Day 8 - Chapter 8 - Were there Women Disciples?

Women followed Jesus?  Yes, Luke tells us that in addition to Mary Magdalene, Joanna and Suzanna were a part of the group following Jesus.  Joanna was the wife of Chuza, who was a steward of Herod Antipas.  Interesting?  Jesus had pulled some evil spirits from her, and she became a believer and followed him.  Jesus had commanded seven evil spirits to leave Mary Magdalene.  

Suzanna is only known to us in this chapter.  We know that she also had evil spirits.  All three women became faithful followers of Christ, and Joanna and Suzanna used their own financial resources to support the cause.  They are called generous donors.

Jesus was being followed by multitudes of people.  What number is a multitude?  We don’t know!  His ministry was growing, and although I have difficulty understanding the parables sometimes, the fact that Jesus spoke in parables makes sense!  Jesus tried to explain the Word in a method that correlated to daily life.  If people cannot comprehend what is being said, why say it?

The parable of the seeds is all about what happens to (the seeds) people who learn, but don’t carry through with their faithful beliefs.   The Devil carries them off, or they revert to their old ways.  The good seed takes root and grows.

Jesus also talks about not hiding the light.  Remember that song, This Little Light of Mine?  It was actually written in the 1920s by Harry Dixon Loes, a student at the Moody Bible Institute.   Yes, it was adapted during the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s and mistakenly thought to be a Negro spiritual. 

Jesus calms the storm while in the boat on the Sea of Galilee. The disciples are amazed at that power.  He pulls numerous demons from a man.  There are so many demons, that they call themselves “Legion”.   Jesus raises a little girl from the dead, and by merely touching Jesus’ garment, a woman who had hemorrhaged for 12 years was healed.  Scholars believe this was menstrual bleeding, because for 12 years, the woman was considered unclean.  Wow. 

My take-away from this chapter? Thank God for giving modern medicine the ability to resolve Menorrhagia. As I read about women, from whom Jesus pulled demons, I have to consider the various kinds of mental issues women face related to the hormonal changes in our bodies. Think of the horrible events in modern times of women taking the lives of their little children.

Certain medical conditions can cause mental issues, and sometimes that condition has an easy fix. In the work I do now, I am frequently learning of the horrible impact a seemingly simple urinary tract infection can have on the elderly. A UTI can cause agitation and confusion; hallucinations; delusions; and paranoia. It is amazing.

We are living in a world (or perhaps we have always lived in this kind of word, but 24/7 media coverage makes us think it is a new thing) where mental illness is being ignored all too often. If you see the signs, do something about it … in the young and the old.

That is certainly part of my take-away: God has given us the knowledge and the abilities to deal with mental illness, and we need to be attentive to that. Jesus cast out demons, but he didn’t destroy them. Scholars question that, but many say it was simply to prove the point that the demons continued to tempt the people. They continue to tempt us today.

Let’s Cook!

Everybody knows about Angel Food Cake and Devil’s Food Cake! I want you to make this Root Beer Chocolate Cake! Follow this link for the recipe.

Luke Chapter: 7 Mary Magdalene, Who?

The 7th chapter of Luke may seem to be just filled with more stories of Jesus healing people and bringing some back from death.   He heals the servant of a Roman soldier – the Centurion. If that seems strange, it may seem even more strange that Luke describes the soldier as one who is a good man who believes in the things Jesus is doing.  He brings a widow’s only son back to life right from his funeral procession!   The ministry of Jesus had already included lots of similar events.  Those were miracles to all who observed them … and told the stories over and over. 

In this chapter, though, Luke puts heavy focus on the sinful woman who came to wash the feet of Jesus.  It is possible that this woman was Mary Magdalene.  Many believe that Mary Magdalene was a prostitute, which made her approach to Jesus even more important.   She goes to him in complete humility, admitting her sins, attesting to her love of Christ.  Jesus forgives her sins.  There is no Biblical text that defines Mary Magdalene as a prostitute.  This is something that was “created” long after she walked with the disciples, following Jesus.  Here again, Luke recognizes the significance of a woman. 

Luke leaves us with a big question in our minds, as we read this chapter.  John the Baptist sent a couple of his followers to question Jesus.  They told Jesus that John wanted to know if He was in fact the Messiah.  The implication is that John questioned the fact that Jesus hadn’t bailed him out of his mess with Herod and his imprisonment.  There are Bible scholars who believe the timing of John’s beheading and Jesus’ crucifixion is misrepresented in the Gospels.  Had Jesus already been crucified and resurrected prior to John’s death?  Other scholars suggest that God doesn’t always relieve us from our misfortunes, therefore John had to deal with his.  This is a question I will have when I get to Heaven, unless Daddy sends me an answer sooner!  He and I certainly had this debate more than a few times … just as we debated the notion that Mary Magdalene was more to Jesus than a follower! 

