Color is such a big part of the seasons of Advent and Christmas. The colorful lights we see in people’s homes, the lights on buildings, in shops, and in public places, the Christmas tree lights in color or in white–all contribute to the festivity of the season. (I’m partial to white lights on Christmas trees.)
Color catches our eye. It can be color found in nature or as part of created structures. We are drawn to the bright and vivid. However, when I contemplate the Christmas story, I imagine a more muted palate–the earthen and dark tones of the manger and the animals, the soil, the clothing worn, and the darkness of that first Christmas evening.
For me it comes down to the difference between Advent and Christmas. Advent calls us to reflect on our need for a Savior, hence the focus on the quiet, reflective, and muted atmosphere of preparation and expectation. On Christmas, however, the promise has been fulfilled, and we celebrate the arrival of the Promised One–an experience reflected in the pregnancy of Mary and the subsequent birth of Jesus–an experience of confusion, hope, and faith followed by the celebration of new life. Mary’s experience is analogous to the experience of all believers, as we walk in faith and hope and experience in our better moments the new life Jesus brings.
“Mary said, ‘Behold. I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.'” (Luke 1:38)