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The Seed Disperser - November 2022
This month's feature - Stir it up Sunday
What’s in this month’s Seed Disperser
Book of the month
25 Stockings to Christmas
Inspiration this month
Stir it up Sunday
Counting Down to Christmas A Pinch of Spice
Twelve Days of Christmas
Bundles price drop
Church of the month
Seeking stories for our Church of the month
On a personal note
Christmas cakes and puddings
Book of the month
25 Stockings to Christmas was the first book we published when we started Kererū Publishing in 2013. It’s origin occurred years earlier. Caroline made a string of 25 stockings as a Christmas decoration in 1986, and then in 1997 she wrote an accompanying booklet to go with the stockings. The idea at the time was that there’d be a smorgasbord of things to choose from each day so the book could be used and reused over the years, bringing a freshness to each new Advent. Our youngest two children particularly enjoyed listening to the Bible story each day and trying to guess the answers to three questions. 25 years on from that first manuscript, and 11 years since official publication it’s still our most successful title.
Use the code 25ST to receive a 10% discount
Inspiration this month - Stir it up Sunday
Our subscribers from the UK, and perhaps those who have an Anglican or Catholic tradition may be familiar with Stir it up Sunday, but this is something we’ve only recently discovered. The Sunday before Advent is also known as Stir it up Sunday. It’s name comes from the Book of Common Prayer, and possibly dates back to 1549. The words of the Collect said,
"Stir up, we beseech thee, O Lord, the wills of thy faithful people"
As traditions go, somewhere along the way, the metaphor of stirring up the Christmas pudding or Christmas cake became a timely fit for the Sunday before Advent, inspired by the ‘stir up’ from the Collect. This delightful play on words means generations of families, particularly in the UK, have stirred their Christmas pudding and/or Christmas cake in readiness for Christmas on this day every year
Here’s a few ideas bringing our own take to celebrating Stir it up Sunday
What an interesting word with so many different meanings, evoking actions, thoughts and feelings. The Collins online dictionary lists eight definitions of the word ‘stir’.
Stir the pudding
Anyone who has used an implement like a wooden spoon to move liquid or ingredients around a pot knows what it feels like to stir. This requires action, and it’s often quite physical. You can feel it in your hand, wrist, elbow, upper arm and shoulder. Stir something long enough and it becomes a whole body feeling.
Why not use Stir it up Sunday to make a Christmas pudding or Christmas cake. If you’re not a big fan of either, maybe there are neighbours or elderly relations who would love to receive a chunk of your cake or pudding. In our last section of this month’s Seed Disperser we have two recipes that have been handed down in our families for making Christmas cake and Christmas pudding.
Stir the cake or cookies
If you don’t like the traditional fruity and spicy Christmas cake, but you enjoy baking why not stir some other ingredents together this Stir it up Sunday. Bake something like gingerbread cookies or other Christmas flavours. Give your baked goods away to friends, family, neighbours or strangers.
Stir as movement
We stir when we wake up every day. The stirring occurs in the shift from dead sleep to being wide awake. Most people stir before opening their eyes or being aware of waking. This slight movement is a physical shift in our body, not propelled by thought, but by a natural rhythm in our sleep cycle. We also stir our bodies when we feel uncomfortable.
We can use Stir it up Sunday as a day to intentionally move. Taking it literally, maybe we can stir ourselves to go for a walk or a run or a cycle. Turn the movement into a walk and talk with God.
We can also intentionally move in our thinking. Perhaps there’s been the stirring of a small thought or idea, a little niggle bothering us. Maybe there’s some issue or relationship problem that is making us just a tiny bit uncomfortable. What happens if we give this to God in prayer and take time on Stir it up Sunday to open ourselves up to the stirring of this thought or idea.
According to the Collins online dictonary stirring is the response of enthusiasm and excitement to a performance, speech, event or account.
In the age of media we have many choices when it comes to watching something on our devices that evokes a response of enthusiasm or stirring. Take some time before Stir it up Sunday to think what music, movies, speeches or books stir you and try to include adding some stirring media consumption into your Stir it up Sunday.
Crank up the volume and sing along to a rousing hymn, carol or other song. Find an old favourite on YouTube Music or Spotify. If you’re leading worship in a church setting select a rousing song and draw attention to Stir it up Sunday.
Notice: What is happening in my body as I sing?
Ask yourself: Why do I feel a stirring of excitement when I listen or sing this song?
Respond in prayer to God.
