The Color of Advent
by Craig Dosher
The Episcopal Church uses the colors purple/violet or blue as the liturgical color of Advent. I grew up by the sea in a tiny southeastern North Carolina village. Blue was the wintertime color of life there, at least in my child mind. Ultramarine ocean, cobalt river, and azure skies greeted my eyes almost every day from December to March. Even the brisk, salty winds that chilled my father and me to the bone on our speckled-trout fishing trips seemed to be the color of cyan. Dressed in layers, long johns, jeans, sweaters, coveralls, and knit caps called “soogans,” (back then everyone that I knew wore soogans which is an Irish word for a hand-twisted rope of straw or heather) we waited in expectation for a fish bite on our taut trolling lines, pulled by a boat that daddy built himself. It was our father-son time.
Long before I ever knew about Advent and its meaning, I associated blue and winter and water with great anticipation tempered by the wait. Over time, adoration for the sea and sky, eagerness for the catch, excitement for the trembling line, and the revelation of the mighty fish, all shared with my dad, perhaps prepared me to look for deep meanings in nature and in my faith. God works in symbols and in signs. The Episcopal Church’s emphasis on and reverence for symbolism initially drew me in, and the fact that my future wife, but then girlfriend, Amanda, was a member made it all the better. I became an Episcopalian almost fifteen years ago, and the strong tug of spiritual metaphor has not abated in the years since then.
As a zealous convert, I am moved by the great depths of our liturgies and liturgical colors. My favorite rite is Holy Baptism. It was my two daughters’ introduction into the loving family of the Episcopal Church. I can tell you without hesitation or fear of dreaded sarcasm that I cried softly each time the priest prepared us for what was to come with “We thank you, Almighty God, for the gift of water. Over it the Holy Spirit moved in the beginning of creation.” The past and the present mingled in my mind on their baptism days, and with their futures in mind the trinity of time abides in me as we welcome every sweet soul in our midst. On each occasion, I travel back to see a boy and his father together on the river of life and feel what must have been then as it is now and will always be, the presence of the Holy Spirit. In this, I am reminded of the biblical scene that featured John the Baptizer and Jesus.
John was the first person to preach Advent. He appeared in the wilderness, fulfilling Isaiah’s prophecy that God would send a messenger to prepare the way for the coming of Christ. He worked in water, proclaiming a repentant baptism for the forgiveness of sins. He told the penitents, “After me comes the one more powerful than I, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie.” The baptized waited for our Lord to arrive. Then, Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and John baptized him. And, “Just as Jesus was coming up out of the water, he saw heaven being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: ‘You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.” The color of water is the color of Advent.
When I enter Christ Church, I always dip my fingers in the Holy Water of the baptismal font. I think about my dad, my wife and children, the blessing of water, of preparing myself with great anticipation for the experience of the Holy Eucharist service. But most of all, I anticipate the arrival of my Lord… in blue.
December 11, 2017
November 20, 2017
September 20, 2019