As a Greek physician who traveled, studied, and preached with Paul, St. Luke left us a legacy of written words in both the Gospel According to Luke and Acts of the Apostles. Tradition holds that he died at age 84 in Antioch, Syria. His feast day is next Tuesday, October 18th.
It’s believed St. Luke was also an artist and that he painted a portrait of Mother Mary during a two-year period when they were both living in Jerusalem. With her insights, he wrote the most comprehensive gospel passages about Jesus’s miraculous conception and birth. Here’s a familiar passage from the poetic King James Version:
And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.
And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,
Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.
– Luke 2:8-14
In 1965, Charles M. Shultz placed these words in his cartoon followed by, “That’s what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.”
For many people, a seasonal viewing of A Charlie Brown Christmas is almost as necessary as producing a pageant or nativity scene.
In fact, centuries earlier, it was the above passage that encouraged St. Francis of Assisi to create the first nativity scene in the town of Greccio on Christmas Eve in 1223!
St. Luke’s words inspired these two people to create lasting traditions which inspire others in endless creative ripples.
One such ripple is called, “Just Drop the Blanket: The Moment You Never Noticed in A Charlie Brown Christmas,” by Jason Soroski, in which the author shows how significant it is that Linus released his security blanket the moment he recited the angelic words, “Fear not.”
Perhaps without realizing it, all Christians strive for this connection to Jesus Christ – the moment when we let go of our security habits in the trustful knowledge that we are safe with God.
For children, it can be a practical experience of putting away an actual blanket. Here’s a scene from our home in October of 2001:
Such coziness for story time!
Pages turn faster in the spring when things grow. My son dropped his blanket! And then he helped me create this:
Blanket Shadowbox Keepsake
1 shadow box frame
1 well-worn security blanket
Photos of child with blanket
1 index card
Optional: Other keepsake items
- Wash and completely dry security blanket. Fold neatly and place into shadow box.
- Arrange photos and other items on top.
- Place pieces of double-sided tape on back of photos and items and adhere to blanket.
- Personalize index card with name, birthdate, date of box creation, and message. Adhere to blanket.
- Secure clear lid in place. Hang shadowbox on wall.
Children show us how easy it is to drop that which no longer serves. It seems harder for us adults to let go of security addictions or habits and leap fully into the hands of God. But when we do, our joy comes from the powerful connection to the Swaddling Clothes of Love in the center of Christmas.
In honor of St. Luke whose writing kindles the spark of Jesus Christ, let’s make sunshine-filled:
ORANGE RICOTTA COOKIES*
½ cup (1 stick) softened butter
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon orange juice
1 tablespoon vanilla
8 ounces fresh ricotta cheese
2 ¼ cups flour
¼ teaspoon salt
3 teaspoons baking powder
2 cups powdered sugar
3 tablespoons orange juice
½ teaspoon orange extract
- In a mixing bowl, blend butter and sugar.
- Add orange juice, vanilla, ricotta, and eggs. Mix together.
- In another bowl, combine flour, salt, and baking powder. Stir with fork.
- Slowly add the dry mix to the liquid mixture to form a sticky dough.
- Place in refrigerator for 30 minutes.
- Combine powdered sugar, orange juice, and orange extract.
- Beat. Set aside.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- Drop small spoonfuls of dough onto parchment paper-covered cookie sheets.
- Bake for 12-15 minutes or until edges golden.
- Remove tray from oven. Quickly spread icing on each cookie while cookies are hot so that the icing melts and dribbles down each one.
- Shake orange sprinkles quickly and carefully onto the liquid icing before it hardens.
- Cool on wire rack.
Makes about 48 cookies.
*If “eating cookies” is the security habit you want to drop; fresh oranges are an excellent alternative.
What part of St. Luke’s story inspires you?