25 Jan The Colors of Worship
The Church’s liturgical year, which began with Advent, is ordered in such a way as to guide the faithful on their spiritual journey throughout the year. Currently we are in “green season”, sometimes referred to as “Ordinary Time”. This began after last Sunday’s feast of the Baptism of the Lord and will continue until Ash Wednesday on February 17, 2021.
The color of the altar hangings and priest’s vestments reflect the season: for example, from Christmas through to the Baptism of the Lord, the liturgical color was white, or gold. Tomorrow’s liturgical color will be green. White or gold are the colors of joy; green is the color of hope and growth.
In Lent the color changes to purple, symbolizing penitence. In the Episcopal church there is also the option to use “Lenten Array”, a coarse, plain fabric which emphasizes penitence and simplicity. This season prepares us for the feast of Easter, the most important day in the Church’s calendar. Easter brings a return to white or gold, reflecting the joy of resurrection.
The color red is seen on Palm Sunday, Pentecost, Holy Cross Day or on the feast day of any Church martyr. It can represent the Holy Spirit, as at Pentecost, or the blood of Christ, or of those who died professing their faith. The Sunday after Pentecost is Trinity Sunday (white) which is followed by the second and longer season of Ordinary Time. This lasts until Advent, the second penitential season, when the color turns to purple, (except in the USA, where there is the option to use Sarum blue).
The changing colors of the church year are part of a rich blend of liturgical worship which includes music, scripture, prayer and sacrament. The liturgy tells the continuing story of God’s people and, at the same time, provides a structure and direction to the worship which is both meaningful and beautiful. This worship is an expression of the interweaving of God’s story with our own. Therefore, as we immerse ourselves in every aspect of the liturgy – the music, the prayers, the readings, the sermon, the Eucharistic prayer – the quality of our spiritual cloth will be determined by the quality of our listening and attention. All of this has one objective: to give glory to God!
In the joy and faith of Christ,