A Study in Purple

If you walk into an Anglican church right now, your retinas would be instantly presented with the colour purple. 

In certain Christian traditions, colour means an awful lot. At different times of year, churches are adorned with red, blue, white, green, gold, and at this time of year - purple. 

The concept behind “liturgical colours” is to generate a specific mood or feeling that relates to whatever it is Christians are remembering at a specific time. 

Therefore, we have to ask - why are the churches purple during the season of Advent? 

Advent, if you’re not familiar, is the four Sundays before Christmas. You might have had an advent wreath in your church growing up. Usually a well-behaved young girl would be asked by the vicar to come up and light the candles on a Sunday. Something about my chaotic demeanour as a child led church leaders to doubt my proficiency with an open flame. I never got the call. 

Purple is a royal colour. When Jesus is on trial before Herod and Pilate, he’s mockingly given a purple robe, as the “King of the Jews”. In our churches during advent, purple announces the arrival of a king. 

Purple is also a colour that calms, soothes, and leads us to introspection. It awakens our senses, and allows us to make astute observations. Essentially, it’s a colour of reflection. 

Reflection and royalty. 

This advent, use time in between the buzz of Christmas lights and sweet sound of carols to dwell on Jesus as the king who has come, and will come again. 

Take a walk and leave your phone at home. Find your favourite quiet spot on campus and consider creation. Read scripture and explore what it reveals to you about Jesus. 

And above all, let it affect you. Let this incredible truth that God came down to earth to make us right with him change how you see not just the season but also our whole lives. 

Usually when we engage with sermons or articles we like to seek the application for our lives. What from the passage shows us how to live? 

I don’t think advent is really about that. I think advent is about staring at the manger, and letting it stir you in whatever way that it will. 

We go on and on about how it’s important to acknowledge the “true meaning of Christmas”. 

Let’s do that this winter by engaging with the liturgical colour of purple. Reflection and royalty. 


Sam Brown

Student Mission Developer

Sam had his life transformed by stepping into a leadership role at his church in his final year of university. He is committed to helping churches raise up other student leaders to share the transformational power of Jesus Christ.

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