Advent: This season of the church year, a “blue” season, is a time of waiting and anticipation. The liturgical color of blue symbolizes hope as we remember and wait for Christ to be born and also his glorious Second Coming.
The Advent Wreath, with its four candles, counts down towards Christmas. Advent lasts four weeks. The pink candle traditionally symbolizes the week during Advent where we remember the Virgin Mary and her faithfulness to God’s Word and plan of salvation. The white candle in the center is lit on Christmas Eve – Christ is born; the Light of the world has come!
The color red is used a few times during the yearly ministry of the church: Reformation Sunday, Pentecost Sunday, and Sundays in which one of the saints of the church is remembered. Red symbolizes fire; hence its association with the Holy Spirit and images of the dove. Red also symbolizes blood; the blood of the martyrs and saints that shared the gospel at the cost of their lives.
The color black is used twice in the church year: Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. Ash Wednesday begins the season of Lent; Good Friday ends the season of Lent. Black is the color of ashes; its a sign of our mortality or in other words, death. These two days get at both our own death and the death of Lord and so a very solemn, holy days.
Lent is a time of repentance and of coming closer to our Lord as we follow his journey to the cross. Purple is the color of royalty; Jesus was mockingly clothed with purple before his crucifixion. Purple, like black, is a color that carries with it somberness and solemnity. The Lord is opposed to sin; that’s why he came to forgive us. Our fight against sin (personal and corporate) is a key Lenten theme.
The color of life and resurrection is white. During the Easter season (which lasts 7 weeks) white permeates our sanctuary. God’s life has broken and defeated the power of sin and death. Christ is risen; He is risen indeed! White symbolizes not only life and resurrection, but also purity and holiness. White also is symbolic of baptism – through the water and the Word are reborn and adopted as God’s own children and promised new life.
The color green is seen most often in the life of church. Over 20 weekends are a part of the green season. We call this season “Time after Pentecost” – the time in which the Holy Spirit is at work through the church. In some church traditions it is referred to as “Ordinary time” – the very ordinary, routine time in which God is still at work through his Word and Sacraments. It is the pilgrim time of the church remember God’s promise to be with us always, even unto the end of the age.