Morning Thought – Burns Night

Morning Thought – Burns Night

Guid mornin’  This is surely not the first time the term “shock-jock” has been used to mean a terrible Scottish accent – for which I apologise – but we cannae reach the 25th January without mentioning Rabbie Burns.  Because it was on this day in 1759 that Scotland’s national poet was born and therefore on this night that many around the world will celebrate his life by piping in a haggis, eating it with neeps and tatties, and washing it down with a wee dram or two. 

Through the centuries, different groups of people have tried to appropriate the lyrical ploughman from Ayrshire as their own – including various different denominations of the Christian church.  I will leave them to their debates – I am not qualified to pronounce on what Robert Burns believed or his personal morality. I don’t even share a Scottish heritage with Rabbie.

But as someone convinced that there is a God, that He loves the world that He created and that He longs for us to engage with Him, I find inspiration, encouragement and beauty in some of Burn’s writing.  To God Burns wrote: “O thou, in whom we live and move – who made the sea and shore; Thy goodness constantly we prove, and grateful would adore.”

As we listen to the tragic news reports of continued hostilities around the world today, it is worth remembering that on this day in 1919 the ‘League of Nations’ was formed to try to prevent a repeat of the First World War.  It may have failed in that goal, but countless quests for peace on a large and small scale before and since have succeeded.  Despite the poor example of many who have called themselves Christians, Jesus asserted: “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.”  (Matthew 5)  And Burns affirmed this as he reflected: “… deep this truth impress’d my mind: Thro’ all His works abroad, The heart benevolent and kind The most resembles God.”

The peace that the League of Nations hoped to establish begins with us.  Jesus tells us to: “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.” (Matthew 5)  So if you are celebrating Robbie Burns today, why not include this toast of his: “Here’s to them that like us – Them that think us swell – And here’s tae them that hate us – Let’s pray for them as well!”

Prepared for BBC Jersey Radio