Stir (vb): Rise or wake from sleep; Begin or cause to begin to be active or to develop; Arouse strong feeling in (someone); Move or excite.
Today marks one of my favourite days of the year – Stir-up Sunday.
The name comes from the collect, or prayer, for this, the last Sunday before Advent in the traditional Anglican prayer book:
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
And for hundreds of years now, listening to this metaphorical call to stirring and bringing forth fruit, those members of the congregation responsible for Christmas preparations would inevitably remember that they needed to get cracking on the Christmas pudding, if it was to have time to mature before the big day. Gradually the language and the tradition fused together in a glorious muddle of spiritual metaphor and domestic reality.
The language may seem quaint today but the meaning behind it is as fresh and powerful as ever: there’s inspiration (the stirring from God in the Christian tradition), the active engaging of the will of the individual, the translating of that will into action (‘good works’), and the outcome of those works (the fruit and the reward).
Inspiration + will + purposeful action = fruitful outcome
It’s easy for us to shortcut straight to an outcome these days. Most of us buy our Christmas puds from Tesco, saving ourselves the hard work of mixing, stirring and steaming, not to mention the regular ‘feeding’ with alcohol. But if you want to create something meaningful and original, you need to get back to first principles.
Wherever you find your inspiration, however strong your will is right now, remember what you’re working for and stir yourself into purposeful action today.