God’s world needs a heavy dose of stirring up

hollis-for-hollistorial-adj-clippedby Hollis Hiscock

Stir Up Sunday was looked forward to with appealing delight by our Sunday School class.

Mostly because the collect was short and easy to remember; in the “good old days” we had to recite the weekly collect individually in front of our peers.

The words were often forgotten as the sun waned, yet we were expected to live out its message in our everyday encounters.

We followed the 1938 Canadian Anglican Book of Common Prayer (BCP). “If it was good enough for the first disciples it is good enough for me,” a staunch parishioner once reminded me.

Worldwide, people experience stir up moments leading to good works, some hoping to be “richly rewarded” by God and others for philanthropic reasons.

I recognized we were blessed to have the collect compatible with the church language of the mid-20th century.

Otherwise, the collect, as it appeared in the 1549 first English prayer book of Edward VI, would be almost impossible for preteens to master, namely:

“Stiere up we beseech thee, O Lord, the wylles of thy faythfull people, that they, plenteously bringing furth the fruite of good works; may of thee, be pleanteously rewarded; through Jesus Christ our Lorde.”

It did not include AMEN.

Surprisingly, the essence of the Stir Up collect has not changed or been weakened over its 468 year history, even though the original spelling and wording have not survived the test of the ages or tinkering by theologians and scholars. Interestingly, 17 extra words were added in the Book of Alternatives Services (BAS).

In the prayer, we worshippers beg God to STIR us up or SHAKE our foundations (Paul Tillich’s words) or WAKE us from the doldrums, so we can do good works in serving others.

In 2017 our motivation is to be “richly rewarded” by God, compared with the 1549 and 1962 expectation of being “plenteously rewarded.” Different?

“Location, location, location” was another adaptation. Since 1549 worshippers prayed the Stir Up collect on the last Sunday of the Church’s year (November or December). The next week, Advent Sunday, signalled a rallying appeal for Christians to pull up their socks and recommit themselves to worshipping God and helping people.

In our new BAS prayer book, now 32 years young, this collect landed in a new location. Now we request to be stirred up in early September, coinciding with young people returning to school and the rest of us, being shaken from our summer melancholies, to become engaged in a myriad of physical, mental and spiritual pursuits.

In the midst of endless start-ups, our faith psyche needs a mammoth flashing neon sign to attract our attention.

Stir up reminders work! Worldwide, people experience stir up moments leading to good works, some hoping to be “richly rewarded” by God and others for philanthropic reasons.

In every issue, the Niagara Anglican features their stories.

February is no exception.

  • This month, you will meet …
  • Elbert, challenging fellow parishioners to help the less fortunate;
  • Keith, pastoring to a family living through assisted dying;
  • Susan, learning about blanket exercises ;
  • Eleanor and Wayne, expressing their beliefs in words;
  • Aurora, wanting her photo with baby Jesus;
  • Dean, entering a new ministry;
  • Michael, engaging in a day to be remembered;
  • Gwen, portraying a Bible character during her parish’s 200th anniversary;
  • Sue, celebrating the 60th anniversary of the parish with a new name and location;
  • Michael, updating us about the importance of bikes to farm workers;
  • Nancy and Pam, welcoming people to their community meal;
  • And more stir up stories.

Now, it is your turn. Tell us your stir up story. Send it to Editor Hollis Hiscock