Sign up for Our Newsletter

* indicates required

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


 

 

 

 

 

Listen to the 10 min audio

 

Read the transcript:

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.

8 hours ago

Aderholt named ranking member of appropriations subcommittee critical to north Alabama’s economy

On Tuesday, Congressman Robert Aderholt (AL-4) was named ranking member of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice and Science, which funds NASA and the FBI, amongst other important economic engines.

In a statement, Aderholt said, “It is a great honor to be named the ranking member of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice and Science. This subcommittee is certainly important to America, but even more so for North Alabama.”

193

“This subcommittee is directly responsible for funding NASA and the FBI, along with the Department of Commerce,” Aderholt explained. “The FBI and NASA are two very important agencies to the economy of not only Huntsville, but also the northern portion of our state. NASA, of course, has a long history in this region and gave rise to Huntsville’s name as the Rocket City. And in just the past few years, the FBI has built a presence on Redstone Arsenal and is in the process of growing to a level of approximately 4,000 jobs.”

The congressman concluded, “With my leadership on this subcommittee, I will work to ensure that North Alabama continues to lead as we return to the moon, put boots on Mars and travel into deep space. And with the FBI’s Hazardous Devices School, and growing footprint in North Alabama, I will also be a voice to let my colleagues know that North Alabama is in a prime position to be a hub for matters concerning our national security.”

Aderholt also serves on the powerful House Appropriations Committee.

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

9 hours ago

Is Doug Jones a foot soldier in the Democrat Civil War for taking a shot at liberal darling Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez?

If you are Sen. Doug Jones (D-AL) right now, you probably know you have almost no chance of being elected to a full term as a United State senator.

This obviously could change. Roy Moore could continue to crave the spotlight and enter a Republican primary field in 2020, but this is obviously a long-shot for him.

Complicating Jones’ life right now is a number of new Democratic members of the House of Representatives. They are outspoken, silly and contrary to the carefully crafted image Jones wants to sell to Alabama. Jones wants to be Mr. Moderate, a conservative-ish Democrat in the mold of former Congressman Bud Cramer (D-Huntsville), but he can’t do that if he is constantly dealing with a 24-hour news cycle where his fellow Democrats are acting nuts.

281

Jones seems to know this, and the clearest way to distinguish himself from members like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) is to directly scold her to The Hill.

He said, “I think it skews what’s really there for the Democratic Party.”

Jones seems to want to differentiate himself from Ocasio-Cortez’s brand of non-stop Twitter trolling will endear her to the same media that can’t let a Trump tweet go without an analysis of its impact. But Jones didn’t stop there. He also thinks this style of bomb-throwing is ineffective politics.

“When it gets time to get things done, that’s what people are going to be looking at — they’re going to be looking at the middle-of-the-roaders because it’s the only way to get anything done,” Jones stated.

If recent history is any judge, Ocasio-Cortez will not let these comments slide without a response. The fight for the soul of the Democratic Party is on and Jones will likely find himself out-gunned and without many powerful allies.

In response to similar criticism from former Democratic vice presidential candidate Joe Lieberman (D-CT), Ocasio-Cortez responded with the following tweet:

Will Jones double-down or will he slink back to his backbench for fear of his party’s base if she hits back?

For now, Jones sounds like he thinks his voters want him to get stuff done, but considering that Jones’ main accomplishment at this point in his Senate career is his vote against now-Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation it is likely most Alabama voters would prefer he enjoys his time in Washington D.C. as a spectator before being sent home in 2020.

@TheDaleJackson is a contributing writer to Yellowhammer News and hosts a talk show from 7-11 am weekdays on WVNN

10 hours ago

Trump AG nominee: Sessions ‘probably did the right thing’ in recusing himself from Russia probe

Attorney General-nominee William Barr on Tuesday said Jeff Sessions “probably did the right thing” in recusing himself from the investigation into alleged collusion with Russia by the Trump campaign, according to The Washington Post.

Barr previously served as attorney general from 1991-1993. During his confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Barr was asked by committee chair Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) about Sessions’ decision to recuse himself from the probe because he was involved in the Trump campaign.

