Color Change

It was a typical, early winter day in Michigan. Cold and wet and gray all over. My schedule for the day was fairly light—only an RW staff meeting to attend. For some time, I'd been wanting to write something about the use of liturgical color in worship, and I was hoping to get some help by asking a few questions. Is using liturgical color in worship an idea that sounds right and logical and helpful? Or is it, in the end, just another worship gimmick? My friends didn't have the nice short answer I was looking for. Why do we promote the use of certain colors for certain times during the church year? And why do we call them liturgical colors anyway?

Instant Revelation

Then I went to lunch. The moment I stepped out of the door—BANG—God had changed seasons on me, a change signaled by color. Everything was covered with a light dusting of white snow. All of the objects I'd looked at a thousand times begged for another look. They were changed but they were still the same.

Maybe that's the thing we try do—or should try to do—with color in our worship spaces. Draw renewed attention to the things that matter. Show the same things but with enough change to warrant another look.

Coat of Many Colors

These fabric hangings—called pamment&—are intended to bring renewed attention to the baptismal font, the pulpit, and the table. Each is two-sided with a different liturgical color on the reverse. The design features two color bands at the top that carry the liturgical color. The top band is solid; the second is a mix of coordinating colors in stripes of varying widths. For continuity, the base color and symbols at the bottom are the same for all seasons.

In addition to using these paraments in your worship space, you might want to educate worshipers a bit. Consider putting a word or two in the bulletin. Convince your pastor to mention them during the service. If you have a separate worship time for children, talk to the children's worship leaders so they can connect the color change happening in the sanctuary with what they are doing in their own worship area.

So what are the colors of the church year anyway? RW 64 included a calendar indicating the colors of the church year. Here are the basics, but check our website ( for the complete calendar.

Dean Heetderks is a member of Covenant Christian Reformed Church in Cutlerville, Michigan, and art director of Reformed Worship. Show and tell him about your experiences at

Reformed Worship 67 © March 2003, Calvin Institute of Christian Worship. Used by permission.