The Parish of Saint Cuthbert

I don’t know who Saint Cuthbert is. I do know that I have walked through the church yard of the Parish of Saint Cuthbert in Edinburgh, Scotland. My wife and I stayed in a nearby hotel during our honeymoon, and we took a stroll through the church yard one afternoon on the way back to our room.

Vacationing in a country that can date historical sites back a thousand years is an interesting experience. It leads to a lot of interesting discussions about what “historic” means. In the US we discuss sites dating back to 1770s and consider that historic. In Scotland, you can find small church parishes that have a longer verbal tradition than our entire country.

What caught my eye about this particular sign was the deeper message it shared. While the parish grounds have been a site of Christian worship for thirteen centuries, many churches have stood on the site. Many generations and many congregations of worshipers have met on those grounds. What lesson does that teach so many other younger churches that have celebrated their 10th, 50th, 100th or 150th anniversaries?

What will we leave behind? Probably not a building with the same name above the door 300 years from now. Hopefully a place, a memory, a tradition where future generations of worshipers know they can come and worship as so many generations before gathered.