Like so many tourist to the Big Apple I was mezmerized by her artistic mosaics. In fact its a little know fact that one of the largest art gallery’s in the country isn’t found in a museum but rather beneath the streets of New York City, her subway. Its 700 miles of gallery floor space open 365 days of the year, 24 hours a day is unapproachable by any other man made museum. The mosaics were first formed from the vision of the early city panners in New York as part of the “City Beautiful” movement.

What’s most startling to onlookers like myself is that in places that many consider to be the dirtiest, lest safe places in the country lie spectaculor artistic pieces who’s every tile wow’s the passerby’s. Admist the grim and grunge of the sewer, sorry meant to say subway, lies a message far richer than most of us are able to appreciate.

These subway mosaics remind me of another surprising treasure we can find if we just open our eyes, the early Christians use and application of the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament). Amdist the local cultural color of the times, in between the exegetical habits and histories lay the peculiar community latter known as ‘Christians’ who read anceint scriptures anew all because of the pattern of their dead, and recently claimed resurrected, Lord. One of my favorite NT biblical scholars tries to express just how these early Christians read their bibles. Here’s his summary;

“What these preachers were conscious of, however was interpreting the Scriptures from a Christocentric perspective, in conformity with the exegetical teaching and example of Jesus, and along Christological lines. In their exegesis there is the interplay of Jewish presuppositions and practices, on the one hand, and Christian commitments and perspectives, on the other, which produced a distinctive interpretation of the Old Testament.” (Biblical Exegesis in the Apostolic Period by Richard Longenecker)

These early Christians took the discarded and bruised stories of an Israel without a home, broken pieces of hope and history that seemed to have ended in death rather than life, and found a new way in Christ resurrection from the dead to form a mosaic that brought meaning and fulfillment to all their cares and concerns. God in His Son fulfilled all things. They were able to do this all because Jesus had gone before them to and did this very thing. Christ is good at making sense of things, and of doing this in the most unexpected places and times. In the damp, dark, smellyness of our human nature he came to fulfill the shattered story we had been given by the Father to fulfill.

The nature of holy scripture has been discussed in so many ways, perhaps another fitting metaphor may be its ‘mosaic’ quality…