I’ll leave you with those two tidbits!

My take-away from this chapter is that it is absolutely ok for us to not understand everything that happens during our life’s journey.  I’ll mention again that I was taught from early childhood that everything that happens in life was planned by God at the beginning of time.  That is a huge concept, but I don’t doubt it.  I was also taught that everything that happens in life, happens for a reason.  If I ever doubted that, and I don’t remember a time when I doubted that, I certainly believe it now.  I have lived long enough to become wise and it is clear to me that some of my experiences that might not have been perfectly comfortable … have led to things that were indeed incredibly positive.  I also believe that I still have time to have experiences that will further confirm that concept.

Let’s Cook!

I’ve mentioned my dad in a couple of my blog posts about Luke!  My parents were good Bible teachers, but my dad was especially good with children.  He taught junior high boys in Sunday School for many years, and in the opening of each Sunday morning, all classes spent some time together.  I was proud of my dad always, but one of the best things I ever heard him tell was this story:
“We want you to come to Sunday School no matter what.  If you think your clothes aren’t nice enough, know that we don’t care and we’ll help you get some new clothes.  If you don’t have transportation to get here, tell us and somebody will pick you up and bring you.  If you think you need a hair cut, tell us and we’ll get you one from our church member barber!”   The best part of his brief message was this, “When I was a little boy, my family didn’t have any money.  I was invited to Sunday School and the first time I went, I had a nickel to put in the offering.  The second time I went, I had another nickel to put in.  The third Sunday I went, I didn’t have any money to put in the offering and the teacher asked me where was my money.  I didn’t go to Sunday School for the 4th time.”   Daddy went on to tell all the kids that they didn’t need money to put in the offering … they should just come to Sunday School.   I have inherited his story-telling gene, and I am blessed! 

He loved pie … all kinds of pie!

Easy Impossible Buttermilk Pie

Please follow this link to the recipe on my blog!

Luke: Chapter 6 - Blessed are ... Woe to ...

Sermon on the Mount - Carl Bloch

Most of us have learned the Beatitudes, presented by Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount.  Luke presents them a little differently than Matthew.  Luke includes the good things, then he mentions the not so good … the “haves and the have-nots”!  In the first four, he addresses those who are without. 

Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.
Blessed are you who hunger now, for you will be satisfied.
Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh.
Blessed are you when people hate you, when they exclude you and insult you and reject your name as evil, because of the Son of Man.

When we are without, we are most likely to seek God’s word.  When Joe died, I looked to the scripture to find solace.  I honestly didn’t find it, and I certainly was not blessed by the knowledge that even though I was weeping, I would laugh later.   What I did find was the instruction to get back to normal and continue to do what I was supposed to be doing.

Then Luke mentions the next four in a little different way.  In these second four, he addresses the people who already have plenty. 

Woe to you who are rich, for you have already received your comfort.
Woe to you who are well fed now, for you will go hungry.
Woe to you who laugh now, for you will mourn and weep.
Woe to you when everyone speaks well of you, for that is how their ancestors treated the false prophets.

We’ve all known people who fit these categories.  Sometimes we fit these categories ourselves and have to remind ourselves that life is filled with hills and valleys.   We often talk of Karma, but we are usually talking about Karma hitting somebody else, not ourselves!  Maybe we should rethink that!  Don’t laugh now, unless you are ready to weep later!  Your time will come.  That is simply life.

If we are lucky, our friends who fit these second four categories share their good fortune!  I have a good farmer friend who shared his abundance of garden produce with me last summer.  I found myself passing it forward by delivering it to a senior citizen center in a town where there isn’t a grocery store.  I have another friend who is considerably wealthy.  She gives plenty of her money away to take care of family and friends.  My daddy always said that “charity is silent” meaning the gifts we give should be given anonymously.  She is that way.  People who are constantly praised, need to share that praise with the folks who helped them along their life’s journey. 

This 6th chapter of Luke is filled with instruction on leading a Christian life.  “Love your enemies.”  “Don’t be judgmental.”  One of the scriptures reminds me so much of my husband, Joe.  “Lend and don’t expect repayment.”   Joe used to say that he never made a loan of money to an employee, especially never to student workers!  He would give them the money they needed and tell them not to worry about it!  His philosophy was based on the experience that you never get that money back anyway … but just as much upon the fact that the borrower doesn’t need to be burdened with the need to repay!

