ENCOUNTERING JESUS
& THE ANABAPTIST MOVEMENT

This 12 x 14 foot icon was designed and painted by artist Rob Larson over the course of a year from summer 2020 to summer 2021.

Read more below.

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The symbolism is abundant, and we encourage all viewers to pay attention to their own heart’s response to the art! But here’s some of what we see and want to express in this design:

  • Jesus of Nazareth, a person of color from the Middle East, lived a life of non-violent openness to all. He reveals his wounds, arms open as he was on the cross of his crucifixion, showing his vulnerability and willingness to suffer rather than use his power to dominate.

  • The resurrected Jesus Christ is alive now, and facing us with arms open wide offering love and compassion.

  • At Christ’s feet, flowers bloom in abundance, reminding us of God’s provision: “Consider the lilies of the field” (Matthew 6:28).

  • Jesus Christ stands by a picture of his parable in which the Kingdom of God is compared to a mustard seed that grows into a mighty tree where birds perch and make nests in its branches -- a wonderful picture of hospitality and a place of rest, renewal and joy (Luke 13:18-19).

  • The tree is designed from the Oak of Mamre in the famous Eastern Orthodox icon of the ‘Hospitality of Abraham’ by Andrei Rublev (Genesis 18:1-8).  The tree design is reminiscent of a Bonsai tree that is cultivated over many years and at the tip of the tree, a Shaker style inspired ‘The Tree of Life’ to sprout singular leaves and abundant fruit for the ‘healing of the nations’(Revelations 22:2). 

  • There is a dove representing the Holy Spirit descending upon Christ, which recalls his baptism and God calling him Beloved (Matthew 3:17).

  • The water in the landscape is reminiscent of both Lake Michigan in our local context and the waters of baptism.

  • The three fish swimming are in a circular pattern symbolizing the Trinity and Jesus' early ministry among fishermen. One of the fish is hidden under the water, symbolizing the mystery of God, whom we can never contain within our understanding.

  • The sunrise colors over the water symbolize the new day inviting all to turn from dead ends and selfishness and to join God’s family today, receiving healing and forgiveness, and living lives of joy and generosity and collaboration with God’s good ways.

The folk art style of these icons are inspired by quilt patterns that are created among Anabaptist communities.  The patterns become a visual metaphor for “Unity in Diversity.”  These quilt patterns are reminiscent of building up a strong and beautiful community through cooperation and harmony.

Reba Place Church is a community grounded in the radical and refreshing life of Jesus. We seek to understand and follow his fearlessly loving ways in this present-day moment. Encountering Jesus is more than learning information or agreeing to a creed. It’s growing in a relationship with God -- God who cares enough about us to experience human life as we do... God who provides healing and forgiveness and a fresh start when we need it… God who invites us to join the work of building a just and peaceful and loving world for all.

Reba Place Church is affiliated with the Mennonite Church USA. MC USA is part of the Anabaptist movement which began in sixteenth century Europe as Christians attempted to realize the fullness and vitality of the church envisioned in the New Testament. As contemporary Anabaptists we are declaring our continuity with a Christian tradition that separated the church from state control, refused to practice violence, and emphasized the vision of church as a Jesus-centered community. We actively collaborate with God to build a resilient peace that transforms our own hearts and the world as well, for the benefit of everyone. See our complete statement of faith.