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.
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.