Jesus had chosen all twelve of his disciples in this chapter.  He makes a statement about students not being above the teacher, but once they have learned the lesson, they are equal to the teacher.  He is instructing his disciples to get out on their own and teach the lessons they have learned.

My take-away from this chapter is so simple.  If we all followed the instructions of the Beatitudes, the world would be a better place.  I want to always surround myself with friends and family who live their lives that way, but I never want to miss the opportunity to reach out to folks who don’t live that way.  People can change.  They don’t always, but they can.

I continue to grieve for a lost husband, and that is a burden that after eight years, I deal with daily.   At the same time, I do my best to be positive and share happiness with others.  I am super glued to a grand daughter ... and I seize the opportunity to work with groups of senior citizens (am I one of those people now?) and spread a little goodness in their midst. 

Let’s Cook – And Share It!

This time of year, people share food gifts.  We should really do that all year long, but it is more common during Christmastime!  I’m not sharing a recipe with you, but instead, encouraging you to search my blog for “cookies”.  You’ll find a few recipes that you might want to try!  Spread some kindness by sharing a cookie try with friends and family!

Luke: Chapter 5 - Time to Start Fishing

Jesus begins to gather his disciples in this 5th chapter of Luke.  Finally!  Jesus goes to Simon Peter, who had been fishing in the Sea of Galilee and had caught nothing, and asked him to take his boat back out into the water.  Jesus was going to teach from the boat, but he asked Simon Peter to drop his nets.  Peter explained that they had fished all night and caught nothing, but in respect to Jesus, he would drop the nets.  The nets filled so full … overflowing … that Peter had to call for a second boat to come to help haul the fish back to the shore.  Simon Peter wept, knelt and told Jesus that he was just a lowly sinner.  Jesus told him to get up and get ready to become a “fisher of men”!  I always loved that children’s song, “I will make you fishers of men!”    James and John were Simon’s partners, and they joined in following Jesus, leaving behind everything that they had.

This chapter includes telling of the miracles of Jesus healing the leper and causing the paralyzed man to walk. Significant in the healing of the leper is the fact that Jesus reached out and touched him.  That was unheard of in that time.   One of my childhood Sunday School classrooms had a picture of the men lowering the paralyzed man down through the roof so he would be seen by Jesus.  They couldn’t carry him though the crowd.  I remember asking my mother why the man couldn't walk.  Little did we know that I would have a long happy marriage with a pretty special man who couldn't walk.

Jesus used the paralyzed man somewhat as a visual representation of repenting of our sins.  My paraplegic husband hated this Bible story because Jesus told the man he was forgiven of his sins, so he could rise and walk.  Joe always said he’d like to know what sins he had committed to put him in a car wreck at age 12 that would kill several children and leave him paralyzed.   I suspect that when Joe reached Heaven, he and Jesus might have had a strong conversation about that.

Jesus recruited another disciple, Levi.  Levi, who we later knew as Matthew, was a tax collector and was from a family of tax collectors!  Tax collectors were disliked.  Levi jumped at the invitation to follow Jesus.  He later hosted a party so Jesus and the disciples could meet his friends and colleagues.  Jesus and the disciples ate and drank at this event, and this is where some trouble began.

The Pharisees began asking why Jesus and his followers would do this.  Why did they not pray and worship by fasting?  Why did they not follow the customary rules of the time regarding fasting?
Jesus answered with two parables.  The first was to describe patching an old garment with new cloth.  As the new cloth shrank, it would cause the old garment damage.  The second was to say that you cannot put new wine in an old wine skin.  As the new wine fermented, it would cause the old skin to break.

The meaning of both parables was pretty simple.  Jesus was bringing a new kind of religion.  His Word was different than the old message of the Hebrews.  He needed to stress that fact to these old believers.

The part of this account that I like best is when Jesus is asked why he was hanging out with Levi, a bad guy and his bad guy friends!  Jesus told him that his message was for everybody.  It was for sinners.   I love this part so much because our church had a minister when I was a teenager that did exactly this.  On Saturday evenings, he would visit our little town’s taverns!  He would invite the folks in the bars to come to church the next day.  Many did and over time they joined our church and raised their families in church.  Not long ago, one of those men died, and it made me ponder the changes in his life.  I first knew him as somebody to stay away from and later knew him as a Christian father and grandfather. 

