On Oct. 19, 1781, General George Cornwallis surrendered his army of 8,000 men to General George Washington, thus ending any chance of Great Britain winning the Revolutionary War.
In reality, Cornwallis did not surrender his sword but cited sickness and sent his secondary command General George O’Hara to surrender his sword as a sign of defeat.
George Washington refused to take his sword and sent his sub-commander General Benjamin Lincoln to accept the surrender of his ceremonial sword.
It was said that during the surrender ceremonies the British band was playing a popular tune called “The World Turned Upside Down.”
It was an old protest song against the British Parliament, first played in the 1640s.
In playing that tune, it meant the British did not think the Americans had a chance of winning the war, but they did with the French General Marquis de Lafayette blocking his escape by sea.
Thus, he had no choice.
In essence, it was a political statement of the times.
One of my favorite songs is “It is the end of the world as I know it and I feel *fine.”
*I feel fine because I have Jesus in my heart and know that in the long run, all things will work out.
But on March 9, 2020, our world as we know it in Missouri was also turned upside down and for a time I didn’t feel fine.
As you recall that was the week in which our governor suggested a stay-at-home order and asked all churches to not meet in person or gather with more than 10 people.
I and many other ministers had been preparing for that possible day but it still came as a shock and we had to try to salvage the weekend worship for Sunday, March 15.
That Saturday night I hastily prepared a video at home of my message.
It’s my tradition to always wear a gaudy green bow tie to celebrate St Patrick’s Day.
That wasn’t the first time, but it was one time when I learned about the cruelty and meanness of people on the World Wide Web when a so-called friend said how tacky my tie was.
He said good message but lose that ugly tie. Even though I explained that it was a hastily done service from home because of the stay-at-home orders.
But that is another article for down the road.
Since May 15, 2020, all of us who are ministers have had to learn new ways to do worship.
One of the hardest things for our church was to figure out a way to celebrate communion once we came back in church.
By our tradition, we celebrate communion every time we gather.
The Scriptures say “on the first day of the week when we gather together we break bread.” Acts 20:7
But the free market enterprise found a way to help us and to make money in the name of safety.
Sadly in America, we also experienced the avarice of the pandemic with lack of toilet paper, paper towels and other cleaning supplies as people hoarded.
Certain foods were also in short supply.
Many alcoholic distillers started making hand sanitizer in the name of public safety but charged over $60 a gallon.
Once things got under control, many were stuck with the overpriced hand sanitizer.
For the church, the suppliers developed individual communion kits that could be picked up by each worshiper on Sunday, which I thought were fairly priced, but hard to find.
Once we came back, we instituted vigorous cleaning every week and we had designated places for people to sit 6-feet apart.
We also found hand sanitizer and masks for each worshiper to have if they wanted them, and still today we keep them readily available.
Sadly many churches across America fought the local government’s orders to not worship in person.
Many churches were the site of located COVID-19 outbreaks.
Some pastors chose to ignore the law and went to jail citing religious freedom guaranteed by our constitution.
Our church leaders chose to follow the mandates of the government and the scientists. I am thankful for choosing to do what Jesus would have us do.
“The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the one,” as Spock would remind us.
Sorry, old Trekkie here.
We were glad the governor and local officers allowed us to return to worship in early June 2020, although still a bit different.
Still today, we have not had many social gatherings or events at the church to help stop the spread of the virus.
We are all hoping one day to return to a sense of the “new normal.”
Many of us had to learn new terms like Skype and Zoom.
We have learned how to edit online worship services.
Over the years I have heard the building is not the church but the people.
It seemed although we make that statement, the building was the most important thing for a lot of people.
Many of my colleagues have said the learning curve was rather steep and quick about how to do online worship services.
I am sure the ones I edited were not good at first.
But I am also sure of the Scriptures where it says “where two or three are gathered that God’s presence is there (in their midst). Matthew 18:20
During this time, thankfully family members were allowed to gather for times of worship by our governmental leaders.
Thankfully we are now gathering back in our sanctuary but many churches across our country and around the world are not.
We must lift them up in prayer that one day they too will be able to get back and say “I was glad to go to the house of the Lord.”
Yes, on March 15, 2020, our church world, and even our world in general in Missouri, was turned upside down. Yes, still today in 2021 our world is turned upside down and it is going to take a lot of hands to turn it right side up
If 2020 taught us anything, it was to take nothing for granted.
Life is a gift from God and it’s precious.
Many people around the world, including myself, lost dear friends and family to complications from the virus.
Sadly, many people still today think that it was a politically motivated hoax.
That’s all I’m going to say about that.
When the world is turned upside down and nothing makes sense, we must listen to the Scriptures and listen to our hearts for directions.
The Scriptures and our hearts will never lie about our true feelings and will give us directions.
The Scriptures remind us, “As the mountains surround Jerusalem so does our Lord now and forevermore.” Psalm 125:2
“Now faith is the assurance in things we hope but confidence in things we don’t see.” Hebrew 11:1
But even in that turning upside down of a world, God was still in control.
It is going to take a little while for us to “right” our world.
We must remember that we are all on this journey together and not be lone rangers.
As the Beatles song says “I get by with a little help from my friends.” In my case, four children.
Rev. Frank Chlastak began work as senior minister of First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Poplar Bluff on Sunday, Sept. 13, 2015. Chlastak is a graduate of Northeast Louisiana University and New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and has served congregations of the Christian Church in Louisiana, Arkansas, Virginia, Oklahoma and Missouri.