Monday, November 6, 2023

Waiting In Wonder -Ideas For Observing and Celebrating Advent 2023
- Stir Up Sunday / First Sunday of Advent


Beginning today, and on each Monday between now and December 3, I will be posting ideas for observing and celebrating the lovely season of Advent. Derived primarily from my archives and with some updated, ideas, recipes and resources, these posts will provide you with everything you need to observe and celebrate this lovely season as await with wonder for the arrival of our Lord and Savior. So whether you are familiar with  The Liturgical Year, or if this is all new to you, I pray that these simple devotionals, recipes and crafts will deepen your understand and love for this most beautiful of seasons, of which Advent is but the beginning!

Sunday, November 26, 2023

Stir up our hearts, O Lord, to make ready the way of thine only begotten Son, 
 so that by His coming we may be enabled to serve Thee with pure minds. 


The last Sunday before Advent is Stir Up Sunday, the day when, traditionally, families gather together to prepare the Christmas pudding.

The day does not actually get its name from “stirring the pudding”; it gets its name from the Book of Common Prayer. The Collect of the Day for the last Sunday before Advent reads, “Stir up, we beseech thee, O Lord, the wills of the faithful people.” However, since Victorian times is has become associated with the rather lovely custom of preparing for Christmas together by making the Christmas pudding, which was an essential part of most British Christmas dinners.

The Christmas pudding as we know it is said to have been introduced to Britain by Prince Albert, consort of Queen Victoria, however it is thought that a version of the pudding was actually introduced from Germany by George I, sometimes known as “the pudding king”, in 1714.

The pudding is typically prepared well in advance, 5 weeks before Christmas, and then reheated and lit on Christmas Day itself. 

Most puddings will contain dried fruit, prunes and dates (often soaked in brandy), candied peel, mixed spice, treacle, suet, eggs, breadcrumbs and dark brown sugar. Traditionally there would be 13 ingredients in all, to represent Jesus and his disciples. Most families have a favorite recipe that is often handed down over the generations. Sometimes silver coins are added to mixture, and anyone who finds one when eating the pudding is said to receive health, wealth and happiness in the coming year.

On Stir Up Sunday, families gather together to mix the pudding. Each member of the family takes a turn in stirring the mixture whilst making a wish. The pudding is stirred from east to west, in honour of the Magi (Wise Men) who came from the east to visit the baby Jesus. It’s also a good time to enjoy a cup of festive mulled wine or cider.

On Christmas Day the pudding has its own ritual. It is topped with a sprig of holly to represent Jesus’ crown of thorns. A little warm brandy is then carefully poured over it and lit. It is then carried proudly, alight and flaming to the table to be served with brandy butter and cream or hot custard. 

If the thought of a flaming pudding is bit overwhelming, you can easily opt to make a cake instead, and lighting it up with candles is a perfectly suitable alternative to flaming liquor. The only drawback to making a cake instead of pudding, is that a cake won’t last until Christmas day and taste very good. But if you want to celebrate Stir Up Sunday with your family, consider making this the day you all get together to decorate the tree, and wouldn’t it be festive to serve a nice pot of your family’s favorite soup for dinner and this lovely cake for dessert?

Orange Cardomom Bundt Cake

For the cake;
Cooking spray
3 cups plus 1 tablespoon all purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
2 teaspoons ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/3 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup fresh orange juice
2/3 cup vegetable oil
1 tablespoon grated orange rind
2 teaspoons grated lemon rind
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 large eggs

For the glaze;
1 cup powdered sugar
4 1/2 teaspoons orange juce
1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

Sliced Oranges
Star Anise

Preheat oven to 350.

To prepare care, coat bundt pan with cooking spray; dust with 1 tablespoon flour. Set aside.

Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, cardamom, cinnamon and salt in a large bowl. Make a well in the center of the mixture. Add 1/4 cup of orange juice, vegetable oil, grated orange rind, grated lemon rind, vanilla and eggs to flour mixture; beat with a mixer until well combined, occasionally scraping sides of bowl.