My take-away is the same message that I preached to my husband many times.  I don't believe that God punishes us for things we've done wrong.  I think God loves us, forgives us and allows us to repent.  I answered Joe's question many times in 35 years.  God did not cause a carload of little boys on a Sunday School outing to be hit head on by a drunk driver, leaving 6 people dead.  I was always proud of my husband for doing everything he could do to rise above those fears and live a normal Christian life.

Let’s Cook!

I love to recreate historic meals!  I don’t think we can find out what Levi (Matthew) served at his party, though.  I’m encouraging you to skip dinner and snack all evening!  Make up your own menu in recognition of this historic event!   I’ll share one of my favorite recipes with you and if you follow this link, you’ll see how I make Hummus with red beans instead of  the typical garbanzo beans! 

Link to Recipe

Red Bean Hummus

Luke: Chapter 4 That Devil!

Wow! The 4th chapter of Luke is a killer! I’ve read it more than a few times and the negativity is frightening. And, it should be.

Jesus was baptized. He walked among us and did what we needed to do. In this chapter, Jesus was really experiencing what others were experienced.

After His baptism, Jesus was left in the desert without food or water for 40 days. Lost, literally and spiritually. The Devil approached Jesus and tempted Him three times. The one we remember best is the Devil’s suggestion that Jesus turn a stone into a loaf of bread. Jesus told him that “Man does not live by bread alone”. After being unsuccessful, the Devil left Jesus … waiting to return at a more opportune time. Remember that.

After averting Satan, Jesus goes to His people and begins preaching. He goes to Nazareth and reads in the temple, as he had done before. Jesus read from the prophesies of Isaiah and simply said that God had sent Him to preach the gospel to poor people; to heal the brokenhearted; to set captives free; to help the blind see (moral and spiritual blindness); and to grant liberty to people who are oppressed. He made two important points. He told the people that Isaiah was talking about HIM. He told the people that the time for all this to happen was NOW. This message wasn’t well received, and his audience attempted to run him out of town. Jesus slipped away.

Later in the chapter, we read of Jesus casting out a demon. There was no lengthy exorcism rite like we see in movies! Jesus simply told the demon to be quiet and to leave the man. The demon did!

It is in this chapter where Luke tells the story of Jesus having healed Simon Peter’s mother-in-law, causing a fever to leave her and returning to her the strength she needed.

Jesus finally found a quiet place where he could be alone, and he went to that place.

My take-away from this chapter is multi-faceted! If you don’t believe that the Devil is real, turn on the evening news. He is ever present. If you have never encountered the Devil in one of life’s situations, good for you! I have. Professionally, I have dealt with people … one in particular … who was without question filled with the spirit of the Devil. She still is. She is at her best satanic self when her targets are vulnerable.

If you don’t believe in demons, talk to people who work in psychiatric hospitals. The demons their patients need to control are very real.

If temptation doesn’t seem possible to you. Just think back upon your life’s choices. Was there ever a time when you almost made the wrong choice?

I think my favorite part of this chapter is the description of Jesus needing a quiet place, time to Himself. The Son of God needed private time. I’d say it is ok for us to need that private time, too! Make time for yourself. Make time for prayer, worship, reflection. We are healthier for it.

Let’s Cook!

I'm not going to share a recipe with you, but encourage you to search my blog for "bread"! You will find numerous wonderful recipes to try. Bread-making is therapeutic! It is my quiet time!

Luke: Chapter 3 - Symbolic Jordan River

The Baptism of Christ - Leonardo Da Vinci

John the Baptist finally reaches the age to begin his ministry in Chapter 3. His message is straightforward! He told his listeners that he could baptize them with water, but that the Messiah was coming, and that Christ would Baptist them in the Holy Spirit. That would surely have been confusing to those who didn’t have an inkling of ancient prophesies! But to those who did understand, this message was long awaited word. John the Baptist told the people that if they had “two coats, give one away to somebody who needs it” … be charitable. He told the tax collectors/politicians to be honest and not steal more tax than they were entitled to. He told the soldiers to do their jobs, but to be kind and not accusatory of the innocent. Did these changes and these deeds lead them down the path to salvation? John told them that it was time to change their ways so Christ could change the world for all mankind.

John the Baptist baptized Jesus. Why was that important? I think the answer is simple: God had sent Jesus to walk among us. He was like us, so He needed to do what we needed to do. When Jesus was baptized, a dove appeared, and the heavens opened up. God had something to say at this point and told Jesus that He was his Son and that he was proud of His deeds. Can you imagine standing on the banks of the Jordan River and seeing that? I can, and I’ll tell you a little more about that in a few paragraphs!

