In liturgical churches like ours, the altar will look different this week. As the season of Lent begins on Wednesday, the paraments will be purple.
Purple was an expensive dye at the time of Jesus. It was made from the secretions of a certain snail. Thousands of those snails were needed even for a small amount of the dye. Only the rich, which usually meant royalty, could afford purple garments.
Jesus wore a purple robe just once, along with a crown of thorns, as soldiers mocked him for being a king (Mark 15:17). This color is a powerful reminder of that Jesus was despised and rejected, a path of suffering that culminated with his crucifixion.
Reminded of the sacrifice he made for us, we enter the season of Lent with repentance. Turning from our sin to our Savior, we will find forgiveness from our king, who came to suffer and die for us.