The Church of Scotland Moderator’s New Year message below has been taken from its original source on the Church of Scotland’s website.
“At New Year I am always conscious of the gap between what I wish for and the reality of what is and what may be possible.
In 2014 we in Scotland will make some decisions which will chart the course of our future as a country. Imagining Scotland’s future – a consultation led by the Church of Scotland – has provided us with some key elements of these hopes and dreams. Individuals coming to the gatherings in church halls across the country are telling us that, regardless of the referendum result, they wish society to be characterised by integrity, fairness and a sense of well-being.
I am concerned we may be turning into a society with an ever increasing desire to acquire what we want, when we want it. Adverts during sports and other TV programmes encourage us to place bets using tablets and smart phones within arm’s reach. Gambling has a long history, but we are now in an era where it is more accessible because of new technology and promoted more through mass advertising.
The ads seek to present regular gambling as a cool, normalised part of our culture. Companies may become richer through this commerce. The danger is that individuals and their families simply become debt-ridden, with all the misery that entails.
It is of little comfort that other adverts seem to suggest that it is pragmatic to solve financial problems by taking out loans with eye-watering interest rates.
Many disabled and long term unemployed worried about how changes to the benefits system will affect them. Daily we witness continued violence and the subsequent never ending stream of refugees. Food banks continue to provide for some of the ever-increasing number of folk struggling to make ends meet.
It would be terribly easy, faced with so many seemingly insurmountable problems, to give up hoping and dreaming. From within the Christian faith we are called upon not only to dream of a just and fair society but to put all our efforts into building that society.
So dream with me of a world where children do not go to bed hungry or in fear; where the lonely and the elderly are cared for with dignity and respect; where the poor and vulnerable are not the prey of those with few scruples. Dream with me of a world where we can live in peace, respectful of one another’s beliefs.
God, whose love for us is boundless, is hoping and dreaming for us more than we can ask or even imagine possible.”