Reeder: We have to be honest despite history rewrites– Pilgrims gave thanks to God


 

 

 

 

 

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TOM LAMPRECHT:  Well, Happy Thanksgiving, everyone. Harry, it was President Abraham Lincoln that first established Thanksgiving on the last Thursday of November. Then, when Franklin Delano Roosevelt took office, he was celebrating Thanksgiving on the last day of the month.

However, as they went through the Depression, many retailers petitioned the president to move Thanksgiving back by a week so they could have a longer time to celebrate the Christmas season and sell their goods to the folks getting ready for Christmas.

Well, traditionally, Thanksgiving Day has been sort of a kickoff for the Christmas celebration, although I have to say my wife and I went on vacation back in September, we stopped by a Cracker Barrel in mid-September, and the shop was in full Christmas regalia.

As we look back on how Thanksgiving was established, it is so much more than just a time to kick off the Christmas season.

DR. REEDER: Tom, we all are aware of the Thanksgiving that the Pilgrims had. Many folks are going to schools that are trying to rewrite history and say, “Well, they really were just giving thanks to the Indians.”

No, you have to be honest: They gave thanks to the Lord who had sustained them and one of his means had been the Indians so they joined together in the feast, which was just a great statement.

George Washington initiated a Thanksgiving Day. He would have a regular day of prayer, humiliation and fasting and then a day of thanksgiving and feasting. And then Lincoln, of course as you know, instituted the regular observance of it.

Until then, it’d just been each president would do it in terms of their term of office and they would, every year, do what we would call an executive order. However, now it became the law of the land, so we would celebrate Thanksgiving.

Then, it began to be seen as, “We could get more Christmas sales because people like to start buying for Christmas after Thanksgiving so let’s move Thanksgiving back and get another week for buying Christmas things.”

And so, now, the mercantile dynamic, and the economic dynamic and the consumer dynamic has pretty well taken over the substance of what it’s supposed to be so now you have Black Friday and you have all of those things associated with the sales, etc.

Christians just march lock-step into it and we wonder where has the meaning of Christmas and Thanksgiving gone as we participate in the new Christmas and Thanksgiving, which is economic consumerism and the GNP.

Obviously, I think it’s fine to go shopping and do all of those things – I’m not a legalist on this – but I would just love for believers to stop, and take stock of this, and say, “As for me and my house, we’re going to serve the Lord, not the season as defined by the world and here’s how we’re going to celebrate it.”

I’d certainly like to raise my voice in concern when people remove the Biblical understanding of Thanksgiving or even try to remove the name of Christ from Christmas, but my bigger concern is what do believers do with it and what do we in the church do with it?

Therefore, I want us to make sure that we’re not simply baptizing the world’s view of Christmas and Thanksgiving and making it just a day of nostalgia and a day of measuring everything by what I got, and who I gave it to and all of the things that have invaded the celebration of the birth of the Savior of sinners who would be proclaimed to all the nations of the world.

Tom Lamprecht: Abraham Lincoln, when he observed that first holiday and declared the last Thursday of November as Thanksgiving Day, that was in 1863.

DR. REEDER: Right.

Tom Lamprecht: How did that relate to what was going on in our country at that time?

DR. REEDER: Well, what it really relates to is his conversion with his son, Willie, who was dying of typhoid, and an African-American servant in the White House who was sharing the Gospel with him, and the recalling of what his mother had said, and, also a Presbyterian pastor who had helped him in the death of his oldest son and then a Quaker Christian woman who was ministering to him.

All of those things coincided with the horrors of the Civil War and he began to write something called “Meditations Upon the Divine Will,” and you can see the process of God bringing him to conversion because, up until then, he was a skeptic of Christianity.

When you read his Gettysburg Address, which is post his conversion, the Second Inaugural Address, which he made before his assassination – all of those things – and then read the memoirs of Dr. Phineas Gurley, the New York Avenue Presbyterian pastor who was discipling him during those years, it’s amazing what happened between ’62 and ’63.

