Pumpkins sit at doors, windows are decorated with pictures of ghosts and suchlike. It has changed a bit since many of us were wee – gone are the turnips, the treacle scones and ‘dookin’ for apples’, and ‘guising’ has morphed into ‘trick-or-treat’ as American influences have crept in and changed old Scottish customs and terminology. Traditionally the evening of 31 October was supposed to be a time when ‘spirits’ and ‘evil forces’ were out and about being either mischievous or malicious. Children and adults are warned not to go out tonight – not to avoid meeting ghosts, witches or other fearful creatures, but something very real, even scarier and more dangerous, the Covid virus. Centuries ago the church instituted All Saints Day (‘All Hallows Day’ in an older version of English) to encourage people that the force of ‘good’ was more powerful than the force of ‘evil’. Maybe we need to look at that message and adapt it for the world-view of 2020: the force of ‘good’ – care and concern for neighbours, and those experiencing food and fuel poverty, unemployment, mental health issues etc; appreciation of ‘key workers’; the skill and expertise of health staff and researchers; concern about the Climate Emergency – is more powerful than all the news we hear about rising infection rates, whom we can meet where, politics, war and economic hardship. And for people of faith there is the added assurance that we are not going through this alone
Lord, customs at times like Hallowe’en may have changed over the years, but people probably still have the same kind of hopes and fears that humanity has always had. There are many things to concern us, both at home and overseas. It is easy to look outside, or hear the news, and feel ‘down’. Reassure us that ‘good’ is stronger than ‘bad’, ‘hope’ than ‘despair’. Make us ready to go out and ensure that ‘good’ will triumph
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