I once took a children’s group to Baylor University for their first archeology lesson. Bruce Cresson, a religion professor, talked to us about “digging up Israel.” He told us to think about how hard it is to put a 100-piece jigsaw puzzle together when some of the pieces are missing. Then Dr. Cresson challenged us to consider something even more impossible: “What if you had a hundred puzzles with 100 pieces each and they all got mixed up together? What do you do then? Imagine how long it takes to figure out which pieces belong together. That’s the kind of work our students do when we find hundreds of pieces from dozens of broken pots.”
We looked at some pots that the students had reassembled after grouping the pieces that belonged together. Even with the cracks—maybe especially with the cracks—these pots were beautiful. We realized that when a loving hand joined the old pieces together, powerful art could emerge once again. The beauty we saw didn’t come from restoring the pots to their original shape and appearance, but from helping them become new creations.
Jesus sits with his disciples looking at the temple and tells them about a time when the grand structure they see will break into thousands of pieces. This disturbing news astounds his followers, who want all the details. But Jesus directs the conversation away from the imposing structure’s future demise to the truth that God is always creating something new. This is but the beginning of the birth pangs (v. 8), says the one in whom we become a new creation.
Think of a time when something in your life broke into what seemed like a thousand pieces. What do you remember about the process of moving toward wholeness?
God, with your loving care, restore what is broken in me. Out of my grief and pain, birth something new. Amen.