Getting stirred up!
To begin to get ready' for Christmas by reflecting how to make a better world.
by The Revd Alan M. Barker
Suitable for Whole School (Pri)
To begin to 'get ready' for Christmas by reflecting how to make a better world. This assembly is designed for the week preceding Advent.
Preparation and materials
- Ask 10 children to help you.
- A large clear pyrex bowl and mixing spoon, and the following ingredients weighed into separate freezer bags: 3 oz plain flour; 3oz suet; 4oz dark brown sugar; ½ tsp baking powder with ½ tsp mixed spice; ½ oz flaked almonds; 4oz raisins; 4oz sultanas; 6oz currants; 2oz mixed peel; 2 medium eggs (best broken into a small storage container).
- The Collect (short prayer) for Stir-up Sunday on an OHP or flip-chart: 'Stir up, O Lord, the wills of your faithful people: that richly bearing the fruit of good works, they may by you be richly rewarded; through Jesus Christ our Lord.'
- Explain that the season of Advent begins on 2 December. It's a time to 'get ready' for Christmas. The Sunday before Advent (25 November) is traditionally known as 'Stir-up' Sunday. It's the time of year when Christmas puddings are made so that they have time to 'steep' (i.e. all the juices and flavours mix together and grow) before Christmas.
- Ask the children if they would like to make a pudding - here, now in assembly. Would they really? When the response is sufficiently enthusiastic, comment that the idea seems to have really got them stirred-up!
- Introduce the ingredients one by one, in the order that they are listed. Give one to each volunteer. There could be the opportunity to explore the different textures and aromas. Ask each helper first to add their ingredient to the bowl, and then to stir them together. While they are doing this invite them to close their eyes and secretly make a wish. Traditionally, all the members of a household would take a turn at stirring in order to do this.
- When the mixture is complete (adding the eggs often causes a stir!), explain that there is a special prayer associated with Stir-up Sunday. Display the prayer and point out that the words 'stir up', 'fruit', 'good' and 'richly' could refer to making a pudding. In fact, the prayer is about making the most of life. How ready (stirred-up) are we to take positive action to help everyone enjoy life more?
- Ask the children to suggest different positive actions ('good works') to 'enrich' the lives of others and make a better world, e.g. supporting the Blue Peter Christmas Appeal or the BBC Children in Need Appeal; befriending those who are new to the school; visiting elderly relatives; praying for peace; caring for the environment. The stirring spoon could be passed to individual children to hold as they make their suggestions.
- Sum up by reflecting that getting ready for Christmas isn't just a matter of preparing food. It's also important that we are stirred up and ready to act upon our deepest wishes and prayers for others. But note that the pudding mixture must now be steamed for at least 8 hours, and that in the same way many of the changes we long for may take time!
Time for reflection
Read together the Collect for Stir-up Sunday or use the following prayer:
we thank you for the excitement of starting to get ready for Christmas.
In all of our Advent preparations, stir up our imagination
and help us to be more ready to enrich the lives of others
and to make a better world.
'Christmas, Christmas' (Come and Praise, 122)