Purple - the everlasting colour
Another Lenten adventure in prayer awaits.
In ancient times, purple coloured cloth was rare and very expensive to make. This was because of the long and involved process of producing the dye. Thousands of sea molluscs were harvested, their glands dehydrated, and these were then boiled in vats of water for days. Despite all the extremely hard work, the resulting amount of dye was small in volume. The colour was named Tyrian Purple, after the place where the molluscs were harvested. It reportedly smelled terrible and made the clothes stink too even after they were wasted.
Unlike cloth dyed with other natural colourings, there was something surprising about Tyrian Purple dye. The more a garment was worn, washed and weathered, the stronger the colour became. This added to the value of purple cloth, making it expensive and luxurious. For many years it was the exclusive colour of the wealthy and important. It was the colour of priests and princes, officials and rich merchants. It would take until the mid-1800’s before an alternative artificial residue was created that could rival Tyrian Purple. This new purple dye was equally extraordinary, in that it suddenly made purple cloth available for everyone.
In the book of Acts, chapter 16, we read the story of Lydia. Lydia was a businesswoman. She was a seller of purple cloth. She was also a follower of God. When Paul and Timothy told her more about Jesus Christ, she and her family were baptised. Lydia became one of the earliest Christians.
A certain woman named Lydia, a worshiper of God, was listening to us; she was from the city of Thyatira and a dealer in purple cloth. The Lord opened her heart to listen eagerly to what was said by Paul. When she and her household were baptized, she urged us, saying, “If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come and stay at my home.” And she prevailed upon us.
Acts 16:14-15 (NRSV)
In today’s prayer room we weave the story of the two dyes, and the story of Lydia together and we explore what it means for anyone and everyone to be a follower of Jesus. Our prayers are responses to these thoughts.
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