It’s a simple, reasonable question deserving a simple, reasonable answer. The short answer is that the Christian year is divided into seasons and each season has its own colors. Within each season may be special days and festival days which are signified by colors, too. So, the colors change according to the season and the occasion.
The long answer is that worship is designed to be a multisensory experience. We stand, we sit, we sing, we pray, we listen, we speak, we commune with each other and with the Spirit. The environment in which we worship contains a variety of elements–things like the beautiful stained glass windows, banners, the sermon, the music, the paraments in the chancel-- which can inform and inspire us. Many may change according to the season or the occasion.
November is a month of ending and beginning in the life of the Church. The month begins with All Saints Sunday. The suggested vestment colors for this day are either the celebratory colors of white or gold, or the color red, in remembrance of martyred saints. The chancel and clergy will be vested in the green of Ordinary Time for the second and third Sundays in November. The fourth Sunday in November brings about the end of the Christian year with Christ the King Sunday when the chancel will be vested in white.
The new Christian year begins on the fifth Sunday in November which is the first Sunday in Advent. Advent is the season in the Christian year which proclaims the comings of the Christ and calls the Church to prepare for these comings. The chancel is vested in either the royal purple or blue, for hope. The Advent wreath, evergreens, and banners adorn the worship space as visual celebrations of the season. Advent continues until Christmas with each Sunday having its own theme. The first Sunday in Advent, traditionally, celebrates Christ’s coming in final victory. Advent is more than just the “countdown” to Christmas; it provides us with opportunities to prepare our hearts through study and worship for the Coming King.
Why do the colors change? ‘Tis the season! Happy Christian New Year!
Source: The United Methodist Book of Worship, 1992, The United Methodist Publishing House, Nashville, TN.