Spoon batter into prepared cake pan, spreading evenly. Bake at 350 for 50 to 55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in the pan for 5 minutes on a wire rack. Remove from pan.
To prepare glaze, combine 1 cup of powdered sugar, 4 1/2 teaspoons orange juice, and lemon juice in a small bowl, stirring well with a whisk. Drizzle glaze over warm cake; and decorate with orange slices, cranberries and star anise. Cool cake completely on wire rack.  Insert candles and light it up!

The Season of Advent, which is the first in the The Liturgical Year, begins on the last Sunday of the month. Advent, and The Liturgical Year, or as I like to refer to it, The Year of the Lord, are precious to me and something I have observed individually and with my family for over a decade. Though I was not raised with the knowledge of The Liturgical Year, discovering it and incorporating it into my own faith has transformed my life. I'll share more about that in future posts, but for now I wanted to let you know about another series of posts I'll be writing and sharing every week of November, probably on Wednesday though this week I'm a day late.

Sunday, December 3, 2023

An expected silence, a hushed anticipation
as if the very galaxy is holding its breath.

There are some truths even the stars know,
like darkness, like loneliness,
And how the nights can be a living thing.

And how once, long ago,
the night waited in wonder
along with the darkness and the loneliness,
for the sound of a baby’s cry.

For the miraculous to come down
to the earth mundane.


Missa Ad Te Levavi
Listen here.

Introit: To you, my God, I lift my soul, I trust in you; let me never come to shame. Do not let my enemies laugh at me. No one who waits for you is ever put to shame.

- Psalm 25:1-3 (Roman Missal)

Ad te levavi animam meam: Deus meus in te confido, non erubescam: necque irrideant me inimici mei: etenim universi qui te exspectant, non confundentur.

Ps. Vias tuas, Domine, demonstra mihi: et semitas tuas edoce me.(Graduale Romanum).

First Sunday of Advent Readings:

Isaiah 9:2, 6–7
“The people walking in darkness
    have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of deep darkness
    a light has dawned.
For to us a child is born,
    to us a son is given,
    and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
    Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
    Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the greatness of his government and peace
    there will be no end.
He will reign on David’s throne
    and over his kingdom,
establishing and upholding it
    with justice and righteousness
    from that time on and forever.
The zeal of the Lord Almighty
    will accomplish this.” (NIV)

Following the scripture reading, one of the children lights the first candle, The Candle of Hope, and reads the bible verse and the leads everyone in reading the poem together.

We can have hope because God is faithful and will keep the promises he made to us. Our hope comes from God.
- Romans 15:12-13

Light the advent candle one, 

now the waiting has begun.

We have started on our way,

time to think of Christmas Day.

Candle, candle burning bright,

shining in the cold winter night.

Candle, candle burning bright,
fill our hearts with Christmas light.

Come Thou Long Expected Jesus (Full Choir and very beautiful)
Come Thoug Long Expected Jesus (Sung by Meredith Andrews, and perhaps easier to learn by listening to this version if ou want to sing along)

Click on image to enlarge, right click and save to your computer.

Oranges, a fruit once reserved for those with a high social status, has long been a symbol of prosperity. And with its bright golden skin, has likewise been symbolic of the sun and the light. Shopkeepers in mid evil times would place them decoratively in windows in the dark winer months, a reminder that the light and warmth would soon return.

So when we read in Isaiah of "the people in darkness have seen a great light", and that "He will reign over David's throne", it is fitting then that the orange in this craft is symbolic of Christ himself, the cranberries with their deep red hue, foretelling the blood that He would shed for the forgiveness of our sins.

As we make and look upon this garland, it serves as a constant reminder of Christ our King and His great love and sacrifice for us.

4-5 oranges
1 bag of fresh cranberries (12 oz)
Bakers twine or Jute Twine
Cookie sheet
Parchment paper or silicone baking mat

Drying the Oranges:
Parchment Paper
Cookie Sheet
Start by preheating your oven to 220 degrees and slice your oranges about 1/2 inch thick.
Place the oranges onto parchment paper or a silicone mat on a baking sheet and bake in the oven for 3 hours.
Check every hour to make sure they aren’t turning brown. They are done when they are dried and translucent in color.
Remove from the oven and let cool to room temperature.

