Post #33, Customs, New & Old

On a hot day, there was no other chore I’d rather do. The dock was damp and uncomfortable beneath my knees, and I was holding myself in a funny position, but I was happy as the proverbial clam.

Last weekend I was able to go somewhere with people I love to a couple hundred acres and never see another soul but family. You can only get there by boat, hiking or horseback. There is no cell service. There’s a very fresh and cold lake to jump in. The scenery is spectacular. If you’d like to know more about the area, please buy my book, Mission of the Unsung Hero. (How’s that for an unabashed teaser!)

My cousins who live there on weekends proudly hang a flag from the ramp that connects their dock on the lake to the high ground. But wind and weather mean it has to be changed out every two years or so. I offered to help my cousin, Jo, replace it on this trip.

Wish I’d done better on folding!

We worked together to remove the old flag then carefully pull it up to the ramp without it touching the ramp. My daughter, Hannah, had come along, and I asked her if she knew that a United States flag could never touch the ground, and I’m pleased to say she did know. Jo coached me along and Hannah held the other end as we folded the flag in half the long way and then in half again, trying to get the stars in the right place (which I didn’t!). Then my Girl Scout training kicked in and I started from the stripes end doing the proper triangle fold. When we got to the end, the stars weren’t in the right place, but we’d done our best. I remembered how the flap was to fold into the triangle. We hadn’t folded it perfectly and the end fought me, but I was happy that I remembered this bit of tradition.

A beat up but proud disposal receptacle of our flag.
It was full, so I had to take mine inside the Veteran’s Hall

I told Jo that we had a flag disposal near our place at home, and she said it would be great for me to take it. According to flag etiquette, a U.S. flag can only be disposed of in certain ways. So it traveled home with us and I disposed of it yesterday. I was glad to remember a bit of flag etiquette.

Imagine if you lived in another country two-thousand years from now and read something about someone being very upset because a U.S. flag touched the ground. Would you know what was being talked about? Hopefully so, but maybe not.

The Bible was written thousands of years ago in another part of the world with different traditions and ways of life. An exciting part of studying the Bible is understanding the culture of the time so the Word of God makes sense.

Eastern customs regarding childbirth can bring a great appreciation for Christ’s birth.

Luke 2:6&7:

And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.

And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.

Please enjoy this explanation from Jesus Christ Our Passover, written by Dr. Victor Paul Wierwille.

“Whenever a son of a king, a prince, was born, that child was “salted” and “swaddled.” To salt a child meant that soon after birth the newborn babe was gently washed with water having a small portion of salt in it. Salt symbolized the qualities of truth and honesty. Bathing a newborn in salt water indicated that the child would have these characteristics.

“After salting the newborn child, strips of fine linen cloth, about two inches wide, were then wrapped around his body. These were called “swaddling clothes.” The child was wrapped from head to foot, with only a part of his face being left uncovered so he could breathe. The baby’s body and limbs were held very straight when wrapped in this fashion. These linen strips were not rags and did not mean Joseph and Mary were poverty-stricken, but rather, this was a sign to God that these parents would raise the child to be upright before the Lord, and that he would be free from crookedness and waywardness.

“In Biblical times, any child born to nobility or royalty would be salted and swaddled. If this were not done, there would be doubt regarding the person’s integrity both in his youth and in his adulthood. Note the following insult in the Old Testament.

Ezekiel 16:4:

…thou wast not salted at all, nor swaddled at all.

“To say to a noble person that he had not been salted or swaddled was to indicate he was unreliable, dishonest, without integrity—as though his parents had not gone through the proper ritual at his birth.

“According to the customs of the time, Mary and Joseph washed Jesus in salt water before they swaddled him, indicating that he was of royal lineage, as God’s Son and as heir to the throne of David.”

Isn’t that beautiful? What a God we have, and what care was taken of His son from the very beginning! I was thrilled to understand these truths when studying God’s Word years ago. People of today don’t understand this truth unless they study the culture of the time.

If you’d like to understand more about manners and customs of the Bible, a great place to start is with the book, Light Through an Eastern Window, by Bishop K.C. Pillai, a wonderful man raised in India who became a Christian and taught Dr. Wierwille every place there was a manner or custom from the Eastern culture. It is available on Amazon. Or write me and I can give some other references.

From flag etiquette to salting and swaddling, to understand any culture we must understand their customs.

To close, perhaps this scripture will make more sense understanding the customs of the Bible:

Colossians 4:6:

Let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.

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