It is important to point out that while John was preaching, he was also telling the people that Herod was evil. Herod Antipas was the son of Herod the Great. He ruled with his brothers and it was the fact that he took his half-brother’s wife (while he was married himself) that John the Baptist spoke of with scorn. That landed John the Baptist in prison. His execution followed.

Jesus, however, continued to preach, and many details of his ministry follow in the next chapters of Luke.

The genealogy of Jesus is listed as the end of chapter 3. It is slightly different than the genealogy listed in the Gospel of Matthew. Luke shows Joseph as the “supposed” father of Jesus but traces him all the way back to the beginning: Adam and then to God. Some believe that Luke was tracing back through Mary, while Matthew traced back through Joseph. Either way, the genealogy leads back to the beginning.

I have a great take-away from this chapter and it has to do with baptism. The meaning of baptism today isn’t any different than during the time of Jesus: person is fully immersed in water to rid them of their sins and to welcome them as sons of God, through faith. Many faiths sprinkle and don’t immerse, but the meaning remains the same.

Back to my question. Can you imagine standing on the banks of the River Jordan and seeing Jesus baptized and watching the heavens open up? I can.

Six months ago, I had the real privilege of being involved in the baptism of a tiny elderly lady who lived in the nursing facility where I work. My first instruction was to ask to get a picture of the event, but I quickly became more involved. It took a few of us to figure out a safe and dignified way of lowering her into a big spa tub in a private part of our facility, so she could be immersed. When I met her minister, I was a little surprised by his story! He never dreamed that we would do this in the facility. One of our wonderful nurses had agreed to “make it happen” and the minister was still baffled. I was thrilled to be a part of this and only hoped that our resident, at age 93, actually knew what was happening.

So our tiny little lady, dressed in a pretty gown, leaned slightly in the tub and her minister and our wonderful nurse gently guided her head under the water. As the baptism phrase came out of the minister’s mouth, I began to cry while I snapped a few pictures. When the baptism was completed, she smiled and I could tell she had found a new kind of peace. She passed away three months later.

As a child, I was taught to respect the ritual of baptism, even before I understood what it was really about. I was seven when I was baptized and I fully comprehended the meaning at that time. I’ve witnessed many baptisms, of course including my own daughter’s. I have never experienced what I experienced a few months ago in the spa room at our nursing facility. I would not have been surprised had doves filled the room. I had my own River Jordan experience.

Let’s Cook!

My writing about the River Jordan makes me think about Tilapia! The Jordan holds a great deal of symbolism. Folk music and old spirituals often refer to the Jordan with the meaning of freedom, clearly because of the journey of the Israelites. I like to think all that is derived from the fact that John baptized in the Jordan, bring folks to a spiritual freedom.

The River Jordan flows into or through the Sea of Galilee and Tilapia is an ancient fish that is believed to have first been found there. We raise and eat lots of Tilapia in the United States, but there is evidence that it was first raised in 1500 BC. The Tomb of Nakht includes this relief with Tilapia just above the head of the man.

It is believed the fish Jesus multiplied for the 5,000 ... was Tilapia! The fish that Jesus told Peter to go catch ... because it would have a coin in its mouth and Peter could pay the temple tax ... was Tilapia!

I love Tilapia because it absorbs the flavors of whatever you put with it. I never feel like I've had enough to eat when I eat fish, so I 

make sure to serve something substantial with it. For this dish, I served myself farro, something else that is "ancient"! If you try this ancient grain, make sure you buy pearled farro. It cooks much faster than the whole grain.

Seared Tilapia with Lemon Caper Sauce

This recipe is so simple and the ingredients are haphazardly measured. You cannot make a mistake!

1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper
1/4 cup chopped sweet onion
2 Tablespoons capers
1/4 cup Kalamata of green olives
6 Tilapia fillets

Lemon Juice
Olive Oil

Lightly flour the fish and gently sear it in a big drizzle of olive oil. While the fish is cooking, add the onion and bell pepper to the skillet and let it sear. Turn the fish one time and when it is done, remove it from the skillet. Add the capers and olives and a splash of lemon juice. The flour that fell off the fish into the oil ... and is remaining in the skillet ... will thicken the sauce after the lemon juice is added. Stir the sauce and serve it right over the fish.

You need to serve this with a grain ... whatever you like ... rice, couscous or my favorite farro. The grain balances the tart flavor of the sauce.


Luke: Chapter 2 - He is Finally Here!

The second chapter of Luke unveils the details of the birth of Christ.  He details the Nativity, but spends lots of words describing what came next.  Seems to me that Luke features Bible characters that don't get as much attention in other parts of the Bible ... especially women.

