June 8 Pastors page Thoughts
The thermometer is supposed to hit 88 today. It’s late May, but that sounds like mid-summer to me. I’m about to give the mower another spin around my little lawn, and visions of vacation dance in my head. Everything is green. The grass has yet to burn to brown, the leaves are completely unfurled, and even the church proclaims it is going green, despite the town’s refusal to pick up our recyclables or to provide homeowners with extra recycling bins. As Kermit sang, “It’s not easy being green.”
Even our sanctuary paraments are green, apart from Communion or Baptism Sundays. It crossed my mind that bikers and church members have this much in common – we have our colors. What I fear, of course, is that bikers know the reason they wear their colors. Do church members know the reason behind the colors of our paraments? Don’t tell me – what’s a parament?!!???!!!! Even spell check doesn’t recognize that word.
So, just as last month, we looked at the six seasons of the Church year – you remember – Advent, Christmas, Epiphany, Lent, Easter, and Pentecost – so this month we’ll satisfy your wondering about those different colored hangings from the pulpit, the lectern, and the altar – which are called “paraments.”
Let’s start at the beginning. Advent, like Lent, is a time of preparation, penitence, and sacrifice. These seasons prepare us for the birth, and then the suffering, leading to death, of Christ the King. As purple was an expensive dye to make, it became associated with royalty. The Church, with its identification of Christ as King, reserved violet or purple for occasions dealing primarily with Christ in that role.
White is the color of the Twelve Days of Christmas and of Easter season. It is also the color for the sacraments of Baptism and Communion. White symbolizes purity, holiness, and virtue, as well as respect and reverence.
Epiphany and Pentecost are all about renewal and ongoing life. The greens of spring and summer reflect the budding and growth of the vegetation around us and our faith within us.
Red symbolizes fire. God spoke to Moses from a burning bush. God’s Holy Spirit came down like flames over those who spoke so many different tongues, to reverse the confusion upon the word since the Tower of Babel. It is the color reserved for Pentecost Sunday, for ordinations and for Confirmation, when we pray for a special blessing of the presence of God’s spirit.
By the changing colors of the paraments, we are reminded that things are happening in the life of the Church. As we begin the longest season of the Church year, may the green of ongoing life reflect what is growing among and between us.
See you in church?