Sepphoris, Nazareth, Megiddo, Caesarea Maritima… Today was a day filled with beautiful mosaics at every place we stopped. Some of them were thousands of years old at the archaeological sites. In an ancient synagogue we saw a blending of Canaanite, Jewish, and Hellenistic images in the floor of the place of worship. In Nazareth at the Church of the Annunciation we saw modern depictions of Mary, mother of our Lord, from all over the world. The level of detail in those works of art was staggering.
A mosaic is made with different materials with different colors and textures. Some pieces of the mosaics we viewed were imported and traveled many leagues to find their place in those masterpieces. Some of the pieces were made from common gravel, some were simply broken pieces of tiles, glass, or pottery… Art created from the cast off refuse, the garbage of thousands of years ago.
We looked at the Dionysius mosaic which is called the Mona Lisa of the Galilee. Centered at the bottom is a portrait of a beautiful woman with a wispy look about her that draws your eye and makes you wonder who she was. Carefully shaded, her portrait is so detailed that it doesn’t seem to be a mosaic at all. Someone pointed out that to achieve that level of detail, to approximate reality that closely, the artist would have to make the fragments smaller and smaller. Big pieces would be shattered into mere specks for eyelashes and lips.
Our group here is like those mosaic pieces. We have been brought together from far and wide. Almost six decades separate the youngest and the oldest. We are a rarity here. We are a minority. The Artist has brought us here to become a part of something beautiful. We find ourselves mixed in with the people of this side of the world and we find that, in spite of differences in language and dress, we are far more alike than different. Each one of us adds a new color to the palette for the Artist to create a new masterpiece. Sometimes in order to see the picture more clearly, the Artist must reduce us, already broken and fragmented, to the humblest of specks.
The good news is that even the refuse, even the smallest, most humble speck, will play a vital part in the masterpiece of God’s creation. No one is left out of God’s plan. I realized today looking at those mosaics that there are no insignificant specks… There are no insignificant people. Every single one is a critical part of the masterpiece being recreated from the shattered refuse of this world. Even the least among us have a vital part to play. In fact, it turns out that it is the smallest specks that provide the exceptional details that bring a mosaic to life. It is the seemingly most humble pieces of this world that God uses in the transformation that takes broken, fragmented people and, through Christ, recreates something miraculous from our shattered lives. Looking at the guns, the guard towers, and the miles of razor wire trying to keep each piece separate, I find my hope and peace in the assurance that the Artist is here with us, making even the smallest, even the most isolated piece fit right where it belongs in this unfolding masterpiece.
Charlie Pratt is a student at Union Presbyterian Seminary.