During the last weekend the Rectory garden saw the presence of seven professional archaeologists as they, in three days, tried to find evidence of the 13th century Franciscan Abbey, the remains of which is believed to be beneath our church grounds. The skill and patience of the workers was extraordinary as they dug and sifted great mounds of Lothian soil in the 25 degree heat. After two days, despite their efforts there seemed to be little to get excited about.
On the Sunday, however, things looked up. At the depth of just over four foot a small piece of pottery was found, probably dating from the thirteenth century (still with decoration on it) and beneath that there was what looked like a corner of a flagstone. Was this the floor of the Abbey?
Had they found what they were looking for? Dr Jon Cooper’s official report is in this month’s Gloria, but the excavation was quite something to see.
This experience reminded me, not only of the passing of time, but also the great “cloud of witnesses” who have gone before us, who lived and worshipped in the Franciscan precinct and in the later built Holy Trinity: eleven hundred years of daily prayers and hymns … bowed knees and heads … worshipping hearts and repentant individuals. It is quite extraordinary to think of. In the Vestry we have the pictures of many past clergy; and just inside the front door we have a recently updated list of names of past Rectors … but even they are just a blink of eye in the whole history of God’s time.
On the 1st October we celebrate our Harvest Festival, which is traditionally a time of thanksgiving. This year, we will, as usual, give thanks for the annual harvest of crops and food, the evidence of which we can see in our fields which pepper our county. But the “Not Big Dig” made me also think of Jesus talking of the gathering in of the spiritual harvest (Jn 4: 35), a harvest which we continue to work and give thanks for, a harvest of people who have been part of the Body of Christ for hundreds of years. They are the faithful who have literally walked this ground before us … and now we, who follow on, are the faithful who continue their work … who write the next chapter of the book of Holy Trinity Haddington … and who are now the cloud of witnesses for a future generation who will also worship on this holy ground and make footprints of their own. It’s quite something to think of.
God “is the same yesterday, today and forever” as it is written in the letter to the Hebrews, and I find that a comforting thought. I also makes me think of the quote from Isaiah 40:8: “The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever.” Thanks be to God.
with love, Liz