Good morning, folks, and a joyous Sunday to you! For those of us who are Christians, today is the Sunday Next Before Advent (Propers follow, below): since the Church’s calendar begins on Advent Sunday, then in a sense I suppose one could think of this as the Christian “New Year’s Eve.” Although if we become intoxicated, let it be with the Holy Spirit, and not with more carnal potions! At least not this early in the day…
Today is also known as “Stir-Up Sunday,” from the opening words of the Collect for the day: “Stir up, we beseech thee, O Lord, the wills of thy faithful people…” – a most apt petition, on this last Sunday before the beginning of the season of both penitent preparation and joyous expectation that is Advent! Indeed, just as the “Gesima” Sundays in late Winter prepare us for the coming of Lent, so “Stir-Up” Sunday gives us the opportunity to prepare to keep a holy Advent.
It is also the day on which many in England (and some here in the States, if of English heritage and affections) “stir up” the traditional Christmas pudding. The lovely “Full Homely Divinity” blog recounts the matter thus:
“On the Sunday before the beginning of Advent, it has always been customary to make the Christmas pudding (a type of fruit cake) so that the flavors could blend and age properly for the pudding to be at its best when eaten at Christmas dinner. Everyone shares in the making of the pudding, taking turns stirring it (east to west, the direction the wise men traveled) and each person making a wish while taking her or his turn at stirring…
“In the full homeliest manner, the making of the pudding renews a sense that the presence and purposes of God are never far removed from quotidian [daily] life. The sweetness of the pudding is a sign that God always desires the peace and happiness of his people. The contents of the pudding are a subtle reminder of a principal object of the Christian life: the fruit of good works, referred to in the collect.”
Sadly, alas, I shall not be stirring up a Christmas pudding this year; but I hope and pray that my will, and the wills of all who read this, may be stirred up by God’s good Spirit, that we may plenteously bring forth the fruit of good works, and by Him be plenteously rewarded.
Propers for The Sunday next before Advent.
The Book of Common Prayer 1928.
STIR up, we beseech thee, O Lord, the wills of thy faithful people; that they, plenteously bringing forth the fruit of good works, may by thee be plenteously rewarded; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
For the Epistle. Jer. xxiii. 5.
BEHOLD, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth. In his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely: and this is his name whereby he shall be called, THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS. Therefore, behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that they shall no more say, The Lord liveth, which brought up the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt; but, The Lord liveth, which brought up and which led the seed of the house of Israel out of the north country, and from all countries whither I had driven them; and they shall dwell in their own land.
The Gospel. St. John vi. 11.
WHEN Jesus then lifted up his eyes, and saw a great company come unto him, he saith unto Philip, Whence shall we buy bread, that these may eat? And this he said to prove him: for he himself knew what he would do. Philip answered him, Two hundred penny-worth of bread is not sufficient for them, that every one of them may take a little. One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, saith unto him, There is a lad here, which hath five barley loaves, and two small fishes: but what are they among so many? And Jesus said, Make the men sit down. Now there was much grass in the place. So the men sat down, in number about five thousand. And Jesus took the loaves; and when he had given thanks, he distributed to the disciples, and the disciples to them that were set down; and likewise of the fishes as much as they would. When they were filled, he said unto his disciples, Gather up the fragments that remain, that nothing be lost. Therefore they gathered them together, and filled twelve baskets with the fragments of the five barley loaves, which remained over and above unto them that had eaten. Then those men, when they had seen the miracle that Jesus did, said, This is of a truth that prophet that should come into the world.