Jesus was born, and 40 days later when the time came for Jesus to be presented in the temple, and for Mary to have her purification ceremony, Mary and Joseph took the baby to Jerusalem.  During Passover each year after, they visited the temple again and this chapter ends with Jesus sitting with the teachers at age 12.

My take-away from this second chapter is to re-emphasize the fact that at the time Jesus was presented at the temple when he was slightly over a month old … there was a very important woman present … and she isn’t always mentioned in the story telling. 

Jesus was presented and a man named Simeon came forward to hold the baby.  We are taught that Simeon was a “good and just” man.  He announces that this baby is Jesus, who will offer salvation to mankind.  What isn’t always taught is that Simeon was a scribe ... one of the men who translated the books of the Old Testament, and when he encountered the ancient prophesies that “a baby would be born of a virgin” and that the child would be the Messiah, Simeon questioned what he was reading.  God told him that he was reading it correctly and that he would let him live long enough to see the birth of this child.  There Simeon stood, holding that special baby, realizing that his communication with God years before … had come to pass. Simeon thanked God for allowing him this opportunity so he could die in peace.   

Then comes Anna!  She was a prophetess and was from the tribe of Asher.  Her father’s name was Phanuel, translated to mean “Face of God”.  Anna was probably 105 years old at this time, and her husband had died just 7 years into their marriage.  She had been a widow for a very long time, and she had spent all those 80 plus years praying and worshiping in the temple.  She looked at this baby and she immediately knew she was looking at Jesus Christ, Immanuel, the Savior.  Her announcement was a little different than Simeon’s.  She talked directly to people who she knew already believed this was going to happen and who had been waiting … as she had been waiting.  She thanked God for the child.

Anna is an important woman, one of just a few people mentioned in the New Testament as having come from one of the lost tribes.  She is the only female prophet mentioned.  She believed in the power of prayer. She knew that fasting and worshiping generated results. She was incredibly devout in her religious practices.  She lived at the temple.

I had a fifth grade Sunday School teacher who knew how important Anna was to this story.  She was also a public school teacher and I suspect that important women in history were discussed in her classroom.  (Yes, I grew up when women in history were still being ignored.)  When she shared this story with us, she explained what the purification of Mary was all about.  Oh my, those topics were taboo in many households, including my own!  She also stressed the importance of Anna.  I remember thinking as she talked, that we had a lady like Anna working in our church nursery.  She wasn’t a prophetess by any means, but she spent lots of time in the church, working on projects, worshiping and praying.  She had never married, had no children of her own and still lived with her aging parents. She had a little bit of a learning disability, which was never addressed.  Her name was Frances.  My family loved her.

A few years ago, I was meeting in the church talking with our minister planning my own husband’s funeral, when he was also planning the funeral service for Frances.  He asked me what I knew about her because he didn’t know her well.  I told him if all he said was … “She greeted each new baby born into this church family as if it were her own.  She held them and rocked them and sang to them.  She loved them and they grew to love her back.”   I told him that when my Nicole was born, she held her and cried and told me how much she looked like I had looked when I was a new baby.  She looked at Nicole and told her she would be smart, just like her mama.   I simply will never forget the Anna in our church nursery and in our lives.  She saw the face of God in every child she held.  Every child had a purpose that she knew was already planned by God.  Every child was a blessing.  I'm pretty sure that when Francis finally saw the real face of God, he said "job well done".

The Biblical meaning of the name Francis/Frances is "God is my judge" and the meaning of the name Anna is "Grace".  I'm sure that both these women fulfilled the meaning of their names!

As you read this second chapter, think of the women in your life who might have been like my Frances.  A woman who, for generations, gave to others.  

Let's Cook!

I simply cannot talk about important women in my life without including my mother in the conversation.  She was a much better grandmother than a mother!  Yes, I said that.  She was mellow with her grandchildren.  She was strict with her children!  She taught me lots of things "not to do" as a mother!  She was an entirely different woman in her role as Grandma!

Chicken and Dumpling Sundays were a big deal at our house.  She would usually stew her chicken on Saturday and then reheat the broth very early on Sunday morning ... and she would put all the stewed chicken in the oven to put a little crisp skin on it.  She served it separate from the dumplings because my dad liked it that way.  He wasn't a fan of anything cooked in one pot ... and my dad's baby brother called anything cooked in one pot ... "Doris' German cooking"!

In yesterday's post, I shared the recipe for Angel Biscuits.  You can use packaged chicken stock and use the biscuit dough to make the dumplings.  Enjoy that shortcut!  

