When I was a child comic books were one of the profound joys in my life. I well recall how pleased I was with the first issue of Spiderman, but that's another story. One of the ads which appeared in the back of almost every comic book I bought in the late fifties and early sixties offered to make anyone an ordained minister for the princely sum of ten dollars. Fast forward to around 2006 when I came across the Universal Life Church on the internet. They looked mysteriously familiar. I can't swear they're the same folks who were in the back of the comic books but, thinking they probably were, feeling nostalgic about it and because it's free these days (instead of being $10), I applied and received my certificate of ordination. I printed it out on card stock, then I carefully reduced the image and printed out another copy for my wallet. A few weeks back, just joking around, I showed the wallet card to some friends and, to my surprise, was asked to perform the wedding ceremony by a young couple I know. I then checked with the courthouse to find out that, yes, I can legally marry people.
Today I performed that ceremony and was profoundly moved by the experience. While freely admitting that my track record with marriage isn't all it could be, I remain a strong believer in the sanctity and power of marriage. I believe that marriage marks the beginning of life's most precious journey. I won't reprint the entire service here, though I may eventually post it to my website, but here are the words which were so powerful that saying them moved me almost to tears.
"By the power of your love for one another, before God and in accordance with the laws of the state of Texas I now pronounce you man and wife. You may now seal your union with a kiss"
I've played the guitar in front of thousands of people without feeling the least bit nervous but officiating over the marriage of two young people with perhaps a hundred onlookers was terrifying and yet exhilarating beyond description. My authenticity as a Reverend may be ethically questionable but this wedding was as real as it gets (and 100% legal in the state of Texas). Life is good, love is wonderful.