Drying the Cranberries:
Parchment Paper
Cookie Sheet

Put a large pot on the stove with enough water to cover the cranberries. Bring the water to a boil. Put the washed cranberries in a bowl. Then pour the boiling water over the cranberries. Leave the bowl in a safe place, and let the cranberries sit. You will hear the skins pops, don’t leave the berries in the water for more than 5 to 10 minutes, the berries will then be ready.

Drain the water and spread the cranberries in a single layer on a cookie sheet. Then put them in the freezer for two hours. The freezing process helps the berries dry faster.

Remove the cranberries from the freezer and place them on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Turn on your oven to the lowest possible temperature. Put your cranberries in the oven and allow them to dry which can take 5 to 7 hours. Take the time to turn them every 30 minutes to help the drying process. There will be some that get a little darker than others and some that you will have to pull apart after they dry.

For the Garland

4-5 oranges sliced 1/2 inch thick
1 12 oz bag cranberries

Slice the oranges into 1/2 inch slices and lay on parchment paper on a baking sheet. Bake at 220 degrees for 3 hours. Check every hour to make sure they aren't turning brown. They oranges are done once they are dry and translucent in color.
 Let the oranges cool to room temperature.

Thread your needle with bakers twine or jute twine and thread through the top part of the orange then thread in your cranberries. You can string them in any pattern you desire. I typically string 4-6 cranberries to one orange, but feel free to use any pattern you like. You can make the length as long or short as you desire and depending on how you plan to use it. For a mantel, draped over. winter, or as a garland for a larger tree, you would obviously need longer strands.

Other variations on this theme include adding popcorn to the strand, the white kernels symbolic of purity and the washing away of our sins by the blood of Christ.  You can add them to the oranges and cranberries, or make a cranberry and popcorn garland.

There are a number of ways to use oranges and cranberries in your observance this week, you could also try one of these ideas.

- Make orange bird seed ornaments and hang from the trees outside.
- Or these lovely citrus candles, inspired by my friend, Dawn.
- This cranberry, orange and clove stovetop potpourri is sure to leave your house smelling cozy and welcoming!
- And finally, why not make a loaf of this cranberry orange pound cake or a batch of these white chocolate cranberry orange cookies and shed the light of Christ's love by presenting to a friend or relative this week.

Another idea that is symbolic of the light, is to make a jar lantern, or in this case, Advent lanterns.  By simply covering a glass jar with tissue paper, adding a few festive stickers and a handle, you can then insert an LED tea light and go for a walk around your neighborhood at dusk. Be sure to pray for each family as you pass by their house. This might even be a good time to share some of the baked goods mentioned above. You'll find something similar, here.

During Advent I often like to make special foods to share together after our evening candle lighting and devotionals. It would also be nice to have some fun refreshments to come home to after taking an Advent Lantern walk. These recipes are ones that we have enjoyed in years past. I made the Winter Lemonade for the first time last year and we will definitely be making it again!

1 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar
1 teaspoon orange juice 1 tablespoon orange zest
2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup dark chocolate, finely chopped
1/2 cup candied orange peel

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Prepare a baking sheet by lining it with a silicone liner or parchment paper.Set aside.

In a large bowl, use a hand-held mixer to cream together the butter and the sugar until light and fluffy.

Add the orange juice and orange zest.  Beat into the butter mixture.

Add the flour and salt.  Beat until just incorporated.

Add the chocolate and the candied orange peel.  Beat until just mixed through.

Divide the cookie dough into three equal portions.  Place two portions aside, and keep them covered they don’t dry out.

Lightly pat the cookie dough into a ball and place it between two sheets of parchment paper.  Using a rolling pin, roll the dough out to slightly less than 1/2 inch thick.

Cut rolled dough into rounds using a cookie cutter.  (I used a 1 1/2 inch round cookie cutter.)

Transfer to baking sheet, leaving 2 inches of space between each cookie.  Round up remaining dough and roll again until dough is used up.  Repeat with the other two portions of cookie dough.

