These are reflections on my decision to pursue Holy Orders in the Episcopal Church. There will be reflections on this process from time to time as I take my steps toward ministry in this church.

Blue? Purple? Rose?

If you are liturgically aware you'll recognize the dilemma of the Advent Wreath, well, at least for some Christians. What it points out for me at this point is that there are some very separate traditions in the church, and that to leave some of them is difficult. Take color for example.

When there was a great deal of liturgical revision in the 70s, following the Roman experimentation that was driven by Vatican II, the Season of Advent was given a thorough review. What was a semi-penitential season was rethought more as a season of preparation and hope, and the Lutherans, hoping to make that clear, decided that the preferred color for the season ought to be blue, as opposed to purple (also the color for Lent). Judging by the catalogues from vestment makers, the transition has worked, with blue vestments here and there with appropriate Advent symbols.

Now here's where it is interesting to me. Sunday, when I celebrate the First Sunday in Advent I will put on my purple chasuble. Moving to the Episcopal side of things, I am giving up blue for Advent. There is allowance for blue, but Trinity will use purple. What is odd is that the Lutherans got the blue idea from the Sarum rite, right out of the Anglican Tradition. It's all pleasantly mixed up.

So why am I writing this? I suspect it's to expose all the little things that accompany a journey like mine. The cultural things that are layered on over time, of which we're not fully aware, seem to become important when they are missed, or lost. These little things, such as hymn tunes, translations, collects, and nomenclature, are in some small part what keep the churches separate, I think. Taking a journey into a new church is a series of gains and losses, and there is great value in that. Knowing these things, or being aware of their transience allows us to know the flow of religion in general and Christianity in particular.

So here is a little thing on blue, purple, and rose, and on. I haven't written about my journey lately, because nothing big has happened. That allows for an occasional focus on small details, the details that can help us understand and orient ourselves on the journey.

A blessed Advent from the Episcopal Church!


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MTH 12/02/07