The Colors of Advent

Historically, the primary sanctuary color of Advent is Purple, the color of royalty to welcome the Advent of the King. The purple of Advent is also the color of suffering used during Lent and Holy Week. This points to an important connection between Jesusí birth and death. The nativity, the Incarnation, cannot be separated from the crucifixion, the Atonement. The purpose of Jesusí coming into the world, of the "Word made flesh" and dwelling among us, is to reveal God and His grace to the world through Jesusí life and teaching, but also through his suffering, death, and resurrection.

However, many churches now use blue to distinguish the Season of Advent from Lent. Royal Blue is sometimes used as a symbol of royalty. Some churches use Bright Blue to symbolize the night sky, the anticipation of the impending announcement of the Kingís coming, or to symbolize the waters of Genesis 1, the beginning of a new creation. Red and Green are more secular colors of Christmas, although they derive from older European practices of using evergreens and holly to symbolize ongoing life and hope that Christís birth brings into a cold world.

The word Advent means "coming" or "arrival." The focus of the entire season is the celebration of the birth of Jesus the Christ in his First Advent, and the anticipation of the return of Christ the King in his Second Advent. Thus, Advent is far more than simply marking a 2,000 year old event in history. It is celebrating a truth about God, the revelation of God in Christ whereby all of creation might be reconciled to God. That is a process in which we now participate, and the consummation of which we anticipate. Scripture reading for Advent will reflect this emphasis on the Second Advent, including themes of accountability for faithfulness at His coming, judgment on sin, and the hope of eternal life.

In this double focus on past and future, Advent also symbolizes the spiritual journey of individuals and a congregation, as they affirm that Christ has come, that He is present in the world today, and that He will come again in power. That acknowledgment provides a basis for Kingdom ethics, for holy living arising from a profound sense that we live "between the times" and are called to be faithful stewards of what is entrusted to us as Godís people. So, as the church celebrates Godís inbreaking into history in the Incarnation, and anticipates a future consummation to that history for which "all creation is groaning awaiting its redemption," it also confesses its own responsibility as a people commissioned to "love the Lord your God with all your heart" and to "love your neighbor as yourself."

Advent


 
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