Basic Marine Graduation Ceremony
It was early in the morning hours of May 24,1968, that I, and forty other newly enlisted men of the United States Air Force, were greeted by the words of our “TI,” to “GIT UP!” We were at Amarillo Air Force Base in Texas. A TI in the Air Force is a “training instructor,” like a drill instructor of the other branches of the military. We were “yelled at,” with choice words that an adult had never “spoken to me,” lol. We were quickly ushered through the following: uniforms, olive-green fatigues; haircuts (all of it gone); shots (oooh! that air gun was not user-friendly!), and we were also given a booklet to memorize, which contained the “Code Of Conduct,” as is shown by the link below. The purpose of Basic Military Training is to create in its graduates from the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard, a unified force that may be called upon to be involved in a variety of missions. Some of our military members have been killed in action (KIA). Others have been taken captive by our enemies and held under horrible conditions as prisoners of war (POW). And, others were, and still are, missing in action (MIA).
Code of Conduct for the Armed Forces of the United States
*By Executive Order signed on November 3, 1977, President Carter amended the original statement in the Code which read, “bound to give only name, rank, service number, and date of birth.” (He made the code less stringent).
The opening video of this article is that of a U.S. Marine Basic Military Training Graduation Ceremony. I love the beat of the drum as the Marines march in perfect step, with their left heel striking the ground, at the beat of the drum, at the same time. Notice the correctness of the salutes. Whenever I watch such a video, I think to myself, “I’m proud to be an American. So, you may ask, “what does military basic training have to do with the subject of Christmas? Please let me continue.
The subject of Christmas and Paganism is one that has been a topic of discussion for many years, and will probably continue to be considered for many years to come. My previous articles that have led up to Christmas of this year have shown the exposure to much of the world, of the birth of Christ, that is heavily present in many circles each year during the month of December. It is an easy observation to make, that media Christmas programs would find no space for such broadcasts during any other month of the year, outside of December.
Through media programming of Christmas programs, the subject of the birth of Christ is aired around the world, in areas that would not necessarily be open to anything positive that deals with Christ, our Lord and Savior. The Great Commission of Christ (Acts 1:8, Matthew 28:18-20) is greatly enhanced by the media through radio and tv programming, even though many of those same broadcasting companies in today’s unbelieving world have no interest at all in Christ. Still, the message of Christ goes out all over the world, through satellite each December, when the emphasis on the birth of Christ is at its greatest. Without a doubt, Christmas Day, is the “one day” of the year that much of the world comes to a halt, especially in Europe, the Americas, New Zealand, and Australia. The reason for such a halt is the celebrated “birth of Christ.” From an evangelistic perspective, Christmas is a day of witness to unbelievers, whom find themselves humming “Silent Night,” and other carols, as they walk though stores and malls listening to the soft music of the season coming through the speakers in the ceiling. We, whom have been born again and know Christ as our Lord and Savior, take that same time to reflect on the fact that our Savior came into the world as, “God with us,” (Isaiah 7:14/742 B.C./Matthew 1:23-25/4 B.C.); and, “The Almighty God,” (Isa 9:6/740 B.C.) (dates from the Scofield Study Bible).
The pagan world needs the message of “Christ, and Him crucified (1 Corinthians 2:2), which is the message of the New Testament. The message of the Old Testament is the coming of the Messiah, “God with us.” The identity of a pagan is easy to discern; anyone whom does not know the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (Matthew 22:32) is a pagan. Genesis 1:1 (Elohim is the first Name in the Bible of God, and comes from the Hebrew root meaning “strength” or “power”,.) Other Names of God in the Bible are: El Shaddai (Lord God Almighty); El Elyon (The Most High God); Adonai (Lord, Master); Yahweh (Lord: Yahweh refers to “the self-existent, eternal God” the name God revealed to Moses:); El Olam (The Everlasting God); Theos (God); Kurios (Lord); Despotes (Master or Lord); Abba (Father or Dearest Father).
Let’s consider Christmas in the Bible; this is an easy one. Christmas is not mentioned, or addressed, in any form, anywhere in the Bible. Some have suggested that Jeremiah discusses Christmas. But, the prophet is speaking to Israel, in the year 600 B.C., (600 years prior to the birth of Christ) definitely not about “the baby Jesus” or Christmas trees, but about idol worship. In essence, the Jewish prophets spoke to Jews about Jewish things. See the following verses of scripture.
Jeremiah 10:1-4 New English Translation (NET Bible) (The Lord, not Idols, is the Only Worthy Object of Worship)
1 You people of Israel, listen to what the Lord has to say to you. 2 The Lord says, “Do not start following pagan religious practices. Do not be in awe of signs that occur in the sky even though the nations hold them in awe. 3 For the religion of these people is worthless. They cut down a tree in the forest, and a craftsman makes it into an idol with his tools. 4 He decorates it with overlays of silver and gold. He uses hammer and nails to fasten it together so that it will not fall over.
