The Color of Advent

Advent is upon us, and with that, Christmas is just around the corner. Also, you probably noticed that we’re using the blue paraments again this year instead of the violet ones. We’ll probably do it again one more year and then switch back.

Violet is a great color for Advent, and it’s the more traditional one when it comes to LCMS congregations. When the guys in the confessional circles in which I swim begin to hassle me about it, I just start singing the Magnificat. I think it makes them itch. This is true because when folks see the blue paraments—especially Lutheran folks—sometimes they attribute the color to the Roman Catholic Church’s choices with regard to liturgical colors. I get that. Blue has sort of been hijacked to reference, among other things, adoration of the Virgin Mary. But if you were here in worship this past Sunday, then you know that’s not what we’re doing here by this selection. In fact, blue has been used by the church for a good long while. And one interesting fact is that since violet was the color of royalty, it was very expensive and harder to acquire by the poverty stricken Christian churches. Blue was more accessible. In a sense, it was a very pragmatic choice, and so naturally, it was incorporated.

But it wasn’t used without purpose. And as was preached yesterday, you’ll notice that the traditional blue of Advent isn’t the bright baby blue most folks associate with the Roman Catholic images of the blessed virgin mother of our Lord. Advent’s blue is a deep, dark blue. It is reminiscent of the deepest, clearest blue that can only be seen for those few moments just after the darkest part of the night and just before the sky changes and softens and begins to glow with the new sunrise. This midnight blue color symbolizes that while the light of dawn is coming, and in a sense, we are still in the dark, nevertheless, the rising sun is only moments away. Christ is coming—both at Christmas and at the Last Day.

In my opinion, the midnight blue does more to teach the two-fold heart of Advent than most other colors. That is, as long as you get the right color blue and you know why it’s the right color.

In the end, I think it’s grand that everything in the nave is designed to hone our senses and direct our attention to the One who has given His life that we would have life in His name. That’s pretty great. Even the color of the paraments plays a part in the proclamation of this wonderful drama revealed by the holy Word of God!