And, in that time, he decided he adopted George Washington’s desire that the country would have as a motto, “In God We Trust,” and, also, he began to proclaim the fact that this nation, while it was not a theocracy, was a nation that was under God, and that it was theistic, and that our founding documents insisted upon that. And then he also wanted Thanksgiving to be borrowed from George Washington’s tradition and instituted, as well.

And so that’s how that process came into being and, by the way, in the 1950s, a couple of senators grasped that and that’s when they introduced, by law, that coinage would have “In God We Trust” and “Under God,” the phrase from the Gettysburg Address was introduced into a humanist, statist thing called “The Pledge of Allegiance.” And so “Under God” was put into that and totally changed that which is why we always pause when we put “Under God” in there because it wasn’t in the original.

Tom Lamprecht: Harry, so many of the other holidays in the church calendar commemorate an event that took place, and it’s great to do that, but you think of the birth of Christ, the crucifixion of Christ, His ascension, but Thanksgiving is somewhat unique in that it doesn’t commemorate or celebrate as much as it is a day of reflection and gratitude.

DR. REEDER: Well it’s not something in the church calendar that focuses upon a particular aspect of the work of Christ such as His birth, His death, His resurrection, His ascension, Pentecost Sunday, etc., but it is a distinctly American experience of Christians who said, “We are what we are by the grace of God so we want to give thanks to God,” and so it became an American holiday that the church then incorporated.

It didn’t originate in the church and go to the nation – it originated in the impact of Christianity in the nation and then the church has made use of it. Now, clearly, every Lord’s Day, you ought to give thanks and every Christian ought to give thanks continually, but to establish a season whereby we have an open door to the nation and a reminder to us as a church of the great virtue of Thanksgiving and how that fuels every act of my Christian life – my obedience, my worship, my love, my devotion – all of those things are out of gratitude.

I’m not paying Jesus back for my redemption – I’m receiving a gift from Him and now I want to give Him thanks with every area of my life.

Thanksgiving is a great opportunity that we shouldn’t lose as individual believers because of what we can say to our families and we shouldn’t lose as the Lord’s family, the church, because of what we can say to individuals and families about how Thanksgiving is a way of life and the event can be used to promote the lifestyle.

Tom Lamprecht: Every day ought to be the day of Thanksgiving for believers and you said, “Well, yeah, that’s true, but there should be a special day”?

DR. REEDER: Exactly, and I think you’re not taking away from the fact that every day should be a day of Thanksgiving to take one day and focus upon Thanksgiving and use that day to propel Thanksgiving as a way of life so they’re not antithetical to each other that you can use the event to promote the lifestyle and the lifestyle can enhance the event.

And, Tom, may I just say, as our folks are hearing us today and perhaps at Thanksgiving or going to Thanksgiving meals, then take some time to read Scripture from the Psalms to give thanks. Go around and each individual – we love to this – and each individual shares what they’re thankful for and have a time of prayer of Thanksgiving.

Just make use of that table of feast to give thanks to the Lord and encourage each other in your families. Go out and do something in ministry to those who don’t have as many reasons to give thanks as you do this day. Just find ways to do that. Now, that’s something to really turn Thanksgiving into a learning moment as well as a praise opportunity.

One other thought: Some of the folks in our church set a place at the table to commemorate those soldiers who are serving and those who have lost their lives in the keeping of our freedoms in this country to give thanks to the Lord for them.

Those are just a couple of thoughts.

Tom Lamprecht: And we do hope you’ll apply those thoughts as your family celebrates this Thanksgiving Day.

Dr. Harry L. Reeder III is the Senior Pastor of Briarwood Presbyterian Church in Birmingham.

This podcast was transcribed by Jessica Havin. Jessica is editorial assistant for Yellowhammer News. Jessica has transcribed some of the top podcasts in the country and her work has been featured in a New York Times Bestseller.

