Thursday, September 17, 2009

The Newly Crowned, Justin & Christine Matulewicz

On September 12th, I took part in the wedding of my two good friends, Justin Matulewicz & Christine Rabe. They're a wonderful couple that my wife Tara and I are very close to and I'm really excited to see them begin their new lives together.

I first met Justin sometime in the fall of 2006, shortly after I had gotten married and moved into the city. I was first introduced to Justin while he was a student at Temple University, where Tara is the Director of Campus Ministry. Back in '06, his hair was a little out of control and his goatee was about a foot long. Sometime during Justin's college career, he joined my church, liberti, so I started seeing him around regularly.

In the spring of 2007, I took part in a liberti seminar that was designed to help the congregation determine where we might be best suited to serve our community and our neighbors. I recall that one of the needs mentioned among the many was the discipleship of younger people, specifically college students. At one point, we broke up into groups of about ten and went around the circle, discussing where we felt God might be calling each of us to serve. I really didn't have much of a clue at the time so when it was my turn to share, I turned to the guy at my left, who randomly happened to be Justin, and sarcastically said, "I want to disciple that guy!" I went home afterward and thought nothing of it. Two days later I got a phone call. It was Justin. The first thing he said to me in his typically excited Justin inflection was, "So yeah man, let's do this!" I didn't have any idea what he was talking about. He said, "Discipleship!" Only then did I remember my little remark from the seminar a few days before. Totally caught off guard, I responded with, "Um sure, why not?"

What followed over the next two years turned out to be an amazing time of dual-discipleship as we both ministered to each others' needs and struggles in a number of encouraging and sometimes difficult ways, thereby pushing each other to grow as men of God and men of character. We both realized we had a lot in common and a lot not in common, which helped us form the foundation of a tremendous friendship and brotherhood.

Somewhere in the middle of all this, Justin began pursuing a few different girls. At the time, I started getting a little bit of that big brother fear that he'd end up with the wrong woman. One day, he started telling me all about this girl named Christine, who he'd met through some friends. The thing that seemed to excite him most -- other than the fact that he found her really attractive -- was that she really helped him address his struggles head on and wouldn't dance around important issues. She was lovingly blunt to his face when necessary, which I think Justin found rather hot. Not only that, but she appeared to really want to get to know the many layers and facets that make up Justin's unique personality. Clearly, this was no surfacy girl. Long story short, I approved!

After Justin and Christine got engaged in late 2008, I was humbled and floored when Justin asked me to be his Best Man. Their wedding and reception were to be outdoors at Bartram's Garden, a beautiful botanical setting in Southwest Philadelphia that overlooks the city's skyline. On the day of the wedding rehearsal, the rain poured down on us as we walked through the details of the ceremony. Needless to say, there was a little tension about whether or not we would all have to cram into the nearby barn the next day in order to keep the bride, her bridesmaids, and the guests from getting drenched. I can speak for the groom's party in that we didn't really care much about the rain. We're men. We shower, shave, get dressed, and we're good to go!

The boys...

The day of the wedding, it lightly drizzled right up to the start of the ceremony and then completely cleared up! I was honored and excited to stand up front with Justin and the rest of the boys to witness not just a culmination, but the start of a new beginning. The day before, Justin had given me the two wedding rings to keep on me until they were to be needed during the ceremony. I can honestly say I've never been more nervous to hold onto anyone's possessions than I was to be in charge of those freaking rings! I checked my pockets about fifty times before even leaving the house that afternoon, and at least another hundred when we got to the wedding location. It didn't matter that I could clearly feel the rings in my that point, full OCD had taken over. When our pastor, Steve Huber, got to the part in the ceremony about the rings being a sign of Justin and Christine's commitment to each other, I had never been more relieved than to get those two little objects out of my pocket and into their hands.

The whole crew...

And with that, Justin and Christine were husband and wife and the celebration officially began! I gave my Best Man speech at the reception, and even though I was pretty nervous about speaking in front of a crowd, I think it went over well. I spent the rest of the night in great company and ate a lot of good food. The wedding cake, in particular, was exceptional! Before Justin and Christine departed the reception to the farewell tune of Queen's "We Are The Champions," I took part, along with the rest of the bridesmaids and groomsmen, in the age old tradition of "decorating" the bride and groom's car.

One of the most exciting things about Justin and Christine getting married is that they are now both officially my neighbors, having just bought a house right down the street from mine! I'm looking forward to all the great years ahead as we live in community together.

Congratulations to the newly crowned, Justin & Christine Matulewicz!

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