Reflection for Stir Up Sunday.
“My kingdom is not from this world.” Jesus, in today’s Gospel John 18:33-37.
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. Collect, 1549 Book of Common Prayer.
It’s Stir Up Sunday today, the last Sunday before Advent and the end of Year B in the lectionary of readings before Year C begins next week. The day takes its title from the original collect and its opening words in preparation for Advent meant that it also became the traditional time for the making of Christmas puddings and for a silent wish to be made by those stirring the mixture.
As it’s approaching the penitential season of Advent at a wintry time of endings as well as beginnings, this Sunday can stir up many mixed emotions in us and we may find our wishes and hopes negated despite good intent. More recently, this Sunday has also become the feast of Christ the King who, in appearing before Pilate after his arrest, said that his kingdom is not of this world. Nevertheless, Jesus subjected himself to the worldly demands being made of him as he was enthroned on the wood of the cross with a crown of thorns. The servant king confronted earthly power and called his followers to serve others too – two thousand years later, the struggle between power and authority, peace and service continues.
Brochwel, Prince of Powys, was very much part of a kingly family when he encountered Melangell as she gave shelter to a hare being chased by his hounds. In refusing to hand over the scared creature, Melangell was clearly unwilling to accept his authority as was customary in those days and put herself in a position of possible danger when she refused. Brochwel, however, did not exercise his customary rights and power and, generously, gave her part of the valley for an abbey to be built, of which she became abbess. Their encounter enabled them both to bring out the best in each other and, as we continue to face the many consequences being stirred up by confrontations and power struggles in so many places, may their example hearten us.
Wesley’s hymn, O thou who camest from above, asks Jesus to ‘still stir up the gift in me’ and this Stir Up Sunday, if we’re feeling a bit mixed up about the way the world is, that may be appropriate. In following the footsteps of the Servant King, if we truly are to stir up the fruits of the Spirit as well as the pudding this Stir Up Sunday, what would your silent but prayerful wish be today?
With my prayers; pob bendith,