43 mins ago

Jefferson County: Recovering elderly COVID-19 patients must be returned to their nursing homes

The Jefferson County Department of Health (JCDH) is asking nursing homes in the area to take back patients still testing positive for the coronavirus, according to a letter brought to light by the Alabama Nursing Home Association (ANHA).

The leading studies available have shown that COVID-19 is much more deadly for people over 65 than any other age group.

ANHA communications director John Matson told Alabama Media Group that the new county guidelines go “against sound medical advice.”

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The JCDH cites “the possibility that our hospitals will not have the capacity to care for a large number of patients infected with COVID-19” as the reason for nursing homes to take in the coronavirus-positive patients.

According to the department, individuals testing positive for the virus will only be returned to a nursing home if two conditions are both met:

  • At least three days (72 hours) have passed since recovery, defined as resolution of fever without use of fever-reducing medications and improvement in respiratory symptoms (e.g., cough, shortness of breath)
  • At least seven days have passed since symptoms first appeared.

The department added that some patients may be returned before those conditions are met if their facility is able to adopt certain extra precautions.

Because the new guidelines are being issued by the Jefferson County Department of Health, they only apply to nursing homes in Jefferson County.

Additionally, patients hospitalized without COVID-19 symptoms do not have to test negative before being readmitted to their nursing home.

“For weeks we haven’t allowed family members and volunteers to visit our nursing homes, and our families understand why,” Matson told Alabama Media Group.

“Now they can’t visit, but we’re supposed to admit someone that’s COVID-19 positive?” Matson added.

The Jefferson County Health Department is assuring the public that it is following guidelines laid out by the CDC.

Henry Thornton is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can contact him by email: henry@yellowhammernews.com or on Twitter @HenryThornton95.

Ainsworth: A little effort can make a big difference in the fight against the COVID-19 virus

Every American was a bit disappointed when the White House announced this week that social distancing guidelines will remain in place at least until April 30, and some governors across the nation have mandated that statewide shelter-in-place orders may be enforced until the end of June.

Working from home, avoiding contact with others and venturing into public only when absolutely necessary can make life seem much like the Bill Murray movie, “Groundhog Day.” Each day, the temptation to break a social distancing guideline becomes a little harder to resist and the desire to ignore protocols and immediately return to your normal routine becomes that much greater.

But facts, statistics and simple, everyday hard truths demand that we not only hold the course in the fight against COVID-19, but also practice stricter self-discipline in how we act and what we do.

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As this column is being written, Alabama is teetering on the edge of its 1,000th documented case of Coronavirus, and 19 of our fellow Alabama citizens have already succumbed to the deadly sickness.

Every indicator points to the situation getting significantly worse in our state before it begins to improve, and President Trump has ordered additional ventilators sent to Alabama from the national stockpile in order to prepare for what awaits us.

If current trends continue, Alabama’s healthcare resources will likely be pushed beyond capacity by the end of the month, and the number of hospital and ICU beds that are needed will exceed the total number we have in the state.

The good news is that Alabamians can prove all of these projections and possible doomsday scenarios wrong if we just use common sense, take self-responsibility, and follow the rules that health professionals suggest.

Too many among us are still refusing to take the COVID-19 crisis seriously, and by doing that, they threaten their own lives along with the lives of everyone they love and everyone they meet.

Since Gov. Kay Ivey declared the state’s Gulf Coast beaches closed in order to enforce social distancing, the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency has reported a dramatic surge in weekend traffic on Alabama’s lakes and rivers.

My family and I live by Lake Guntersville, and we have noticed the massive groups of people congregating together, jumping from party boat to party boat, and ignoring every rule about social distancing and self-isolation that the Center for Disease Control has asked us to follow.

It may come as a surprise to these weekend revelers, but sun, water and cold beer are not effective vaccines against COVID-19.

For proof of this fact, just look toward the group of University of Wisconsin-Madison students who spent their Spring Break in Gulf Shores in mid-March. Upon their return north, several of the students have displayed symptoms and tested positive for COVID-19, and all of them are currently under quarantine.