Here’s Whakaaria Mai (How Great Thou Art) sung by Hollie Smith, Teeks and the Auckland Gospel Choir in 2019
According to the Collins online dictionary in Australian and New Zealand informal English, a stirrer is someone who is a political activitist or agitator.
Jesus was a stirrer. He agitated for change and his words inspire us to embrace the same agititation. Jesus challenged the status quo, he fought for the underdog, he cared for the poor, oppressed and marginalised. He turned things upside down. As we near the celebration of the birth of Jesus, how timely to celebrate Stir it up Sunday by activitely doing something to support, defend or help those who are struggling.
This Christmas as inflation affects people all over the globe, how can we do our bit to look after the poor around us?
Find local charities to support with goods or your time
Here’s a few that sparked our imagination. We recommend researching local opportunities near you that support those who are struggling this Christmas. Why not use Stir it up Sunday to go shopping or making or finding somewhere to volunteer your services..
Christmas Joy Store - is a social toy store in Auckland, where parents and caregivers can select gifts off the shelves themselves to give to their children.
I Got Your Back - is across New Zealand and Australia. Backpacks are made up for those who escape domestic violence, often arriving at a refuge with nothing but the clothes they are wearing.
Love Soup - this is our local food rescue organisation providing community meals and delivering boxes of groceries to those in need. They work locally in Whangaparāoa and are also operating in a few other locations around the North Island. There are now many food rescue organisations all over Aotearoa.
Christmas Box - operating in New Zealand, Australia and the Cook Islands, Christmas Box provides food and hope at Christmas. Register interest for helping at packing week or donate to fill a box.
Research and advocate to support those marginalised
Why not take some time on Stir it up Sunday to research more about a cause that interests you. Put that interest into action. Sign a petition, write a letter to your local MP, send an email of encouragement, find out other ways you can advocate.
Upside-down pudding prayer
Making your own Christmas cake or Christmas pudding might not be for you, but why not enjoy one of the self-saucing puddings made by companies like Aunt Betty’s. Pray this prayer from Caroline’s book 5 Senses to Prayer - A Collection of Experiential Prayers - Book One
Upside-Down Steamed Pudding Prayer
When things seem impossible and nothing is going in the right direction in a certain situation, it calls for an upside-down prayer. We need God’s involvement to up-end the situation. To turn it upside down and make it better. Think of a situation or situations where this kind of prayer would be helpful. Heat a mini steamed pudding in the microwave. As it’s heating, pray about the situations that need turning on their head and changing direction. Serve your pudding by putting it on plate upside down and watching as the sauce drips over it. Eat it, giving thanks to God for the times when God has up-ended things for you.
© Caroline Bindon 5 Senses to Prayer - A Collection of Experiential Prayers - Book One
Counting Down to Christmas A Pinch of Spice
This year our Counting Down to Christmas starts on 26 November and goes through until 26 December. Every day a short daily email will arrive into inboxes at 5am NZT. To see a sample of the contents of the daily email you can view it in this post.
You don’t need to have access to spices to participate. While the theme picks up a pinch of spice, it’s completely optional to include the experiential component of smelling or tasting a spice each day. The focus of the daily email invites us to draw closer to God as we draw closer to Christmas, the celebration of God with us. In the busy time leading up to Christmas the email invites a few minutes of attention.
Grab a few friends or talk to your housemates and sign up as a group. If you’re in a group like a church, there’s time to ask around and sign up a large group. Subscription is easy with two simple ways to add subscriber details by using an online form or pre-filling an excel spreadsheet.
If you did want to purchase a kit and you live in New Zealand, we do still have a handful of Pinch of Spice kits available with deliveries starting this week. There may be some available for pick up or local delivery right up until 26 November but when our stock runs out we won’t be making up any more kits.
Counting Down to Christmas is also included in our Kereru Bundles so if you’re already subscribed to any of our three Kereru Bundles you’ll receive the daily emails to Counting Down to Christmas.
Special offer - Twelve Days of Christmas
Last year we included Twelve Days of Christmas as a free add-on to our Counting Down to Christmas. We published it as an ebook and have made it a permanent part of our collection.
Beginning on Christmas Day and going through until Epiphany, there’s daily ideas for personal use. There’s plenty of inspiration for group settings too. A full worship experience suitable for at home use on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day is included complete with Nativity Play and printables.
Make use of our 50% discount offer by clicking this link or the button below or using the code TDC in the checkout. Offer available until 26 December 2022
For individual use - with discount $10 (NZD)
Group distribution licence 50 copies - with discount $25 (NZD)
Advent marks the start of the new Lectionary year. We have the LECTIONARY & CALENDAR 2021-2022 YEAR A - MATTHEW available on our website for free download. Read more about it or download it. You may also be interested in our weekly lectionary resource Taking Flight.
