One of the lovely things about a liturgical church like The Episcopal Church is the richness of our traditions. It is not necessary to have an Advent Wreath in the church during the season of Advent but it is a rich, pleasant, and lovely thing to have in place as a reminder of the darkening days outside as the church gets brighter inside. One of our traditions is that we open our worship with the Collect of the Day, a prayer that collects our thoughts as we enter into the movement that is our liturgy. There is a proper collect for each Sunday, each feast day, and a variety of other things.
The Collect for the Third Sunday of Advent begins, “Stir up your power O Lord and with great might come among us…” That prayer has been in place for centuries. Coincidentally, since Advent 3 is usually ten or so days from Christmas, in England it was the weekend on which the plum puddings were prepared—stirred up—so that they had an opportunity to, well, ferment for at least a week. Somebody noticed a connection, and Stir Up Sunday was born.
This coming Sunday, Advent 3, we will observe Stir Up Sunday with homiletical nod to English cuisine (not necessarily a contradiction in terms) as we continue to get ready for Christmas.
Note that the Fourth Sunday of Advent at St. Mary's Church is also the greening of the church—we hang the greens and set the flowers and candles in preparation for our Christmas worship. Our time of fellowship following the service will take place in the church as we work together to beautify our worship space.