Each time an individual or family decides to strictly follow CDC guidelines and do their part in the fight against coronavirus, the numbers bend in our direction, and all of us get that much closer to safely resuming normalcy.

Assuming Alabama has a daily infection rate of 20%, trends show that we can expect to have more than 245,000 total cases of COVID-19 by May 1, but if through discipline and resolve we can reduce that daily growth to 10%, a little more than 9,000 cases will occur. At 5% growth, we have only 1,600.

In other words, just a little effort and diligence from all of us can make a tremendous difference. Social distancing is recommended because the virus that causes COVID-19 can travel at least three feet when coughed or sneezed, and it can live on surfaces for days.

The rules for social distancing are easy to understand and follow, and they require you to remain at least six feet away from others, wash your hands frequently with soap, sanitize and wipe down surfaces, stay at home to stop the spread, and self-quarantine and contact your physician if you experience symptoms.

President Trump was wise to extend the social distancing requirements for at least another month, but all of us look forward to the day when future extensions will not be necessary. To accomplish that goal, we must each remember three simple things – stay smart, stay healthy and, most importantly, stay home.

Will Ainsworth is the lieutenant governor of Alabama and serves as an appointed member of Gov. Kay Ivey’s COVID-19 Task Force.

3 hours ago

Ivey says small business owners should apply for financial relief right now

Governor Kay Ivey is urging Alabama’s small businesses to gird themselves against the coronavirus-caused economic conditions by applying for financial relief from the federal government.

According to the governor’s office, the final guidelines for how the relief is to be distributed will be released soon.

However, Ivey is urging business owners to contact “their local banker, accountant, financial advisor or credit union” immediately so they can be ready for the resources when they become available.

“I urge business owners to act today and be prepared to apply for assistance designed specifically to get them in front of the line when relief checks are written,” said Ivey in a statement.

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The main source of federal relief available for small businesses is a $349 billion fund called the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) that was created as part of the $2.2 trillion federal stimulus bill.

All the loans administered by the PPP will be fully forgivable as long as two conditions are met.

Those conditions are:

  •  The loan proceeds are used to cover payroll costs, and most mortgage interest, rent, and utility costs over the 8 week period after the loan is made; and
  • Employee and compensation levels are maintained.

A detailed breakdown of the Paycheck Protection Program is available here.

The loans are available “through any existing SBA lender or through any federally insured depository institution, federally insured credit union, and Farm Credit System institution that is participating,” according to the governor’s office.

Governor Ivey’s full letter to the state’s small business community can be read here.

A breakdown of the U.S. Treasury Department’s COVID-19 relief efforts can be accessed on the Treasury’s website.

Henry Thornton is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can contact him by email: henry@yellowhammernews.com or on Twitter @HenryThornton95.

3 hours ago

Sessions calls for China to be investigated over handling of coronavirus outbreak

Former U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions is calling for the creation of a select congressional committee that will lead an international investigation into China’s role in the coronavirus pandemic.

Sessions, who is in the midst of a campaign for the U.S. Senate seat he once held, has made his vociferous opposition to the communist government of China a central focus of his remarks in recent days.

The longtime Alabama elected official said in a statement that he wants a “United States-led, international investigation into what China has done and what it continues to do, starting with the Chinese Communist Party’s handling of the Wuhan Virus.”

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“I am calling today for Congress to immediately establish a Select Committee on China to lead the investigation,” Sessions added.

U.S. Senator Josh Hawley (R-MO) and U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY) have previously introduced legislation calling for an investigation into China’s handling of the initial outbreak.

Sessions’ proposed investigation seeks to go further than any that has been previously proposed.

In commenting about the Chinese regime’s relationship to COVID-19, the former U.S. Senator from Alabama said, “They caused it by silencing those who tried to warn the world, by blocking American and international scientists from coming in to stop the outbreak early, and by faking infection and death rates to downplay the seriousness of the spread. And they are continuing to use their propaganda machine to obscure the record today.”

