Who doesn’t love a bit of purple?
It took me a long time to appreciate the Anglican predilection for liturgical colours. Once pieced together, however, and I was away.
Purple is long associated with royalty, richness, penitence (hence Lent), funerals and, in my mind, cold end of autumn days, and of course Advent.
A long time ago, probably the 70s, when I was six or seven, I was taken to the local town to buy a new dress for Christmas.
It must have been a cold autumnal afternoon. I think we arrived near sun down. It was probably Advent. There were two dresses I remember in particular. Velvet was in and they were both velvet – little buttons all the way down the front and a small piece of white lace at the collar.
One was a wine coloured purple, reddish and beautiful, but not a good fit.
The other, which did fit, and which was duly purchased, was deep midnight blue.
I felt good in that dress. I felt properly dressed. I felt like a princess.
Sometimes a song comes along that captures the spirit of the season. It’s probably very tenuous, but for me, preparing to preach each Sunday through Advent on waiting, repentance, judgment and the return of the King, it has to be Ink, by Coldplay, from their 2014 Ghost Stories.
It’s partly the artwork. A pair of wings on a deep midnight blue background. They’re like angel wings – a Nativity maybe. Or the wings of a dove. And the title: Ink. There’s something deep and mysterious about a bottle of dark blue ink. Or sky, just before the dawn. Or the deep blue waters of baptism.
The singer has marked himself with an ink tattoo to remember his love (‘carving your name with a pocket knife’). ‘All I know, all I know, is that I’m lost in your fire below/ all I know is that I love you so/so much that it hurts’.
Ink is a love song. It talks about being broken and lost and loving till it hurts. Simple. It’s haunting, like a Christmas song that’s got under your skin without permission, with a ‘to die for’ riff and two little melodies that come together as the song builds.
Whether it’s purple in Advent, or deep indigo blue on the altar; whether in dark skies that will eventually dawn, or in the deep waters of death leading to life, the song paints the mood. And it fits. Like the perfect dress.