>Several months ago, I blogged about vestments (robes and stoles) and paraments (table cloths and pulpit/lectern banners). You might remember that the colors and symbols portray meaning for the day or season of the Church liturgical year. Currently, we are in the Christmastide season, which runs from Christmas through January 5th. The Christmastide season is also called the 12 days of Christmas or the Yuletide.
The liturgical color for the Christmastide season is white and gold. Obviously, gold represents the gold given to Christ by the Magi, a gift appropriate for a king. Gold and white also represent purity and holiness. The colors further symbolize divine illumination, the Light of Heaven, and the Incarnation of God.
The stole I wore for Christmas Eve and the 1st Sunday after Christmas and will wear this coming Sunday is a white stole with blue and black crosses. The blue, as in the Advent season, represents Jesus’ royalty. The smaller black crosses are black signifying our need for penitence in response to God’s incarnation. Black used to be the appropriate color for the season of Advent; however, the church has shifted to blue and violet emphasizing Christ’s royalty and de-emphasizing penitence.
The cross on the stole and throughout our churches and homes, not only represents the crucifixion of Christ; the cross reminds us of God’s redeeming grace reconciling us to God. The cross on my stole is different than the cross we are used to seeing. The Latin cross, like the one on the Communion Table, has a longer bottom arm and is most common. The oldest form of the cross represented in the church is the Tau cross which has 4 arms of equal length. The cross on my stole is called the Jerusalem cross. Like the Tau cross, it has 4 equal arms; but, the Jerusalem cross has 4 smaller crosses surrounding the larger one. The smaller crosses represent the 4 Gospels and the 4 directions in which the Gospel was spread.
This particular stole is probably my favorite. I bought it in Jerusalem at a fair-trade shop. It was hand-stitched by women in Gaza and the price of the stole is based on providing a living wage for the women who work on the stoles and other gifts in the fair-trade shop. It is important to watch for fair-trade items when purchasing gifts on your international travel. Often, the price of trinkets you buy for yourself and loved ones are sold for so little that the workers will continue to live in poverty. A fair-trade price for your treasure will be more expensive, but you can be sure that your money is helping the maker to live above the poverty level.
May the Light of the World illumine your path,