Someone told him, "Your mother and brothers are standing outside, wanting to speak to you." He replied to him, "Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?" And stretching out his hand toward his disciples, he said, "Here are my mother and my brothers!" (Matthew 12:47)
We speak often of Jesus as Savior, Teacher, Messiah, Lord, and King. But we who are his disciples and followers can also call him Brother: the relationship we have with Jesus has the potential to become infinitely more personal.
This is a particular gift as we head into the season of Lent. It is no coincidence that Lent takes place in spring, when the seeds that have lain dormant over the winter are first struggling to break through the hard shell of being and the rough embrace of earth.
The sturdy seedling with arched body comes
Shouldering its way and shedding the earth crumbs.
(Robert Frost: Putting in the Seed)
If we understand Lent as an opportunity to deepen our relationship with Christ, then the struggles we endure with whatever discipline we might be led to take on during this period of germination are struggles he shares with us. Our desert is his desert; our challenges his challenges. Our opportunities for growth and surrender are not faced alone. Jesus our brother is the warm sun that entices us to leave the shell, as well as the warm rain of love that softens the earth so we can emerge into the light, opening leaves and blossoms that we might someday bear the fruit we were born to give to the world.
As we walk through Lent, seeking to break out of our habitual shells, it can prove challenging to face our failures and weaknesses. But in so doing we learn that Jesus is with us and loves us through the struggle; that the sun and rain will continue to feed, support, nurture and entice us as we continue to grow into what we are called by God and Christ to become. If what Marcus Borg (in Meeting Jesus Again for the First Time, Harper One, 1995) calls the pre-resurrection Jesus is our companion and brother in that dark subterranean desert, then we know from the promise of Easter that the post-resurrection Jesus will leave his own earthly grave to join us on our walk through time.
For this exhibit, we invite you to bring into imaginal form what Jesus, our brother has meant, and continues to mean, to you.