciting and wonderfully engulfing new beginning of parenthood.

Both of these significant life events have thrust me into worlds that I could never have imagined, even though I read, studied, asked questions and did everything I possibly could to find out what these new beginnings meant.


The feeling that surrounded me as I looked forward from the cusp of these two life changing events was one of hope.

Not a passive hope, but an active hope for the future; a future working in the Church where I am a position to encourage others to live out their faith in love and service; and a future where my child will be able to grow, enquire and explore all that interests her, taking me along for the ride.

At this time of the year the church calendar is starting to move on from Christmas things.

Whether it is the magi visiting the two year old Jesus at Epiphany or the narratives concerning the adult life of Jesus beginning with his baptism, our hearts and minds start to look forward.

The baptism of Jesus changed the understanding of baptism from being simply about cleansing and purification to symbolising a new beginning.


A fresh start where we are filled with expectation of what might come rather than embarrassment and regret at what has been.

As we stand at the beginning of this New Year, and the new parliamentary term, we should, therefore, take the opportunity of a fresh start and look forward with hope.

Hope that our past and future mistakes will not define us.

Hope that our own lives, and the lives of our loved ones, will be full of opportunities to grow, enquire and explore.

Hope that we can work together for the benefit of all people, no matter their life circumstances or religious or political beliefs.