One of the things I love about Advent are the propers for each Sunday: the “stir up” prayers. Do you know these? You’ll find them in Evangelical Lutheran Worship, pages 18-19. The first Sunday of Advent’s propers begin “Stir up your power, Lord Christ….” The second Sunday starts with “Stir up our hearts…” and the third Sunday with “Stir up the wills of your faithful people.” The final Sunday in Advent opens with the petition, “Stir up your power, Lord Christ, and come.”
An old friend from England once told me that on the “stir up” Sundays, it was a tradition for each member of the family to stir the pudding they would serve on Christmas. They would start making the pudding a month before the big holiday dinner so that the flavors would develop together. I couldn’t figure out how it wouldn’t go bad—a month?!-until I found out that the recipe called for a goodly amount of brandy. The pudding is almost more like a fruitcake; it’s full of raisins, currants, dried cherries and other fruit, sugar, almonds, nutmeg, cloves, and cinnamon. And, of course, the brandy.
Now when I hear the “stir up” prayers, I smile at the thought of families gathering together on the Sundays in Advent to prepare the Christmas pudding—each family member doing a little work to make something that they will share and enjoy together at their celebration of Jesus’ birthday.
In this country, many folks will gather to light their Advent candles on the Sundays in December. They will pray and prepare their hearts for the coming of God-with-Us, Emmanuel.
Do you have special traditions that make Advent meaningful for you and your family? In this busy season, how are you being “stirred up” to share the good news of God’s coming to us in Jesus?
Kate Elliott is editor of Gather magazine.