I’m fond of purple: just check my wardrobe and my pictures of sunsets. I’m partial to lilacs and violets, but have to admit I’m not too excited about grape jelly. Purple also signals the season of Lent in our church, because purple has connections to a mood of reflection and repentance, and connections to royalty.
It used to be so expensive to make purple dye that only kings and queens could afford to use fabric of that colour. That’s one of the reasons that we sometimes describe a person as “born to the purple,” or “born in the purple” referring to royal birth, special birthright or privileged heritage. But there’s also a suggestion of limitation, of life being set in one specific direction.
That’s what Jesus tells his disciples as they travel the road to Jerusalem: “I have come down from heaven not to do my own will, but the will of him who sent me.” Openly he tells them that pain and death await him, but they don’t want to hear or understand. They don’t want to know about the cross, because they have dreams of a different kind of glory. It’s hard for them to understand that his painful and shameful death can have a positive result. Yet as he suffers the separation from God that our sins cause us to suffer, a new pathway is opened to a restored relationship. By the cross Jesus says, “I’ve suffered it all, and nothing need keep you away anymore from my God and Father.”
It is not the way the disciples wanted to put things right. It is not the way we would choose because it doesn’t depend on our own goodness or effort. Instead it is the mysterious and merciful gift of God, love and forgiveness poured into our lives by the action of the Holy Spirit. Rest in that as you ponder the purple of Lent.
“God of the covenant, in the glory of the cross Your Son embraces the power of death and breaks its hold over Your people. In this time of repentance, draw all people to Yourself so that we who confess Jesus as Lord may put aside the deeds of death and embrace the life of Your kingdom.
Amen.” (Thanks to Pastor Elhert, Mount Olivet, Edmonton for sharing this prayer)
Pastor Susan Horton