Several months ago, two different parishioners each gave me a copy of The Book of Joy, and then a third, unrelated person, asked me whether I’d read it. Their enthusiasm is well placed! It’s a fantastic book about a week-long encounter and dialogue between Archbishop Desmond Tutu and the Dalai Lama. If you’re looking for something to help make meaning out of these chaotic days, and to foster the sort of attitude that creates joy and compassion even in hardship (which is to say, everyone!), this is a book worth reading.

I’ve been thinking a lot about something the Dalai Lama says in it, about how to wake up with consistent joy and meaning. “I think if you are an intensely religious believer, as soon as you wake up, you thank God for another day. And you try to do God’s will…as soon as I wake up, I remember Buddha’s teaching: the importance of kindness and compassion, wishing something good for others, or at least to reduce their suffering. Then I remember that everything is interrelated, the teaching of interdependence. So then I set my intention for the day: that this day should be meaningful. Meaningful means, if possible, serve and help others. If not possible, then at least not to harm others. That’s a meaningful day (64, emphasis mine).”

Using that wonderful and simple definition, I am profoundly grateful for the meaningful life and ministry of the Rev. Michael Merriman. For 50 years as an ordained Episcopal priest, including over 13 here among us, Fr. Michael has sought to serve and help others, to foster the faith of people in his care, and to nurture the compassionate, loving reality of the Kingdom of God. He has prayed, taught, preached, counseled, and laughed with countless people around the world, from Texas to Australia. His life has been enormously meaningful, and this weekend we will celebrate both he and Cherrie, as Michael retires from active ministry. I hope you’ll come to church this weekend to worship with us, to hear Michael preach, and to be there as we present he and Cherrie with some tokens of affection and gratitude. Following the 11:15 service, there will be a reception in the Parlor, and I hope everyone will come and join in the celebration.

I also hope you’ll take time to peruse the Ministry Fair, which will be set up around the halls, featuring information and representatives from dozens of ministries here at Transfiguration. We are all called to meaningful lives! To wake each day thankful for the opportunity to do God’s will, to serve and help others, to reduce suffering in the world, and to live compassionately. If you’re looking for more meaning and purpose, or new ways to connect here at Transfiguration, come to the Ministry Fair!