Reading the last issue of this season’s PhilNews, I was happy to discover this Chaplain’s Corner by Dr. Kerry L. Chessman. He wrote:

PTC“Here in New Mexico the Zia, a Zuni symbol, is seen everywhere. It is the centerpiece of the state flag; it is seen on the Philmont Training Center logo, and on many other patches and designs around camp and around the community. It is a symbol that predates the Spanish conquest of the southwest … there is much we can learn from this ancient symbol.”

While the the New Mexico State Flag above and the PTC patch both feature the Zia symbol, it is important to note the Zia are a Native American tribe centered in thier own New Mexico Pueblo. The tribe issign known for their pottery and use of the Sun symbol which originated with the Zia in ancient times. It’s design reflects their tribal philosophy, with its wealth of pantheistic teachings and the basic harmony of all things in the universe. It is there Pastor Kerry shows it as a symbol for our duty to God. He writes:

“…there is much we can learn from this ancient symbol.

“The center of the Zia is a circle, which represents the sun. The sun is the giver of all life on earth, as we learn in basic biology classes (remember photosynthesis?). Emanating from the sun are four sets of four rays, each of which represent many things to the Zuni people. Each of these ideas we can also be reflected in the Bible in a variety of places (only a few examples are given here):

  • The four directions of the earth – north, south, east, west.
    “And they will come from east and west and from north and south, and will recline at the table in the kingdom of God.” -Luke 13:29
  • The four seasons of the year – spring, summer, fall, winter
    “To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.” -Ecclesiastes 3:1
  • The four times of the day – dark, dusk, daylight, dawn
    “But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.” -2 Peter 3:8
  • The four stages of life – infancy, youth, adulthood, old age
    “I was young and now I am old…”- Psalm 37:25
  • “The four sacred obligations that one must develop to be in a right relationship with God – a strong body, a clear mind, a pure spirit, and a devotion to the welfare of others.

“I think this last one is perhaps the most important of the various meanings to us here at Philmont as we think about doing our Duty to God. These sacred obligations (we could also refer to them as spiritual disciplines) are concepts to live by each and every day, regardless of our religious background:

  1. “A strong body (‘So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”’-1 Corinthians 10:31) A strong body is an absolute necessity for most Philmont programs; we stress physical tness in our preparations back home as well as through the Trial of Courage program. 
  2. “A clear mind (But you, keep your head in all situations. 2 Timothy 4:5) Centering on our Duty to God and breathing good mountain air helps us to keep a clear mind!
  3. “A pure spirit (Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. Matthew 5:8) Being in ‘God’s Country’ and having opportunities for daily worship and crew meditation (including Roses, Thorns, and Buds) helps us to center on where and how God is leading us!
  4. “A devotion to the welfare of others (‘For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ ….. ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ -Matthew 25:35-40)”

Pastor Kerry concluded with this:

Pastor Kerry“I hope that you will take these sacred obligations to heart, and continue to follow them throughout the year ahead and throughout your life. May they guide you as you pursue the unique path that God has set you on in your life!”

Rev. Dr. Kerry L. Chessman | University Baptist Church and Philmont Chaplain


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