Let’s consider whether Christians celebrating Christmas are honoring a pagan holiday. The world is full of pagans, and of pagan rituals. I don’t know of any believers in Christ that worship pagan idols on Christmas Day, or on any other day of the year.
Let’s go back to the beginning of this article, and bring the military into the discussion.
Pow (1945) Pathe cameraman Terry Ashwood and BBC war correspondent Edward Ward, who was POW for over three years, seated in Pathe studio. He was captured at Sidi Rezegh in November 1941 and released a week before filming this item.
POW Christmas 1944 – Consider the way that American soldiers celebrated Christmas. Consider the American POWs being transported in box cars to places of POW camps, where they did not if they would be tortured or executed. Look at the many American POWs that are pictured.
Silent Night – Jeff Raymond Published on Dec 26, 2008 – soldiers, airmen, marines, seamen sing silent night to our lord on Christmas eve in the Al Faw Palace Rotunda, Baghdad, Iraq
In the above videos we have learned about Christians in the military being held in POW camps, under brutal conditions. We have also learned about other POWs being moved about the Nazi empire, in horrendous conditions, not knowing if they will be tortured or executed, singing “Silent Night” on Christmas Eve. The last videos shows members of the military singing “Silent Night,” in Iraq on Christmas Eve.
Without a doubt, December in Germany can be brutally cold. When I was overseas, and spent Decembers in the Philippines and Thailand, I found a very pleasant climate, even on Christmas Eve.
Weather information was important to me while I was in the Air Force. My units controlled airplanes, so weather related data was essential to the safe control of fighter jets, and other types of aircraft. Wind direction and speed; temperature, Fahrenheit and Centigrade, from ground level to 60,000 feet mean sea level, to determine contrail altitudes (a trail of condensed water from an aircraft or rocket at high altitude, seen as a white streak against the sky) so we would know at which altitudes aircraft could be seen by other aircraft, whether “friend or foe.”
So, what do altitudes have to do with this discussion on Christmas and pagan days of celebration? As we can see in the comparison of Tucson, AZ, USA and Bethlehem, Israel, Tucson is actually further north of the equator than is Bethlehem.
Tucson, AZ USA latitude and longitude. 32.22155° N, -110.9698° E, 2390 feet above sea level.
Bethlehem, Israel latitude and longitude. 31.70424° N, 35.20629° E, 2543 feet above sea level.
Tucson’s average December temperature is 66 F, with the record high being 85 F. The record low is 21 F.
Bethlehem’s average December temperature is 59 F, with the record high being 83 F. The record low is 16 F.
Once on, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, I spent that time in Tucson. I found the temperature to be very mild, in the lower 80s.
Let’s consider another comparison, with that being of north Florida and South Georgia, in the USA. Consider the following articles.
The December temperature in Jerusalem is two degrees cooler than Lake City Florida; 42 vs. 44 degrees. The same is true for Jacksonville, Florida. However the average low temperature for Valdosta, Georgia and Albany, Georgia are a degree or two cooler than Jerusalem. So the average December low temperature in Jerusalem (at the top of the mount) is the equivalent of extreme south Georgia or extreme north Florida. Not exactly Arctic conditions so to speak.
The following link provides interesting information on the subject of Christmas being a pagan holiday.
MYTH: December 25 Based Upon Roman Pagan Holidays
John 3:3 New International Version (NIV)
3 Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.”
It is very clear from John 3:3 that if we have not been spiritually born from above (a spiritual new birth), that we can not enter the time of the Kingdom Age, also known as the millennium, and the 1000 year reign of Christ, and neither can we expect to enter the eternal state of the new heaven, new earth, new Jerusalem (Revelation 21:1-2), which immediately will follow the Kingdom Age. So, either we have been spiritually born again, or we haven’t been born again. And, if we have not been again, neither will we enter the Kingdom Age, nor will we enter the eternal state; there is no fence straddling.
Let’s bring the military back into the discussion, where we will close this discussion. Are we to say that prisoners of war, if they sing “Silent Night” on December 24th or December 25th, are celebrating a pagan holiday? Are we also to say that POWs on trains to death camps were celebrating a pagan holiday if they sang “Silent Night” on December 24th or December 25th? And, consider the people of the military in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, or any other place around the world. Are they also celebrating a pagan holiday if they sing “Silent Night” on December 24th or December 25th? Would it be more acceptable for these groups of believers in Christ to sing “Silent Night” a week earlier, or a week later, than December 24th of December 25th? Consider “either/or,” and “neither/nor.” Either those in the videos were celebrating a pagan holiday, or they were not. Neither, should they be free of that “stigma,” if they are found to be “guilty” of celebrating a pagan holiday. So, if soldiers can sing “Silent Night” on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, can we not, those of us whom are located all around the world, also do the same thing, and not be found guilty of celebrating a pagan holiday? Are we allowed to read about the birth of Christ, as is found in Luke 2:1-20, on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, and not be found guilty of celebrating a pagan holiday? (I could go on).
From me, to you: “Merry Christmas!”
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