This is a really good question, asked recently by one of our Cedar Park children. Here’s the answer:
We use dark blue during Advent – the colour of the sky just before the dawn breaks, as a symbol of waiting for the Light (Christ) about to break in upon the world at Christmas. Neat?! (Some traditions also associate blue with Mary, Jesus’ mother).
Now you’re curious; here’s a quick explanation of why and what the other colours are.
The use of different colours to mark the different seasons of the Christian year is an ancient tradition, going way back to the fourth century. For a few hundred years, Protestants did not follow the colour changes – but in the mid 20th century the ecumenical “Liturgical Movement” encouraged churches like the United Church to get colourful – replacing the favourite burgundy velvet with the colours of the liturgical calendar for banners, stoles (the scarf like coloured cloth the minister wears) and communion tables.
For much of the church year, the colour is green – the colour of growth. You’ll see green between Epiphany (Jan 6) and the beginning of Lent, and again from Pentecost (usually in mid to late May) until the beginning of Advent (December).
Lent is considered to be a penitential season (a time to ‘turn around’ from ways that lead us away from God, and to turn back towards a life of faith and witness), and the colour is purple.
Easter and Christmas are celebrations of the brilliance of the glory of God. How better to celebrate these feasts than with brilliant gold (or white)?
Pentecost is the day when we read the story of the coming of the Holy Spirit like tongues of fire. So the colour we wear use is flame red.
For funerals at Cedar Park we don’t use black, the colour of mourning, but we use white/gold, the colour of resurrection, because a funeral or memorial worship is a reminder that “In life, in death and in life beyond death, God is with us!”