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First Pres Blog

The Art of Forgiveness, No. 9

Posted by Matt Fox on

"Shelter From The Storm," Jon McDonald, Calvin College. Gift of Larry and Mary Gerbens.

Since the beginning of March, First Pres has hosted a special Lenten art exhibition, "The Father & His Two Sons: The Art of Forgiveness." The collection, on loan from Calvin College, features artists from different eras and cultural backgrounds who created works inspired by the Parable of the Prodigal Son, found in Luke 15.

Hundreds have gone through the exhibition in the six weeks that it's been on site, and for all of them the experience has been moving and profound. That's been the case for thousands of people around the country who have visited the exhibition as its traveled to dozens of sites around the United States.

The collection began with Larry Gerbens and his wife, Mary. They were guests during opening weekend back in March, and Larry shared some of the stories of these pieces and the passion he has for this art. He said this exhibition has become a ministry for him and his wife, as they travel the country sharing these stories with people. Larry talked at length about the impact this parable, and these art pieces have, as they focus on the rich themes of Grace and Forgiveness found in the parable.

Today's piece is reflective of that. Jon McDonald's piece is a reminder that we can never go too far to humbly repent and return home to the Father. McDonald was asked to commission a piece for the collection and delivered "Shelter From The Storm" in 2007.

Of his piece, McDonald said, "The fact of the father shows the true love and forgiveness he has for his son. The son is showing his shame for his deeds. He also shows humility and gratitude for the love of his father." (The Father & His Two Sons: The Art of Forgiveness, pg. 54)

Larry, too, noted he was moved by the depiction of grace seen in this work. "The shame of the son and the humble joy of the father as the sun rises on 'a new day' capture yet another aspect of forgiveness." (The Father & His Two Sons: The Art of Forgiveness, pg. 54)

If you haven't yet gone to see this exhibition, I encourage you to head down for the Good Friday Service and spend some time taking in these 43 pieces of art. The exhibition officially closes this weekend, so this is a last chance to experience these pieces up close and ruminate on these themes.

As you do so, consider the Parable of the Prodigal Son and how God is speaking to you through the words of Jesus. What is God calling you to? What do these works of art inspire? How can you grow closer to Jesus this Easter season?

Tags: art, easter, lent, prodigal, worship