One of the trendy preschool and Sunday School Easter gifts is a little baggie filled with different colored Jelly beans and a note that helps the children remember things like: Red means love, and green means growing.
I have seen many, many different versions of these Easter Jelly Beans. The colors and their meanings change sometimes, except one… The black Jelly bean is ALWAYS the sin one. Black means sin. Not just for Jelly beans, but in so many places. If the word sin has to be described in art, music, hearts, the dress of villains’… the color black is always used and it is always associated with bad, sin, evil things.
I would like to propose that in Christianity, black is NOT the color of sin. It is the color of deep and transforming change:
- It is in the darkness of the tomb where death transformed into life eternal.
- It is in the dark of night that the pillar of fire led the Israelites from bondage and slavery, to a life of freedom.
- It was during the dark night that the star shone and led the wise men to Jesus.
- It is in the darkness of night that Nicodemus breaks ranks with the status quo of his religious order and seeks out the wisdom of Jesus.
- It is during the Dark Night of the Soul, John of the Cross reminds us, that the most transformative work of God takes place.
- It is in the middle of the dark night that parents bond with their new babies.
- It is in the dark of night when we struggle with and eventually make peace with our pain, loss, worries and grief.
- It is often when life becomes the most dark and hopeless that we decide to pray.
Black is not the color of sin biblically and theologically, but the color of depth. Why then are we so afraid of the dark? Not because evil happens there but because change happens there… and we fear change. We fear depth. We do not need to fear the dark. We do not need to demonize the color black. I keep hearing that “Orange is the new black”… I would say, “ Spiritual depth is the new black!”
Next year… please get out the Jelly beans… make those cute baggies filled with them. But instead of making the black Jelly bean the one that means sin, let’s make the black Jelly bean the empty tomb!
Let’s tell children the truth about black… going into the darkness is where we will be transformed into the people God calls us to be! Black, darkness, silence … that is where we discover God, change, and transformation!