“They cannot be allowed to succeed this time,” he remarked.

Sessions wants each of those aspects to be within the scope of his proposed investigation, and he wants “responsible members of the international community” to join with the United States to make it happen.

“We have used these types of committees before at critical moments in our nation’s history, including after the attack on Pearl Harbor, after the Watergate scandal, after the Iran-Contra Affair, and others,” said Sessions about his proposed select committee that would lead the international investigation.

Sessions also mentioned that his anger was directed at the government of China — not the citizens.

He advised the public, “We know that the Chinese people themselves are not the enemy— they are the biggest victims of the Chinese government, and exposing the truth will benefit them most of all.”

Sessions promised more aspects of his “Betting on America” plan to address the threat he feels China poses to the United States will be coming soon.

Henry Thornton is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can contact him by email: henry@yellowhammernews.com or on Twitter @HenryThornton95.

5 hours ago

7 Things: Up to 240,000 could die in coronavirus pandemic, WH task force explains China’s role in spreading the virus, Alabama legislature looks forward and more …

7. Seattle to investigate racial slurs

  • In response to increased racism toward Asian-Americans since the start of the coronavirus, Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best has told people to call 911 to “Report hate, including racist name-calling” and police “will respond to investigate.”
  • Best said that they “will document and investigate every reported hate crime,” adding that even if people are unsure “if a hate crime occurred, call 911.”

6. SEC has canceled spring meetings

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  • The spring meetings for the SEC that were planned for the end of May have been canceled. The meetings have commonly been used for rule changes for the upcoming seasons, and coaches and administrators regularly attend.
  • The SEC said in a release that they will continue to “determine alternate methods for holding meetings important to conference operations and explore opportunities to recognize award winners who [were to be] honored at the event.”

5. Abortions allowed during a pandemic, but nothing else is

  • Despite the State Health Order to ban all elective or unnecessary medical procedures, a U.S. District judge has ruled that abortions still need to be provided during the coronavirus pandemic.
  • This ruling came after the American Civil Liberties Union challenged Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall’s suggestion that all clinics should close and medical staff and supplies should go elsewhere.

4. This is the worst quarter for the market ever

  • The coronavirus outbreak has significantly impacted the stock market, and now the Dow Jones Industrial Average has seen its worst first quarter in 124 years, dropping 23.2% in the first quarter of this year.
  • This was also the worst overall quarter for the Dow since the market crash of 1987, and the S&P 500 has seen its worst overall quarter since 2008.

3. Alabama legislature meets, then adjourns

  • Both the Alabama State House and State Senate met Tuesday and then agreed to meet at a later date when it is safer to do so. Some members wore masks and other protective gear on the floor and kept their distance while huddled into groups discussing state business.
  • When the legislature returns they will have two areas of focus, according to State Senate Pro Tem Del Marsh (R-Anniston) and Speaker of the House Mac McCutcheon (R-Monrovia): economic stimulus and “bare-bones” budgets.

2. WH task force attempts to help the media understand China 

  • During questioning from reporters to the White House Coronavirus Task Force, Dr. Deborah Birx highlighted how China’s disinformation hindered the United States’ response because they “were missing a significant amount of the data” from China. Birx added that the data from Spain and Italy tell a more accurate picture.
  • Former U.S. Attorney General Jeff Session called for a total reset of our relationship with China, saying, “America must now fundamentally reset our relationship with China. This is no time for half-measures or a slap on the wrist. This Chinese-made global health crisis should be a wake-up call. China is lying and people are dying. Enough is enough.”

1. “Painful two weeks”

  • In a rather grim press conference, President Donald Trump’s coronavirus task force said the nation is on track to see between 100,000 and up to 240,000 deaths.
  • Trump appeared to be attempting to set expectations and show the nation the worst-case scenario, saying, “I want every American to be prepared for the hard days that lie ahead. We’re going to go through a very tough two weeks.”