In the city of Nazareth stands a glorious church called Church of the Annunciation. This is the place, where history tells us, Mary first heard the news that she was with child. The church is built over the cave that is believed to be the home of Mary. It is really cool to go and look within this ancient dwelling place. Yet the beauty for me wasn’t the cave, but the art that lines the exterior walls and interior of the church.
There are mosaics from differing people groups from every corner of the earth. Each mosaic is at least 15-feet tall and depicts the unique culture of that country. For example, when you gaze upon the Chinese piece, it depicts mother Mary with the baby Jesus dressed in traditional Chinese garments and faces that look Chinese. Further down, Ethiopia is an explosion of blues as Mary holds a toddler Jesus, who happens to look African, in traditional African wear. A depiction from Slovenia sparkles with gold, as Mary holds the infant Jesus, who happens to look…you guessed it…Caucasian!
There is a beauty in the experience of walking through the works of art—each culture sees Jesus like themselves! Now, we know that Jesus was a Middle Eastern man and wouldn’t look Caucasian, African or Asian! Yet it seems to make sense all the same. In the intimacy of our faith, we look through the lens of our self and see ourselves looking back. It makes it feel real and personal.
Of course, the challenge is when we miss the point and have the silly squabbles about whose Jesus (or Mary) is the right one. This is where the disunity erupts and the need to be right takes over the need to be one. When you read these scriptures, what does Jesus look like to you? Short or tall? Handsome or rugged? The key is to allow the mosaic of Jesus to reflect all of our views!