During the season of Advent, I am going to do something new on the blog. I am going to try my best to offer a daily reflection here as we journey through this season together. To help frame the devotions I have been using hashtags designed by a group with the Episcopalian church. For example, the hashtag assigned for today is #Stir.
“Not a creature was stirring not even a mouse…” When thinking about the word “stir,” this is probably the first image of that word that comes to mind this time of year. It certainly is for me. When you hear the story told “Twas the Night Before Christmas,” it has to put a smile on your face. My personal favorite version of the story is the way Robin Williams gave it life with the Boston Pops playing and adding in behind his narration.
Stepping back, when we think of the word “stir” more theologically, we’re thinking of ideas of moving or being moved or affected. For example think of the way we sometimes pray with a petition that might include, “stir our hearts.” Or, within the text of a hymn or worship song, consider, “Spirit of Gentleness.” In the refrain we sing, “Spirit, Spirit of gentleness, blow through the wilderness calling and free; Spirit, Spirit of restlessness, stir me from placidness, wind, wind on the sea.” In that song, we are singing and asking that we be moved by God and lead to follow and do what God would have us do at the Spirit’s leading.
As we think about the term “stir,” then during this season of Advent, I am wondering, how do we feel stirred this time of year? Have you felt yourself stirred recently? If so, to what or by what?
When I am stirred, I am restless. Some times that comes in the middle of the night when I have far too much on my mind. Sometimes it comes when I am wrestling with a question which I need to have a conversation with God about- not to solve or decide anything, but to recognize that there is work to be done but that work isn’t going to be well done by myself and with a lack of sleep.
In a worship related role, like one of the ones I am currently serving in, I am stirred by thoughts and visions of what Christmas Eve worship services might look and feel like. I wonder, how can I get out of the way to let the story be told and felt and experienced by people with different learning styles, experiences, or even by people who might be hearing the words of the Gospel for the first time?
These are all good questions and worthy ones I think to be stirred by. The bigger question that I am stirred by personally is, to what is God calling my wife and I? Our current ministry expressions or different ones? Where? When? Why? These are the sorts of questions that I wrestle with and am stirred by.
The challenge is not to let the stirring get in the way for the appreciation and gratitude for the present. These big questions won’t be answered overnight, and probably not in any quick timeframe. That’s the point of discernment. Perhaps in that case, being stirred is just a small but integral part in discerning a calling, or a response to question, challenge or issue. What do you think?