Feeling Blue in Advent

Ben in Suit

You may have noticed that we have been using blue instead of purple as our liturgical color this Advent. Blue is a “Sarum” color, coming from rites developed at Salisbury Cathedral in the 11th century, restored during the English Reformation, then rediscovered during the Oxford movement of the latter 19th century.  Blue was used with the goal of getting away from what had become a very Lenten-like penitential theme of Advent.

St. Luke’s blue vestments and altar hangings particularly beautiful. Not does blue pick up a dominant color in our windows, blue it is also the color of Mary who is a centerpiece of  the art of the cathedral and the readings for Advent and Christmas.

For almost two thousand years Mary has been the primary way people experienced the feminine side of God. It was through Mary that people sought God’s nurture and care, to Mary where they turned for maternal support when life got difficult, and from Mary that they learned about being part of God’s family. Though modern theology has helped us understand that God is beyond gender and feminist theologians have helped us rediscover the feminine side of Holy Wisdom, the Holy Spirit, and of Jesus, Mary still emphasizes part of God that it can be all too easy to miss.

The blue of Advent reminds us that we are human beings, not human doings… and that like a mother, God loves us, cares for us, accepts us, forgives us, just as we are. Sometimes people feel blue around the holidays, something especially true remembering loved ones who died during Covid or reflecting on tensions in the world around us. If this is  you, I hope you will notice that Advent can be blue as well – blue from God who truly cares.  

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