In the heady days before powerpoint, church leaders understood the power of image. They conveyed the message of the season using colours on the altar, the priest’s vestments and other hangings around the church. At a time when most people could not read and the church services were only offered in Latin, anyone could tell immediately what liturgical season they were in by looking at the colours in the church. At Northern Lights MCC, we also use these colours – purple for Lent and Advent, red for Pentecost, white and gold for Easter and Christmas, green for times of the year when there are no special occasions or seasons. We are also creative in decorating our altar for the church events we celebrate, such as Pride, or the worship themes that we develop for ourselves.
Troy and Margaret dress the altar every week. I asked Margaret what colour she associated with the word ‘prophet’. She thought for a moment, then said ‘Red’, which is exactly the colour that I had thought of too. So during this worship theme, ‘Stories from the Prophets’ the altar cloth and the stole at communion will both be red. In our culture, red can stand for danger, for anger, for love and passion. In the liturgical colours, it symbolises the blood of martyrs and the fire of the Holy Spirit. All of these associations seem very apt for the prophets – people who could see how God’s people were going astray. They must have felt frustrated and angry sometimes, as they tried to give a message that no-one wanted to hear. They certainly encountered danger for speaking God’s truth and were seen as dangerous themselves. They were inspired and filled with the passion of the Holy Spirit to proclaim their message, and some of them, like John the Baptist were killed by their enemies. Which prophets, past or present day, inspire you?