A year ago, I was honored when my brother and his fiancé asked if I would be willing to get ordained on the internet and write and perform their wedding ceremony the following June. Honored because they are amazing people and I felt that their love was as beautiful a topic to write on as I could ask for.

The online ordination is not immediate (someone at the church must review your application—they emphasize that a website cannot ordain you), but it’s close, and the process carries about as much weight as becoming a notary public. You become a person distinguished from others only by your authorization to sign certain official documents. The church I selected believes in freedom of religion and being good to people, with a few vague references to a higher power thrown in (the degree and specificity of these references seems to be the main thing that varies among online layperson-ordaining churches).

As I filled out the generic online form and absorbed the site’s language, I began to think of the verb meaning of minister. As a verb, ministering is something anyone can choose to do at any time—any moment of compassion, of taking responsibility for each other. The mundane and unpublicized of these are the most sustaining and precious. But after I delivered the address at the wedding, I realized that what I wrote was meaningful to many of the guests, and may even have had a touch of ministering in it. Writing is what I have always done, and this little touch of encouragement led me to send some prose out into the world. If you’ve found this in the sea of content you’re surrounded by on the internet, thanks for reading.

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