Sunday reflection

Reflection for Stir up Sunday.

“Stir up, we beseech thee, O Lord, the wills of thy faithful people.” The Collect or prayer for Stir up Sunday, which gives the day its name. 

The only dish the Chancellor was serving up was vast ladles of pain and misery, seasoned with generous sprinklings of doom and gloom.” Sketch writer Henry Deedes, of the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement.

Today is Stir Up Sunday, the start of the week before Advent, which later led to puddings being made in time to mature for Christmas with each family member stirring the mixture and making a wish. Various customs began to develop, such as the pud having thirteen ingredients to represent Jesus with his disciples and then being stirred from east to west in honour of the Wise Men who travelled in that direction to find the Christchild. It became part of the preparations for the Christmas celebration at a bleak and dark time of year. 

Originally the pudding was frumenty, a savoury type of pottage with grain, meat, dried fruit and spices. Later, it became more of a plum pudding and was banned as being too rich by the Puritans in England when they tried to do away with Christmas itself although this was reinstated by Charles II on his restoration in 1660. George I was said to have eaten a pudding at his first Christmas meal in England, becoming known as the ‘Pudding King’, and then Prince Albert made it fashionable in the Victorian additions which are so much part of Christmas today, with charms or coins being added to the mixture as tokens of good luck to come.  It was also served with a sprig of holly on top, originating from pagan times as a sign of fertility but later representing Jesus’ crown of thorns with flaming brandy marking the Passion. 

Nowadays, much of this has been forgotten and Christmas puddings are often bought rather than made at home, after which they would have been wrapped in a cloth and boiled for hours before being left to mature. This year, Stir Up Sunday may have a different significance with so much being stirred up by what’s happened since the new Prime Minister took office. Internationally and nationally, there was already disruption due to the war in Ukraine, the cost of living crisis, the increase in Covid cases and the loss of the late Queen. On top of all this, the severe fiscal policies announced since have been controversial and have stirred up further uncertainty and turmoil. What now lies ahead?

In the midst of it all, the collect for Stir Up Sunday this month reminds us that it originally asked for wills to be stirred up rather than puddings. If this present confusion leads to the will to make a difference for good when faced with such turmoil or shakes up what may have been taken for granted, then feeling mixed up about the situation may be part of this beginning to happen. So take heart from what evolved historically and remember as preparations are made at a bleak time of year for whatever lies ahead that at least Christmas hasn’t been banned. Yet!!

With my prayers; pob bendith,

Christine, Guardian.