You can also stew your chicken with onion, celery and maybe a carrot for flavor.  Add lots of salt and pepper, a bay leaf, rosemary and any other seasoning you like in your broth.  I always use a pinch of saffron in mine.  That adds both flavor and color.

I'm sharing this simple, but long used recipe of my mama's ... and her mama's ... and her mama's.  It has been handed down through the generations of very hard working, religiously faithful women!

Rolled Dumplings 

Gently beat together 2 cups of all purpose flour, 1 egg and 1 cup of warm chicken stock.  Don't add boiling hot stock to this because it will scramble your egg.  Let the stock cool a bit before you add it.

On a  floured board, gently knead in a little extra flour until you can handle the dough. It will be warm and pliable. Carefully roll the dough to a thickness of about ¼ inch and cut into 2 inch squares.

I actually use a clean flour sack dish towel to roll my dumplings on!  You can take it outside and shake out the flour when you are done and throw it in the washing machine.

Drop the dumplings into simmering broth, cover and cook for 10 minutes.  Add the chicken meat back in after the dumplings are done.

Luke: Chapter 1

Annunciation, John William Waterhouse, 1914

In this first chapter, Luke gives us the details of the annunciation.  The angel Gabriel visits Zacharias and tells him that his wife Elizabeth will conceive and that the child should be named John.  A few months later, Gabriel visited with Mary and tells her that she will conceive and that her child shall be named Jesus. 

Zacharias was a priest, but when Gabriel talked with him it was clear that Zacharias didn’t believe him.  As a result, he was stricken mute.  Zacharias was praying in privacy in the temple, and a group of people had gathered outside to also pray.  Zacharias couldn’t share his experience with the followers … because he couldn’t talk.  Wow.  He had been told of a miracle … that he and Elizabeth would have a son and that his son would pave the way for Messiah.  He could not share the news that his son would be named John and that John would preach and share the news that the Messiah was coming.  His son, John, was the opening act for the Man who would secure all mankind.

Gabriel sure was a busy messenger of God.  Mary believed what he told her, but she questioned the way she would conceive, since she was a virgin.  Gabriel told her not to be concerned, that anything is possible when God is in charge.  Gabriel told her that her cousin, Elizabeth, an old woman who had been barren … had finally conceived.

Of course, Mary had to see that for herself, so she started the journey to visit Elizabeth.  As soon as Elizabeth saw Mary, she exclaimed that the baby in her own womb had jumped in excitement and acknowledgement of the news Mary was about to share news that Elizabeth already knew.

John is born in the first chapter of Luke.  When it was time to name him, leaders assumed his name would be Zacharias, after his father.  Elizabeth said “no”, we will name him John.  The leaders went right to Zacharias, who still could not speak, and asked him his opinion.  He took a tablet and wrote the name John.  As soon as he acknowledged that he was following God’s instructions, which had been delivered by Gabrial, Zacharias began to talk.  He shared this magnificent story with all who would listen and the news of the coming Messiah spread through the land.

The most important lesson we need to take away from the Gospel of Luke … obviously are the numerous details that lead up to the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus.  Therein lies our salvation.  However, I find numerous messages throughout the gospel that support my standards and lifestyle!  There are three themes that strike me as I ponder this first chapter of Luke.  Motherhood. Angels. Blind Faith.

Motherhood:  Expectant mothers, natural and adoptive, begin to worry the moment they know that a baby is coming!  With all the excitement and joy, there is a big dose of reality and responsibility!   Will I know how to take care of this child?  Will I be able to provide for this child?   These two women … one very old and the other very young … had been given responsibilities beyond belief.  Mary was going to raise a Son who would change the world for all mankind. Elizabeth was going to raise a son who would come first and set the stage for that change.  Indescribable responsibilities.

Angels:  I need to say that I believe in angels. I believe that God used … and continues to use … heavenly bodies to guide us through times when we need help … both as individuals and as a people.  We receive instruction and guidance in some way.  If it isn’t from a winged figure that appears when we least expect it, it is through a sort of telepathic messaging.  Sometimes when I have a hunch about something, I feel like I’m being fed a little special knowledge to help me form that hunch.  “God-wink” is the new term for that!  I’ll just stick to believing that my message is being whispered by an angel … or maybe one who loves me and is still protecting me even though they have passed on.

In teaching and living this first chapter of Luke, my primary focus would be on Gabriel!  After all, he is the guy that delivered God’s messages.  Without his messages, there is no story!   We have a beautiful angel on top of a very tall Christmas tree in the nursing home where I work.  The other day, I asked a few of the residents what that angel meant to them.  Half of them told me that the angels announced the birth of Jesus.  The other half told me that an angel told Mary she was going to have the Baby Jesus! 

