In Living Color - Rev. Scott Dickison
One of my favorite parts about the Advent and Christmas season is all the color around the church, but particularly in the sanctuary. You don’t have to watch the Home and Garden network for long to learn that a little color can go a long way toward brightening up a space and making it feel more livable, but in the church we take this a step further.
In church, these colors do more than make brighten our building (or even our spirits). In church all of these different colors mean something, and more than just making our church feel more “livable,” they even help us remember how we are called to live—or even remember those things that give us life.
For instance, the primary color for this season of Advent, as you may know, is purple (or violet, to be more specific). In the Christian tradition, purple is the color of penitence and mourning and is used primarily during Advent and Lent. Now, mourning is probably not instinctively the word most of us would use to describe how we experience this season. It’s certainly not the emotion the retailers and voices outside the church promote. But within the church, Advent is to be a time of preparation and a time when, like Mary, we are called to ponder the coming of Jesus “in our hearts.”
But it is also important for us to remember that this season is very often tender for those among us who are grieving or experiencing loss. For many, the color of mourning is all too appropriate. So many memories are made during this time of year, and at times they can be difficult to bear alone, no matter how special.
While we hope to honor these voices throughout this season and beyond, this Sunday evening we will gather with the special purpose of holding this tenderness up to the light of the Advent candles in our annual Service for Grieving Persons.
This candlelit service featuring contemplative music, words from Scripture, prayer and a brief message has become an essential part of our annual Advent observance. It may be even more appropriate that we gather for this service on the Third Sunday of Advent, traditionally celebrated as the Sunday of “joy.” A timely reminder that so often what we say and do in church, and even the colors we gather under, represent what we aspire to, not always how we feel in the present.
I hope you will make it a part of your Advent journey this year and share it with others who may be grieving the loss of a loved one or are simply in need of a word of encouragement and peace during this holy, but often demanding time of year.