I left home at 5am this morning to hook up with some of the board and staff of Glasgow City Mission. We were travelling together to the Hilton at Haymarket in Edinburgh for the National Prayer Breakfast. It was good to see some old friends, and though the format was a bit staid for my taste, nonetheless it was poignant to pray together for the military, their families and the nation in general. All the more poignant as events in Cumbria unfolded this afternoon. I've just begun reading Pete Greig's 'God On Mute' which trys to deal with the silence of unanswered prayer. It's an appropriate read for such a time.
The First Minister, Alex Salmond, was at the next table, as were Cardinal Keith O'Brien, Annabel Goldie, and the Moderator of the General Assembly. I was glad I wore a suit! I was still wearing it at the Gibson Street Gala meeting later in the day. The manager of one of our local coffee emporia, Offshore, was amazed at this sight.
General Sir Richard Dannatt GCB CBE MC (Chief of the General Staff 2006-2009) was the main speaker, and a fascinating one at that. He shared his personal testimony of his walk with Christ, and gave an excellent presentation on good leadership and leaders' failings. He twice mentioned Radislav Krstić's loss of moral compass when he was ordered to kill over eight thousand muslim men and boys in 1995. Dannatt saw the realisation of that failure in Krstić's face as he was sentenced in 2001. A stark reminder of the need for leaders to keep the moral high ground, even at the cost of one's own life.
I was reminded again that 'Obedience to God, Commitment to Christ and Openess to the Holy Spirit' are key attributes of Christian leaders. I needed to hear that and was much encouraged by the main speaker's contribution. He had much to say about the state of the nation and the need for Christians to reassert with confidence the contribution that Christ brings to any society which embraces Him.
I laughed when he described how Sandhurst is designed to strip away everything a young potential officer was in order to rebuild them in to what the army needs them to be (I believe this involves quite a lot of something known as beasting). That sounds just like many experiences of Coates Hall (the defunct Theological College of the Scottish Episcopal Church), only without enough of the rebuilding bit!
It was a very worthwhile morning which I'll need to reflect on a lot more.