The Color Purple
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Posted on Mon, Mar 3, 2008
We are still in the church season of Lent. Many churches have purple par aments on the altar, lectern and pulpit. Many pastors and choir members wear purple stoles. Why purple?
In ancient times, purple garments were expensive and hard to find. The dye came from rare sea mollusks that had to be crushed to garner their purple fluid. (One ounce of purple dye required 250,000 mollusks.) Then the right kind of fabric had to be placed in the dye, dried and made into clothing, which was time-consuming.
Generally, only wealthy people and members of royalty could afford purple garments. For example, in the story of the rich man and Lazarus, the rich man “was dressed in purple and fine linen” (Luke 16:19, NRSV).
Purple is used in church sanctuaries during Advent and Lent because Christ is revered as the King of Kings.
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