This coming Sunday, December 6th is the second Sunday of Advent. In the Christian calendar, Advent are the four Sundays preceding Christmas, which are rich in expectation and hope in the birth of Jesus. As the nights lengthen we would do well to embrace the symbols and rituals of gathering light that harken a new day and a new year.
The traditional color of Advent is purple. Since ancient times, purple was reserved for royalty due to the very expensive dyes needed to create the color. Since Jesus is said to be the Prince of Peace, it follows that tradition would reserve purple as the color of his birth.
I find the color purple to be even more prescient this year than most. Without a doubt 2020 will go down as one of the worst years in modern history. Even a hopeful presidential election cannot unburden us from the troubles we are facing. But beyond the red and blue state divide there is the reality that most of our country is purple. If there is any good news in the deep divisions we are living with, it might be this: regardless of the winner-take-all map of the electoral college, many communities have conservatives and progressives, moderates and entrenched alike, living as neighbors.
Far from dividing us, might our reality at the end of this year provide us with a new realization of our country and our communities? We are, at the end of the day, more purple than blue or red. We are more inclined to treat our neighbors as friendly. We are more likely than not to wish those we know and those we don’t the best wishes in this season of expectation and hope.
Try it for yourself this month: try greeting all those you meet with a bright smile (behind the mask of course) and a hearty, “Seasons Greetings!” Invite the purple spirit of the coming holidays into your heart and soul and see what happens.
All of us are weary of this pandemic, this election, this economy and the injustice of it all. Let’s remember that the reasons for this season go far beyond any one religion. This is the season of expectation that the light will return, breaking upon the shores of our darker impulses towards a new day. We are loved and we must love in return.
To quote Alice Walker in her masterpiece The Color Purple, “People think pleasing God is all God cares about. But any fool living in the world can see God always trying to please us back.”
Here is to loving each other back.
Yours always, Rev. John