Weekend In New Jersey

Julie and I spent this past weekend in Princeton, New Jersey, celebrating her 30th college reunion.

We made the same trip in 2008 when we celebrated her 25th, and at that time I posted some thoughts here.

We met on that college campus, got married in that college chapel, and spent the first three years of our married lives living near that college town.

This year’s trip had a couple of personal highlights. And that matters because it’s no big deal to celebrate your 29th college reunion . . . my bigger deal on that score will come next year.

On Friday we shared lunch with Matt Ristuccia, who is currently the pastor of the Westerly Road Church  in Princeton.  But back in the day (meaning, the very early 80s), he was one of the leaders of the Princeton Evangelical Fellowship, a campus group dedicated to the spiritual needs of students.

As a freshman, I immediately took a liking to Matt, and he became instrumental in my discipleship while an undergrad.  So it was only fitting that when Julie and I got married, Matt was the one to lead the ceremony.  Which he did.  On a 100 degree day in 1984.  In a Gothic Cathedral with no air conditioning.  Whatever honorarium I gave him that day, it wasn’t enough.

So the three of us shared memories of what life was like back then and compared notes on what parish ministry is like now in Princeton, New Jersey as opposed to Charlotte, North Carolina. 

While the locales might be different, I think we realized that the dynamics of ministry are much the same: glorious highs coupled with the kind of challenging lows that make you understand why the song is Amazing Grace and not Amazing Skill.  

Later on Friday, we got together with tennis team friends Ken Katz and Steve Feinberg.   They always did like Julie more than me:

The four of us talked late into the night on the Viewing Deck of the tennis stadium — a structure that didn’t even exist when we were in school — and swapped stories of matches we won and those we lost as well as the cast of characters who made it all so unforgettable.

So many things converged on that night:  North & South, Jew & Gentile, baseliner(s) & serve-and-volleyer, Psych major & English major, corporate financier & congregational pastor . . . yet all held together by the common thread of a small yellow ball.

And by that elusive desire to stay forever young.