Lucy Jane, my youngest, has always loved the color purple. As a child, she would always choose the purple item or cloth over any other color. Her room was filled with purple, her clothes were purple—in our house, purple was literally everywhere.
In Jesus’ time, purple was not a common color. The dye to make purple garments took a lot of labor and time to acquire and use, so only the very rich and the royal wore garments of purple. Jesus himself only wore purple once in the Bible, and it was when the soldiers robed him up, placed a crown on his head, and mocked him as “king.” I doubt, knowing his teachings and way of life, that he ever wore purple before. I believe that is why the gospel writers describe the color of the robe in the first place.
During the season of Lent, we remember Jesus’ journey to the cross in our liturgy, our music and yes in our color. We remember his suffering each time we recite the Creed. Lent is a somber time to reflect on the stories of Jesus and to also discern our own faith journeys. It is a time in the wilderness, a time of great challenge. Over the generations of “church,” purple has become the color to symbolize all of these things. I am glad we use blue in Advent, because it makes our purple more special and more tied to Lenten themes.
In our sanctuary, you may have noticed that we have added more purple to our chancel area. Our font is covered, since we will not have baptisms during Lent, and our processional cross and Paschal candle are also covered until their next use on Easter morning. But, notice that the purple is transparent—on purpose! Why? Because we know what we know. The wilderness of Lent may be hard, but Easter is coming. Easter is ALWAYS coming. Easter is the end of one story and the launch of another.
I don’t know about you, but I can handle pretty much anything knowing what is coming. I can walk through any symbolic fire knowing the endgame. Lent forces me to slow down and remember the strength that I have deep within. Lent reminds me of Jesus and the strength he showed for us all. And the color purple? It reminds me that the soldiers were wrong—Jesus was not just the King of the Jews. He was King of us all. And knowing this, there is nothing we cannot get through. Nothing at all. This life is but a veil, and we can see through it.
I pray you find comfort as you walk through your wildernesses. I pray you find strength in knowing you are not alone. I pray that in Lent, you remember Easter.