When I was a young woman, I taught little children in Sunday School.  It is impossible to explain the virgin birth to a little child, but it is easy to talk about the angel that told Mary she would be a mother!  I can remember having a heated discussion at the Sunday dinner table, when my siblings were teenagers and I was a bit younger.  One proclaimed that there cannot be a virgin birth, and my Southern Baptist deacon daddy proclaimed that “with God, there can be anything”!   That was the end of the conversation!  Therein lies, blind faith.  We believe, and nobody needs to prove anything to us.  We simply believe.

My father taught me that everything is carved in stone from the beginning of time.  There is a reason for everything that happens in our lives.  I accepted that as a child, and now that I am older and wiser and can see why certain things have happened in my life, I surely believe that.  Blind faith.

So, celebrate the angel who visited Mary and encouraged her to have blind faith.  The part Gabriel played in the beginning of the story of the life of Christ cannot be underestimated!   Say thank you when you place the angel on top of your Christmas tree and whip up a batch of Angel Biscuits!  

They are called Angel Biscuits because they are light and airy (like any angel that flies around), but if they had a message to share, it would be “Celebrate this special season by sharing meals with family and friends”! Don't limit the use to biscuits, though. You can make doughnuts with it ... just fry them in oil and dredge them in cinnamon and sugar; turn it into pizza crust by pressing firmly in a pan using your fingers dipped in olive oil ... top it and bake it; use it for monkey bread ... savory or sweet; make herbed biscuits with it; turn larger portions into miniature loaves of bread; or roll it out and turn it into cinnamon rolls. Oh, and you can use it to top homemade chicken pie ... or drop portions into bubbling broth for delicious dumplings. ... and ... if you love fruit drop dumplings, it is perfect for that. Just drop small portions into lightly boiling fruit juice.

Angel Biscuits

Mix these three ingredients together and let it stand for 5 minutes, until the yeast bubbles:

2 packages dry yeast
½ cup warm water
2 Tablespoons sugar

Blend the oil and buttermilk together:

½ cup canola oil
2 cups buttermilk

Blend all the dry ingredients together:

5 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
¼ cup sugar

Now, mix all the ingredients together until you have a nice dough.  It might be a little bit sticky, but that is fine.  Put it in a large covered plastic container and refrigerate it overnight.  Pinch off the amount you want to bake;  roll and cut your biscuits;  place on a greased heavy pan;  bake at 425 degrees for 15 minutes.

To read other daily posts, go to "Gospel of Luke" page to follow the links.

Gospel of Luke Challenge!

I’ve accepted the challenge of reading the Gospel of Luke each day during December.  One chapter a day gives us a reading for each day leading up to Christmas.  During the reading of those 24 chapters, we learn everything we need to know about Jesus Christ.  We read of the annunciation; the birth of Christ; his ministry, death, resurrection and ascension.  That is everything a Christian need know … to understand why we are what we are!  I will be blogging daily about my interpretation of each chapter. 

Luke is the longest of the four gospels and the longest book in the New Testament.  It is traditionally believed to have been written by Luke, although he didn’t sign his work.  Luke was a friend of Paul and he traveled with Paul.  Luke was a learned man.  He was a physician. He was a scientific scholar who understood the culture of the time and who was well versed in the religious history.  He wrote in a novelistic style that was easily followed and understood.  He states clearly in the beginning of the first chapter that he is writing about things that other people witnessed and had shared.  He indicates that he is going to put all those facts in chronologic order so ‘common’ people and ‘learned’ people could understand.

Who were those people? There is a lot of conjecture about the audience of the Gospel of Luke.  Many believe that Luke was writing to Theophilos, but the uncertainty surrounds the identity of Theophilos.  In Greek, the name means “friend of God” or “loved by God”.  Some speculate that Theophilos was actually a title of a dignitary.   A real person?  A symbolic person representing all those loved by God?  I don’t know, but what I do know is that the Gospel of Luke is easily read, and for me the importance of each chapter is easily interpreted.   I hope you will accept this challenge and read along with me.  I also hope that you will enjoy my interpretations, my stories and the ways I plan to focus upon each chapter’s importance!  What is the Bible I we cannot translate the meaning and draw correlation to our everyday life.  On my blog, there must be food, so my interpretation will always include a recipe!

­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­I hope you follow my blog posts daily, but if you need to back track, you will find all the posts on the special page entitled “Gospel of Luke”. 

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