purple: Red Letter Challenge

Some of my teachers rolled with my shenanigans. Others had their patience tested. I suspect Mrs. Boles was the latter (probably true of more teachers than I realize.)

I was Mrs. Boles’ student for 7th grade social studies. Despite getting under her skin, I learned a great deal. I especially loved our study of ancient civilizations. That stuff stuck with me.

Take for example, the color purple.

It was the Phoenicians who learned how to create purple dye. Because it was so rare, it came to be associated with royalty, the only ones who could afford the luxury. It was exclusionary and a way to set some apart from others.

I don’t think I ever asked or remember learning why purple is the color used in the Church to celebrate the season of Lent. It must be that we recognize Jesus as King, right?

But what kind of a king allows himself to be arrested? What kind of a king sacrifices himself? What kind of a king becomes a servant, a servant who suffers? Jesus lives a life of radical inclusion. Jesus doesn’t set himself above others, but instead humbles himself. Did any members of those royal families decked out in the expensive purple of Phoenicia see themselves as servants? Did they suffer for those in their care? I don’t recall Mrs. Boles making mention of any such rulers.

A suffering servant, bruised purple for our sins. A crucified king, dying so I could live. Jesus is a different kind of king. Jesus flips what it is to rule.

I like to think of Easter with its spring showers, beautiful blooms and new life. Lent says, there is more to the story. That story includes loneliness and pain and struggle. It is about humility and giving all that can be given. It is clothed in purple as it is the story of a King.

I pray I live a life worthy of his sacrifice. I pray others know the King through how I represent him.

Life is better together,
Shawn

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