In the Church of England, “Stir Up” Sunday occurs on the last Sunday of the Liturgical Year, or what we once called the last Sunday after Trinity. It was based on the first words of the Collect offered for that Sunday and comes from the Latin excita. On the occasion, people would sometimes bring spoons and pots to church. In England, it was also the traditional time to prepare your Christmas puddings, which were best consumed after sitting for a few weeks. Four weeks before Christmas was an appropriate time, and the Collect served as a mnemonic reminder to those who wished to stir up those Christmas treats.
Prior to the 1979 book of common prayer, the Episcopal Church followed this pattern. However, in reconciling our lectionary with liturgical reforms of the time, the Last Sunday after Trinity became what some call Christ the King Sunday, and the stirring opening phrase was incorporated, instead, in the Collect for the third Sunday in Advent. This meant that with the introduction of the “New” Prayerbook, “Stir Up” Sunday was now observed on the Third Sunday of Advent. Not an appropriate time to set your Christmas puddings. Either way, however, it is a fitting reminder for the Season of Advent, a time when we anticipate, with hopeful expectation, the coming of Christ.
For me, to be stirred up is to let go of the calm complacency that hinders my action. As a beer brewer hobbyist, to promote fermentation, you must stir in some oxygen before pouring the yeast into the wort. With a big wire whisk, I froth up the wort, stirring for at least a minute, providing the necessary oxygen for the yeast to do its work. Perhaps we, too, need to be frothed up so that we can attend to the work God has before us.
Stir up your power, O Lord, and with great might come among us; and, because we are sorely hindered by our sins, let your bountiful grace and mercy speedily help and deliver us; through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom, with you and the Holy Spirit, be honor and glory, now and for ever. Amen.