Yesterday at the Church of the Good Shepherd Murrayfield, we celebrated the feast of Christ the King; the last Sunday of the Church's year before we jump into the new year that begins on Advent Sunday next week. Below is an extract from my sermon, in which I try to relate Christ as our King with the old collect for this day known as 'Stir Up' Sunday:
Until the recent revisions of the lectionary (the readings we use each week) and the Sunday collects, about 20 years ago now; today was universally known as ‘Stir Up Sunday’. It took its name from the opening words for the collect for the Sunday next to Advent, or that last Sunday in the Church’s year. The collect reads:
“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.”
Many people and not just church goers were annually prompted by this collect to make their Christmas puddings for the coming festival, if not for the following year as well. For as we all know a good Christmas pudding needs a good long time to mature before eating. Nowadays the ‘Stir up’ collect has been moved to September or is used today as a post communion prayer - almost an afterthought. Personally, I think it is a great pity that this collect is not used in its rightful place alongside the collect for the festival we now celebrate today, that of Christ the King. Why? Because I believe that its words serve as a good wake up call to all of us before Advent and the start of a new church year...
The ‘Stir up’ sentiments or challenge were good for us to hear at this point of the year as it served as a tonic or a boost in order to help us ready ourselves for the new church year. Today, is an opportunity for us to have a spiritual clear out, for us to let go of anything that tends to pull us down or that gets in the way of our relationship with God. This wake up call helps us enter Advent with a spring in our step.
Today, however, is not just about ‘stirring our selves up’ it is also about Christ our King. Putting the two together, I think, reminds us that Jesus was sent to stir us up. Jesus was born to challenge us all to look at ourselves and our relationships with God. No one who has heard Jesus’ words can fail to not be affected by them as they challenge us too much to ignore them. we can accept Jesus’ words or reject them but non one can ignore what he has to say. What does he say to us today?
Do you follow my ways?
Do you reach out in love and charity to others?
Do you really repent of your sins?
These are just some of the questions he asks us but the ultimate one is:
Who do you say or think that I am?
How do you respond?
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