Before churches had stained glass, there were two ways the church would decorate and—more importantly—tell the stories of the Bible (and the church) in pictures. The first was primarily on the wall and ceilings, and that was paintings. The second was primarily on the floor, but also sometimes on walls, and was mosaics.
Many ancient sites were discovered to be churches often because of the mosaics. As they were made of stone and/or ceramic, they would withstand dirt, mud, and being buried. If you have the chance to check out YouTube, you should be able to find videos where you can watch archaeologists unbury and then restore the beautiful mosaics to their former glory (in time-lapse, of course). Symbolic of we humans restored by the blood of Christ from messy and dirty (and buried in death and sin) to the beauty of God’s child.
As an art form, mosaics are often made from broken pottery and put into a larger picture. Whether it is the church, humanity as a whole, or Creation as a whole, they are made up of smaller pieces that are often broken or damaged and are a beautiful bigger picture. One could even say that each is greater than the sum of its pieces.
Within the respective circles of church, humanity, and Creation, there is a cycle of death, birth, and growth. The psalmist says that God makes the face of the earth new again (Psalm 104:30). The cycle of life is both renewal and change. Nothing is ever quite the same.
Through Joel, God tells the people that things will be good again in regard to land, crops, security. Even so, underlying that is the reality that things will never be exactly the same. Things certainly won’t be as they were in David’s and Solomon’s time (especially as David and Solomon’s time would have grown into mythic proportions).
The relationship between the people and God would be restored. The Promised Land would be restored. The people’s place in the Promised Land would be restored. Still, things would not be exactly the same. Other prophets also told the people that they would be restored, but it would be different and in a good way.
Jesus’ advent was even more so a new way of things that the world needed to adjust to (and is still adjusting to). With Jesus’ departure, the coming Holy Spirit would change things all the more. People had had their roles to play. Some were moved by the Holy Spirit. This new coming, however, was different. Roles were one thing (still are), but gifts were a new thing.
What makes a gift “spiritual” versus “natural” or “trained”? Do you know which spiritual gifts you have? If so, what are they, and what are they doing? If not, ask God to guide you in searching, that you may have a greater effect for the kingdom (Don’t worry. It can take time.)
Lord, may we be renewed and empowered to do your will. Amen.