Our online store now has the ability to redeem multiple discount codes. We currently have the following discounts active that can be combined.
CHRWMG - 5% off Who Made God & other tricky questions - Ends 16/11
CASPAR - 10% off Church Invisible - Ends 30/11
25ST - 10% off 25 Stockings to Christmas - Ends 30/11
TDC - 50% off Twelve Days of Christmas - Ends 26/12
Bundles price drop
We’ve dropped the prices of each of our Kererū Bundles. We know times are hard and small churches are struggling. Our bundles group subscriptions together which reduces admin time and saves money over the year. Read more about our Kererū Bundles on our website. If you subscribe an individual or group before the 26 November you’ll receive Counting Down to Christmas.
Church of the month
Trinity @ Waiake is a Methodist Church on Auckland’s North Shore. Over the past 3 months, under the leadership of Rev Abhishek Solomon they have been examining “Great Minds.” Starting with Plato they have worked their way through medieval and modern thinkers. In the words of Abhishek, “most importantly learning about the past promotes a healthy humility. We learn that great thinkers have made great mistakes and that our understanding of Christianity and the Bible is result of over two thousand years of thoughts of others. We realize that our beliefs are not born in a vacuum, but we modern Christians stand on the shoulders of our ancestors who dared to follow Christ, often at great price. And when we hear their story, we encounter our own journey in a fresh way. Our spiritual life is an ever-unfolding story of faith.”
We’re currently seeking stories for our Church of the month section throughout 2023. Stories may be about a particular event or programme or the work of a person or a group in the church. We’d love to hear from you if you think your church does something that others would enjoy reading about.
On a personal note
Christmas cakes and Christmas puddings
In the early years of our married life there was something of a battle of the Christmas puddings. Nana Gamman always brought her classic Christmas pudding and Caroline’s grandparents also brought theirs to Christmas day. Fortunately, we liked Christmas pudding and enjoyed both! Sometimes one of Nana Gamman’s grandchildren will offer to make the Christmas pudding using her recipe, and it’s a nice feeling to have a reminder of her presence on Christmas day.
Caroline’s grandparents were caterers and in their retirement years were often called upon to make wedding, christening, anniversary and Christmas cakes for friends and family and acquaintances. They’d start production on Christmas puddings in July, such was the demand. They’d fiill their freezer with the puddings that would be given away at Christmas. The Christmas cakes would be wrapped in brown paper and tinfoil weeks before Christmas. By the time Stir it up Sunday arrived they’d already have a dozen or more cakes ready for Christmas.
When we were first engaged and broke the news to Caroline’s grandparents, Nana Mona jumped out of her chair, went straight to get an apron and her first words were to ask Andrew, “Do you want a 1, a 1-2, or a 1-2-3?” Andrew was completely confused by this response and had no idea that she was referring to the number of tiers for the wedding cake. Nevertheless he opted for the 1-2-3. She was underway getting ready to make our wedding cake before we’d got out the door.
Nana Gamman’s recipe for Christmas pudding
250g raisins, sultanas & currants
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ginger
1 cup brown sugar
60g lemon peel
1 cup fresh breadcrumbs
1 cup flour
1/2 cup milk
Grated lemon rind
2-3 Tablespoons brandy
Add nuts and cherries if you’d like
Stir all dry ingredients together. Mix with eggs, milk & brandy.
Boil 3 hours
Nana Mona & Grandad Ted’s recipe for Christmas cake
120g glace cherries
120g mixed peel
1/2 cup rum, brandy or sherry
1 1/2 cups brown sugar firmly packed
1 teaspoon grated orange rind
1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
2 Tablespoons marmalade
2 1/2 cups plain flour
1 teaspoon mixed spice
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
Pinch of salt
Recipe for a 23 cm round or 20 cm square cake tin.
Chop all fruit the same size as a sultana and place in large basin. Pour rum, brandy or sherry over fruit and cover. Leave to stand overnight.
Cream butter until soft, add brown sugar, beat until just combined; add orange and lemon rind. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add marmalade into creamed mixture.
Alternate adding fruit mixture and dry ingredients mixing thoroughly after each addtition.
Place mixture into prepared tin and bake in 150 deg Celsius oven for 3 - 3 1/2 hours.
Cakes should be made 3 - 4 weeks ahead of the time you intend to decorate.
Store wrapped in brown paper and tinfoil or in an airtight container
On the journey
Andrew and Caroline