Ramble for Kirwan Uniting Church Keeping in Touch newsletter 21 November 2021
In our Revised Common Lectionary, today, the Sunday before the beginning of Advent, is Christ the King. The liturgical colour is white. But I shan’t be wearing a stole, and we’re not going to change the lectern frontal only to have to change it again to Advent purple next week. But for centuries, before the advent (unintended pun) of the RCL, today was known in the English-speaking world as “Stir up Sunday”. The soubriquet derives from the opening words of the Collect for the Day in the 1662 Book of Common Prayer (Document of blessèd memory 😊)
"Stir up, we beseech thee, O Lord, the wills of thy faithful people; that they, plenteously bringing forth the fruit of good works, may of thee be plenteously rewarded; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen”
And by tradition, it was when families gathered together in the kitchen to mix and steam Christmas pudding. Parents taught their children how to mix ingredients for the pudding. Everyone took a turn to stir the pudding mix and make a wish for the year ahead. Also by tradition, the pudding mixture was stirred from East to West in honour of the three wise men who visited the baby Jesus. Most recipes for Christmas pudding required it to be cooked well in advance of Christmas and then reheated on Christmas Day, so the collect of the day served as a useful reminder.
You might be thinking, I’m sure that the admonition to stir up is in the Bible somewhere? King James 2 Timothy 1:6 “Wherefore I put thee in remembrance that thou stir up the gift of God, which is in thee … For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” Or as it’s usually rendered nowadays, “Fan into flame the gift … ”
You want to be a more confident witness for Christ? Think you haven’t got the gift? Yes you have, it’s God’s gift to you, just fan it into flame. Go on, be a stirrer!