Today is the first Sunday of Advent, and you can see the difference for yourselves, whether you join us online or in-person. Our blue paraments (our worship linens and cloths) are blue, our Advent Wreath is up, and all around the church—we’ve made the switch to the season. You may have even glimpsed my personal Christmas tree in my office, too. (If you haven’t, drive by at night! 🙂
Advent is from a Latin word which means “coming.” During Advent, we wait not just for Christmas which celebrates Jesus’ arrival and birth, but we wait for his second coming, when God’s kingdom on earth is fully realized.
Many of you may recall purple as the season’s color, with a bit of pink thrown in. So why blue? Is this new? Not really. The Swedish Church has used blue for centuries as well as parts of Spain as early as the eighth century. There is strong evidence of Western churches using blue and sometimes even black in the 12-14th centuries.
More recently, the need to differentiate the seasons of Advent and Lent has been discussed. Using the same colors as Lent can be confusing. Lent, a time of repentance before Easter, uses purple as the color for royalty, penitence and fasting. Blue is a color suited for royalty, but it is also for hope. In Advent, we are waiting for Christ, but we are more hopeful. The old Green Hymnal, remember that one?, recommended using blue over purple in 1978—but many churches did not change immediately for a variety of reasons. My old church, it was because of finances. We had nice purple paraments—why not use them?
I am partial to the blue because it is a visual difference between Advent and Lent. I don’t know about you, but I need hope in the typically darker days of Advent. I need hope that Christ’s presence in this world will grow, and his light will overcome all darkness. This Advent season, our theme will be the different kinds of Hope we have—for ourselves, for our communities and for our church. I pray that you join us as much as you can these next 4 weeks. I pray that you find hope when and where you need it the most.
Blessings, peace and hope,