stir up, we beseech thee, o lord, the wills of the thy faithful people; that they, plenteously bringing forth the fruit of good works, may of thee be plenteously rewarded; though jesus christ our lord. amen
it's known as 'stir up sunday' because of this collect and traditionally it was the moment for stirring the christmas pudding. typical really that the adventure of advent, the stirring of the soul that is meant to happen, gets attached to the cultural christmas traditions of the time. it has always been the way i guess. nothing wrong with the traditions, but rather frustrating when the message of advent and christmas gets stirred in along with the fruit and the nuts rather than stirred up in order to change the world.
my own advent has been my first ordained one, so this is a post for my colleagues really..... there's a lot of pressure on new curates to either be terribly terribly busy for their first new christmas, to be either fatigued by carol service after carol service after nativity, or to be extra specially enjoying themselves. on facebook our new colleagues can be seen to be putting up statuses such as '3rd carol service today..phew!' (actually i think that was one of mine - i'm not immune ;P), or 'not enjoying christmas this year' or even 'everyone else is busy, but i'm not'
i suppose it is easy to forget our own discipleship in the constant and consistent 'holding' of others discipleship that comes with advent when you're ordained - especially when the adventure that is supposed to be engendered by the stirring up of the faithful at this time gets a little bit tinseled out by tradition.
but the adventure of advent might just still seep through - those of us who are ordained need to be disciplined in remembering that its not all about us, busy as we are, the church calendar rolls on and its a sad thing to miss it because we've become stirred up about the wrong things. our own calling was begun as an advent-ure - all of us will have had that moment of 'annunciation' where we had to say 'be it to me according to your word', and those excruciating moments of waiting, and now we're here, in ministry. the first big 'festival' of our faith is upon us and in some senses we can get carried along by the idea that this is our 'moment'. do not be fooled!
if your senses are telling you that you are not doing enough, then go away and pray, if you've found yourself in a spiral of busy-ness, then go away and pray.
God wants your attention, in the detail of service after service, of pastoral visit, of schools work, God wants your attention. it's so easy to become part of the tradition - person in a collar at the front, doing the stuff, at christmas. things need to get done, of course they do. but do not forget your advent, be stirred up in your soul, remember your first love and get on your knees.