Daily Devotional reflections

As we journey through these uncertain times, each day Sean will seek to post a thought or reflection, a Bible verse or a prayer.

Tuesday 23rd June 2020

‘Dracula Salad’

As many locals of Cruden Bay will be aware, the village has strong connections with the author Bam Stoker. He was a regular visitor between 1893 and 1910, taking month long holidays in cottages or staying at the Kilmarnock Arms Hotel. Stoker started writing Dracula whilst a guest at the hotel, and it is though that he drew inspiration from the now ruined Slains Castle for Dracula’s Castle. Two further novels were set in Cruden Bay; 'The Watter's Mou' (1895) and 'The Mystery of the Sea' (1902). But Bam Stoker remains famous for his creation of the monstrous and malevolent blood sucking vampire Count Dracula.

Bam Stoker was raised as a protestant in the Church of Ireland and later attended a private school run by the Rev. William Woods. His creation, Count Dracula could be described as an architype anti-Christ. In the ancient Jewish faith of the Old Testament, animal sacrifice and the pouring or sprinkling of the creature’s blood was a central part of the religious practice of the day. Blood was a symbol of life and the sacrifice represented the forgiveness or expiation of the sins of the people. The killing of the animal and the pouring or sprinkling also represented the sealing of the covenant between God and his people. Another small but important detail appears in Deuteronomy 12:16, which forbids the people from eating or consuming blood. The practice of animal sacrifice within the mainstream ancient Jewish religion ended in 70 AD with the destruction of the temple by the Romans.


Within the Christian religion, the shedding of blood through sacrifice for the forgiveness of sins, takes on a completely new dimension. Rather than the sacrifice of an animal, Jesus the Messiah and Son of God, becomes the sacrifice. His shedding of blood and death by the Romans through crucifixion, is seen as a once for all cosmic act of forgiveness. When we put of faith in Him, it is through his sacrifice that we are each reconciled to God and received the gift of eternal life. Also central to the Christian Faith is the celebration of Holy Communion. Here bread and wine become symbols of Jesus body and blood and serve for the inward renewal of faith and as an outward memorial to remind us both of the privilege and cost of our salvation. It is fascinating how Bam Stoker draws upon many threads of both the ancient Jewish and Christian Faith, seasoned with a good dose of late Victorian gothic and obsession with death to create the ultimate baddie.

Bam Stoker also has a connection with Cruden Parish Church. After his death on the 20 April 1912, his wife, Florence Balcombe, contributed to a pamphlet that was being sold to raise funds for the restoration of the church. Along with a heartfelt tribute to her late husband, Florence provided a recipe for ‘Dracula Salad.’ The instructions said to “arrange alternate slices of ripe tomatoes, and ripe, purple, egg-shaped plums in a dish and dress with oil and vinegar French dressing.” One journalist reported how he purchased ingredients at the supermarket and even managed to ‘Count’ out the right change. He followed the recipe to the letter and concluded, ‘To my horror, it tasted terrible and I soon found myself in a coffin.’

Dracula Salad


Matthew 6: 1-15

“Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.
“So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honoured by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.
“And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.
“This, then, is how you should pray:
“‘Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from the evil one.’
For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins


Whilst we have no need of crucifixes, garlic and holy water to ward off evil, there is much we can learn here. The Christian life brings us into direct conflict with evil. There are the evils of society, such as the values that degraded people. (Racism, poverty etc.) And there is spiritual evil, however we understand this. Jesus himself saw part of his mission to overthrown evil. And in the Lord’s prayer, he taught us to pray to deliver us from evil or the evil one.

Rev Sean Swindells


St. Patrick's Breastplate is a popular prayer attributed to one of Ireland’s most beloved patron saints. According to tradition, St. Patrick wrote it in 433 A.D. for divine protection before successfully converting the Irish King Leoghaire and his subjects from paganism to Christianity.

I arise today
Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
Through belief in the Threeness,
Through confession of the Oneness
of the Creator of creation.
I arise today
Through the strength of Christ's birth with His baptism,
Through the strength of His crucifixion with His burial,
Through the strength of His resurrection with His ascension,
Through the strength of His descent for the judgment of doom.
I arise today
Through the strength of the love of cherubim,
In the obedience of angels,
In the service of archangels,
In the hope of resurrection to meet with reward,
In the prayers of patriarchs,
In the predictions of prophets,
In the preaching of apostles,
In the faith of confessors,
In the innocence of holy virgins,
In the deeds of righteous men.
I arise today, through
The strength of heaven,
The light of the sun,
The radiance of the moon,
The splendour of fire,
The speed of lightning,
The swiftness of wind,
The depth of the sea,
The stability of the earth,
The firmness of rock.
I arise today, through
God's strength to pilot me,
God's might to uphold me,
God's wisdom to guide me,
God's eye to look before me,
God's ear to hear me,
God's word to speak for me,
God's hand to guard me,
God's shield to protect me,
God's host to save me
From snares of devils,
From temptation of vices,
From everyone who shall wish me ill,
afar and near.
I summon today
All these powers between me and those evils,
Against every cruel and merciless power
that may oppose my body and soul,
Against incantations of false prophets,
Against black laws of pagandom,
Against false laws of heretics,
Against craft of idolatry,
Against spells of witches and smiths and wizards,
Against every knowledge that corrupts man's body and soul;
Christ to shield me today
Against poison, against burning,
Against drowning, against wounding,
So that there may come to me an abundance of reward.
Christ with me,
Christ before me,
Christ behind me,
Christ in me,
Christ beneath me,
Christ above me,
Christ on my right,
Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down,
Christ when I sit down,
Christ when I arise,
Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.

The Lord’s prayer

Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
you will be done,
on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins
as we forgive those who sin against us.
Save us from the time of trial
and deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power
and the glory are yours
now and forever.


Let the majesty of the Father
be the light by which you walk,
the compassion of the Son
be the love by which you walk,