Comfort Food

Comfort Food

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.

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