And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.—Hebrews 10:24-25 (ESV)
According to Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia found through a search on Google, “the liturgical year, also known as the church year, consists of the cycle of liturgical seasons in Christian churches which determines when feast days, including celebrations of saints, are to be observed, and which portions of Scripture are to be read. The dates of the festivals vary somewhat between the different churches, though the sequence and logic is largely the same.”
Protestant churches observe far fewer festivals than Catholic and Orthodox, in particular with regard to feasts of the Virgin Mary and the other Saints. Non-denominational Bible churches, like the one I attend don’t actually observe a church calendar year. However, growing up in the United Methodist Church, I did become accustomed to some of the traditions, in particular the observance of Advent, the four Sundays preceding Christmas Day.
I grew up understanding that Advent was a time of expectant waiting and anticipation of the birth of Christ. Also, for most churches, the church calendar year begins with the first Sunday of Advent. However, I wasn’t aware that some of the early churches observed the last Sunday before Advent (and the last Sunday of the church year) as a special day as well. That day was called Stir-Up Sunday, and this year that day was a few weeks ago on November 24.
Stir-Up Sunday is an informal term that was coined in the early Anglican church from the opening words of the Collect for the Day in the Book of Common Prayer: Stir up, we beseech thee, O Lord, the wills of thy faithful people; that they, plenteously bringing forth the fruit of good works, may be plenteously rewarded; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Since most recipes for Christmas pudding called for the mixture to stand for several weeks before cooking, the congregation would go to church, hear the words “stir up” and be reminded that it was time to start stirring up the puddings and other seasonal recipes for Christmas.
The prayer is clearly referencing more than the action of using a spoon to mix up ingredients in a bowl. The prayer asks for God to stir up the wills of the people, so that we can bring forth the fruit of good works that He has planned for us to do. A prayer for God to stir us into action, so that each of us can be used to accomplish His purpose.
Every morning I start off my day with a cup of coffee, adding two spoons of real sugar and milk. I absolutely savor the taste of that first cup! What a blessing to be able to walk into the warmth (or coolness) and security of my own kitchen and pour a cup of coffee, and I do thank God every single morning for that privilege. However, if I forget to stir, the sweetness just sits at the bottom and that first sip is extremely bitter. Immediately, my happy thoughts of thanksgiving are interrupted, as I reach for the spoon.
Today, think of what you and God need to work on together to get that sweet taste of joy and love; to prepare for the day. He will stir you into all kinds of situations and with all kinds of people to use you for His purpose. Don’t just sit at the bottom of the cup, interrupting His plans for your life. Allow the Creator to stir you up into His unique and special creation, all for His glory.
In His Love!