From the Desk of Pastor Clay

Then God said, ‘Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the wild animals of the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.’” Genesis 1:26, NRSV “Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up the other; but woe to one who is alone and falls and does not have another to help. Again, if two lie together, they keep warm; but how can one keep warm alone?” Ecclesiastes 4:9-11, NRSV How awesome was last weekend during Celebrate Canton? So many activities filled this whirlwind weekend that I hardly feel like I should list them out of a fear of missing out on any of them. But, for me as someone going through this as a first-timer, I was unbelievably impressed by the rock swap, the parade honoring our veterans, and, of course, our community worship service in the park. All the work that came together from so many different directions to make one great event is awesome to see. After the seemingly endless season of Coronatide we lived through and are still living through in a lot of ways (Thanks Delta & Lambda variants), it just seems that every event that happens “like normal” feels like it heals something within us and within our community. Finally, after a year of waiting, I was able to experience my first Celebrate Canton, Holy Blowin’ Smoke Rib Cook-off, and see that event evolve into new directions with food trucks in our parking lot and root beer floats in the park. I have seen a lot of cool things in Canton over the past year and have seen our community pull together for a number of worthwhile endeavors but seeing how the community came together last weekend just felt different, in the best way possible. It is not surprising that this past weekend felt so good, though, because this is exactly how God created us. In Genesis at the advent of humanity, God said, “Let us make humanity in our image” (emphasis added.) Let us. God created us in the divine image, and a big part of that image is the communal aspect of who God is. God exists in perpetual community – Father, Son, Spirit; Creator, Redeemer, Sustainer; or how ever you wish to express it. God is a communal reality and has made us to have that same craving for community. It is, as the teacher in Ecclesiastes says, not good for us to be alone. We need each other, and we are better together. And when that is absent, as we painfully learned last year, we are not better for it. Our mental health takes a hit, our physical health follows, and life just feels off in some way, like something is missing. While we are all relishing in the fact that for the most part we can be back together, we still exist in a world that threatens to divide us at every twist and turn. And rather than letting the world dictate how we respond to those who are different from us, we have the opportunity to present this counter-cultural existence where we express God’s image on us and live in community with those who are alike and different from us. This is how God created us and how God calls us to live. And you cannot find anything else like it anywhere else. When Bishop William Willimon became the bishop of the North Alabama Conference and left his position as dean of the chapel at Duke University, someone asked him what he missed most about Duke. And with absolutely no sarcasm, he said that he missed the admissions department at Duke University. His reason was because the admissions department kept people out that “should not have been there.” And Bishop Willimon went on to explain that there is no admissions department in the church. “In the church,” he said, “you just have to work with whomever shows up.” And not only is that true; it is beautiful. When we live like that, not only do we Celebrate Canton, we Celebrate Church.
In Christ,