I clearly remember the first time I saw a mosaic portrait in real life.Of course, I’ve long been familiar with simple mosaics. There were the tile floors I helped my dad grout, and the bathroom walls of a favorite coffee shop studded with bits of broken china. I had sewn colored squares of fabric into the mosaic of a quilt or stitched a myriad tiny x’s to make a cross-stitch pattern. I once taught an overview class on mosaics to 7th and 8th graders, which concluded with making our own of tiny pieces of colored paper on black poster board to line the school cafeteria walls. But on this day, I knew that I had previously known next to nothing about mosaics in comparison to the piece of art before my eyes.I was drawn to the portrait because, unlike the oil paintings around it, it shimmered with light. That was the only difference from any distance. I actually thought it was a painting until I walked up to it and read the placard beneath, which identified it as a mosaic—and it was only then that I looked closely and realized that what had appeared to be a painting was really a myriad tiny pieces of glass painstakingly composed into the tender likeness of a mother and her child. It was Mary, cradling the baby Jesus, of course; a truly breathtaking masterpiece.
What an appropriate medium for such a daunting subject, I thought. How, after all, does an artist depict the faces of people we have no actual likeness of? Perhaps a thousand tiny beautiful pieces is the best way, because when you think about the birth of Christ, it is indeed a figurative mosaic of epic proportions and complex plot.Hundreds of prophecies over thousands of years, each piece coming together flawlessly in the grand unveiling of God’s masterpiece plan to save mankind.
Secular decrees by pagan emperors made so that at the perfect time and place, a baby born in a stable to a God-favored mother and the God-fearing man who would fill the role of earthly father, from exactly the right kingly lines.
At the perfect time, in exactly the right place in the sky, a star appearing to be seen by exactly the right men who understood that it was not just any star, an epiphany so definite they would traverse the deserts to find the source of such celestial celebration.
Angel messengers. Angel hosts. Angels in dreams.
A miraculously-conceived yet-unborn infant leaping in his mother’s womb in the presence of the Christ he would pave the way for.
The list could go on and on.So many intricate pieces. Such flawless, artful and epic execution. But the thing that really floors me is this:
God is still crafting that mosaic. Christmas was only the beginning of the greatest story of all time! And it doesn’t even end at Easter. It hasn’t ended yet. What we see is stunning, masterful, breathtaking…but yet incomplete. There are yet prophecies waiting to be fulfilled, trumpets waiting to sound, hearts and battles waiting to be won before it can be framed and signed by the artist.
And if you have let Him win your heart, you get to be a piece of that mosaic. Yes, YOU, like a shimmering little piece of glass, skillfully shaped and precisely placed into that epic Christmas mosaic that stretches back through the corridors of time. You, a mosaic within a mosaic, all the pieces and parts of you forming a life that can matter a lot and shine bright in the grandest scheme of things—if you have faith and are willing.“But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ
—by grace you have been saved—
and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus…
For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:4-8, 10)Photos: beneath the Ghost Bridge, Lake Superior, December 2018