Bake for 13 minutes.  Remove from oven and allow to cool on the baking sheet for 2 minutes.  Transfer to a wire cooling rack to finish cooling.

Before serving, grate some orange zest right over top and add a few curls of shaved dark chocolate.

1 and 1/4 cups all purpose flour 
1/4 cup + 2 Tablespoons Rodelle Dutch processed cocoa 
1/2 teaspoon baking soda 
1/4 teaspoon salt 
1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper 
3/4 teaspoon if you're feeling really spicy! (*NOTE - They get a little spicier after you make them!)
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon 
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg 
1/2 cup unsalted butter at room temperature 
1 cup granulated sugar 
1 large egg 
1 teaspoon vanilla extract 
4 ounces  Lindt Chili Chocolate Bar, chopped (or just any regular dark chocolate)
Cayenne Pepper - for sprinkling a bit of heat, if desired!

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa, baking soda, salt, cayenne pepper, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Set aside. 

In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy (approximately 2-3 minutes). Turn the mixer speed down to medium, add the egg and vanilla, and beat again until combined. 

With the mixer on low, slowly add flour mixture and beat until just combined. Add the chopped chocolate and continue mixing until evenly dispersed. Cover dough and refrigerate for at least 1 hour and up to 3 days. 

When you are ready to bake the cookies, line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Set aside. Preheat oven to 350ºF. 

Using a cookie scoop, roll the dough into balls and place on prepared baking sheet. Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until edges are set and center is no longer shiny. Remove from oven and allow to cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.  Sprinkle with a tiny bit of cayenne pepper for added heat, if desired.

1 cup fresh lemon juice
4 1/2 cups filtered water
1/2 cup honey
2 inches fresh ginger, unpeeled and coarsely chopped
5 whole cloves
2 cardamom pods
1 cinnamon stick

In a medium saucepan combine lemon juice, half of the water, honey, ginger, and spices.

Bring to a simmer, stir until honey is dissolved, and remove from heat.

Cover and allow to steep for 15 minutes.

Strain through a fine mesh strainer into a pitcher. Add the remaining water.

Refrigerate until chilled through. Serve over ice! Enjoy!

And now before I wrap this up, let me say this. There are daily readings for each day during the Advent season that spans this year from December 1 until Christmas Day. That being said, what I focus on primarily in these posts are the four Sundays leading up to Christmas Day. I will be doing daily readings during my quiet time each morning, but since there are so many different and wonderful versions and resources to choose from, I'll leave that to you. I have yet to decide on one for myself this year, so I need to make that decision soon. But, just in case you need some direction, here are a few that I have read in past years both on my own and with my girls that you might enjoy.


For Families
- The 25 Days of Christmas: A Family Devotional To Help You Celebrate Jesus
- The Way To The Manger: A Family Advent Devotional
- Unwrapping The Greatest Gift: A Family Celebration Of Christmas

For Personal Reflection
- Advent With St. Francis - St. Francis is one of my favorite Saints, and this books is a lovely read during this season.
- Advent and Christmas Wisdom From G. K. Chesterton
- Advent and Christmas Wisdom From Henry J. M. Nouwen
- Come Thou Long Expected Jesus: Experiencing The Peace and Promise of Christmas

And here are some other books, that while not necessarily daily readings, would be nice to read during the season.

- The Characters of Christmas: The Unlikely People Caught Up In The Story of Jesus
- Because of Bethlehem: Love is Born Hope Is Here by Max Lucado

Over the next few days I'll be posting links to additional resources than you could use in observing Advent. Until then, I hope you've enjoyed what I've compiled so far.  Advent is such a beautiful season, a means of slowing and bringing stillness to what has otherwise become the often chaotic spirit of Christmas. Observing this holy season has redeemed and restored Christmas for me, and I hope it all for you as well!

2 comments: said...

Thank you so much for sharing all of this lovely information of Advent. I've followed you for a few years and have enjoyed this.
Also, that paint by number winter barn scene is beautiful!!

Kimberly Lottman said...

Thank you, Melissa. I pray you'll be blessed! Also,I LOVE winter paint by numbers!