“So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Mainly because he was a Spring and Springs look like hell in white.” (Matthew 6:28-29, Dead Sea Gen-X contemporary interpretive edition)
In cultivating my shameless “vestments fixation” over the last few years, I’ve come to an important conclusion about looking SO GOOD at the pulpit.
The Presbyterian Church’s liturgical colors were not selected with “Springs” and “Autumns” in mind.
I mean, honestly – white, red, green and purple over black robes. While Summers and Winters are up there looking positively luminous, Springs and Autumns wind up looking like Lazarus before he came forth. Spring and Autumn Presbyterian ministers don’t stand a chance of looking good in full regalia. Therefore, I think it’s entirely justifiable (speaking as a concerned Spring) we make a few moderate adjustments to the liturgical color concept.
Green – this represents ordinary time. Of course, there are so many holy days in the liturgical calendar, “ordinary time” comes out to about three weekends a year. Green is a fine color for Springs and Autumns, as long as you stay away from the emerald green that looks so great on Summers and Winters. Spring ministers should opt for a nice sage or lime color. Autumns should zero in on olive green, although, in a pinch, army green will do. Personally, I plan to go with sage so that I can blend in with the paint in my bathroom and it will look like my head is floating in midair.
Purple – the liturgical color of feeling guilty and waiting around for something to happen.* Royal purple is a radiant color that should be avoided by Springs and Autumns at all costs. Royal purple only looks good on Summers, Winters, royal people, and Keith Richards. Springs, I advise you stay on the lavender end of the spectrum. Autumns, one word: aubergine.
Red – this is where the Catholics and Anglicans have it all over the Orthodox and Protestants. They wear red vestments all over the place. All the really bloody holy days, like the Feast of the Martyred Saints, the Feast of the Holy Innocents, and Good Friday warrant the red vestments. Presbyterians wear red on Pentecost. That’s it. The one color that all four seasons can carry off and the Presbyterians get one shot at it every year. So my advice is to honor Pentecost by taking a fashion cue from Tom Baker’s Doctor Who incarnation. Wear 15-foot long red vestments that you have to wrap several times around your neck. It’s a sporty and slenderizing look that projects an image of Time Lord trendiness.
White – this color pops up on Presbyterian pastors the way red does on everybody else. Which is unfortunate. Because the one color sure to make a Spring or Autumn Presbyterian pastor look like he or she thoroughly misspent Saturday night is white. And there’s absolutely no fudging on this one – no ecru or ivory for you sad seasons out there. I’ve heard that the Presbyterian Liturgical Color Enforcement Agency will come to your church halfway through your sermon and forcibly remove your crappy off-white vestments, grind them into a powder, sprinkle them in your latte, and make you drink them.
This is an ageless spiritual conundrum – how to serve the Lord in joyful humility while you look like someone who’s been avoiding God’s wrath under a rock for three and a half years? I’m hoping seminary will answer this question. In the meantime, I’m going to Darque Tan to cultivate that “burnished bronze” look that’s so popular with archangels and Malibu Barbie.
* Otherwise known as Lent and Advent
© Marian the Seminarian, 2011