The Art of Forgiveness

“‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’” Luke 15:31-32

There are a lot of parts of my job that are really cool. One of them this winter has been preparing for a Lenten art exhibition, "The Father & His Two Sons: The Art of Forgiveness," we got on loan from Calvin College. The exhibition, which opens today at First Pres, features more than 40 pieces from more than a dozen different artists. All the work is inspired by the Parable of the Prodigal Son.

I have never been an "art" person. Sure, I love visual and performing arts, but when it comes to paintings and sculptures, little has ever moved the needle. But in working on this project, seeing these pieces, reading the stories and hearing the passion of those involved, it's been exciting. I'll admit to not understanding everything, but I've been moved by the different interpretations of the story.

It's been beautiful, to me, to see this story of the Prodigal Son and how it's inspired people from different times and different cultural contexts to see themselves in the characters. And not just the Prodigal Son, but his brother and father. We are all in this story, and its themes unite us all.

It's like this piece above, from an anonymous African artist, who beautifully captures the themes of this story in something that is instantly recognizable to the cultural context he or she is from. A more maternalistic culture, this painting of the reunion includes the mother, who is not even mentioned in the Biblical text. The subtle variations like that have been fascinating to observe.

The collector of this exhibition, Larry Gerbens, said what drew him to the story and this collection were the rich themes of grace and forgiveness. And he believes that's what draws so many to these pieces and this story. We can see ourselves in these characters, and we should. It's one of Jesus' most famous parables, and it's as applicable today as it was when He told it.

I have never found myself draw to art, but in my work on this exhibition I've found pieces that spoke to me and made me think. That's a rare gift that I hope many others will get to enjoy.

If you're in Colorado Springs, come down and check out the exhibition between today and Sunday, April 16. If not, the exhibition is on loan from Calvin College, where it will return, and is features in the book The Father & His Two Sons: The Art of Forgiveness, so I encourage you to check it out.


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