“I am not sure of all of the facts, but I think he probably did the right thing recusing himself,” Barr said.

132

This came the day after Sessions attended Alabama’s Inaugural Day festivities, including the swearing-in ceremony for all statewide elected officials and reception for state Attorney General Steve Marshall.

During Marshall’s event in the attorney general’s office building, Sessions said, “Do the right thing every day and usually things will work out… [well,] not always.”

After the laughter of the room started to subside, he added, “At least in the United States, when they fire you, they don’t shoot you like they do in some countries.”

Sessions’ relationship with President Donald Trump was eroded by the recusal and the president’s public attacks on both that decision and Sessions personally. He resigned at the request of the president in November.

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

10 hours ago

State Sen. Gerald Allen responds to judge striking down Alabama Memorial Preservation Act — ‘Judges are not kings’

On Tuesday afternoon, State Senator Gerald Allen (R-Tuscaloosa), the sponsor of the Alabama Memorial Preservation Act, criticized Jefferson County Circuit Judge Michael Graffeo’s ruling that the law is unconstitutional.

Graffeo made the ruling Monday.

“Under the Constitution, judges are to be neutral umpires who apply the rule of law fairly,” Allen said in a statement. “A judge’s personal beliefs, whether about politics, sociology, or history, have no bearing on how he is to apply the law.”

He continued, “Judge Graffeo has taken it upon himself to know and declare that it is ‘undisputed’ that the majority of residents of Birmingham are ‘repulsed’ by the Linn Park monument, and has thus ruled the Alabama Memorial Preservation Act void. But judges are not kings, and judicial activism is no substitute for the democratic process.”

92

“The Memorial Preservation Act is meant to thoughtfully preserve the entire story of Alabama’s history for future generations. The law was vigorously debated for months by the people of Alabama’s duly-elected representatives in the State Legislature, and passed with overwhelming majorities in both the House and Senate,” Allen advised.

He concluded, “The Attorney General’s Office is confident that the Memorial Preservation Act is constitutional, and I look forward to the Attorney General’s appeal of Judge Graffeo’s ruling.”

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

11 hours ago

Judge voids Alabama law protecting Confederate monuments

A judge has overturned an Alabama law meant to prevent the removal of Confederate monuments from public property, ruling the act infringed on the rights of citizens in a mostly black city who are “repulsed” by the memorial.

The 10-page ruling issued late Monday by Jefferson County Circuit Judge Michael Graffeo said a 2017 state law barring the removal or alteration of historical monuments wrongly violated the free speech rights of local communities.

The law cannot be enforced, Graffeo ruled, but the state could still appeal.

256

The attorney general’s comment had no immediate response to an email seeking comment Tuesday.

The state sued the city of Birmingham after officials tried to remove a 52-foot-tall (16-meter)-tall obelisk that was erected to honor Confederate veterans in a downtown park in 1905.

Rather than toppling the stone marker, the city built a 12-foot (3.6-meter)-tall wooden box around it.

Birmingham’s population of 210,000 is more than 70 percent black, and the judge said it was indisputable that most citizens are “repulsed” by the memorial.

He rejected the state’s claims that lawmakers had the power to protect historical monuments statewide.

The law includes a $25,000 penalty for removing or altering a historical monument, but the judge said the penalty was unconstitutional.

The city has not had to pay while the lawsuit worked its way through court.

The ruling came hours after the inauguration of Republican Gov. Kay Ivey, who signed the law and opened her campaign last year with a commercial that prominently showed Confederate monuments.

“We can’t change or erase our history, but here in Alabama we know something that Washington doesn’t. To get where we are going means understanding where we have been,” Ivey said in the ad.

Supporters of the law contend it protects not just Confederate memorials but historical markers of any kind, but rebel memorials have been an issue nationwide since a white supremacist gunman killed nine worshippers in a black church in Charleston, South Carolina, in 2015.
(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

Sign-up now for our daily newsletter and never miss another article from Yellowhammer News.