This Saturday, we are taking a couple to the South Dakota symphony.

And, like every Saturday evening that we take a couple to the symphony, we will raise our glasses to Walt and Jan Bouman.

Walt was a professor of mine in seminary, and in most every way was larger than life.  In size alone, his height and girth (with all due respect, Walt) conveyed authority.

And then he opened his mouth, and it quickly because clear why it was said often about him that he forgot more than most people ever knew.

Walt and Jan were committed to making the world a better place.

They had a bedroom in their basement, and when it was empty, they opened it to someone without a home, believing it made no sense to have people with no beds and beds with no people.

Jan was a fine teacher in the Columbus School District.  They lived on his salary, and gave hers away.  While teachers never make enough, it made a healthy enough deduction to get audited lots.  They gave the money to the seminary, to the Church, to the Democrats, to Public Radio, to Bread for the World, and to whomever else they thought was serving the reign of God.

But here’s what else they did:

Students knew they could line up at the Bouman door at around 4:00 (“It’s 5:00 somewhere,” he always said somewhat defensively) to be served nuts and martinis, or manhattans, if that were their preferred libation.

(Let it be known I make damn good martinis and manhattans, thanks to Walt’s mentorship.)

And, per our impending Saturday date with the South Dakota Symphony, Walt and Jan also bought season tickets to the Columbus Symphony.

They bought a block of four.

And each concert night, they invited a different couple to join them for dinner first at a five-star joint, Handke’s usually, I believe.

The fine wine, fine food, and fine music was on them.

It was, because the evening was a matter of stewardship too.

Jan and Walt firmly believed that providing a bed to the homeless and money to organizations bent on serving others demonstrated the reign of God.

So does friendship fostered over gourmet cuisine and gourmet music.

I decided to do the same thing for spell in Sioux Falls: invite good friends, sometimes people I’d like to know better.

And I always pay, and people are always a bit uncomfortable with that.

People are usually uncomfortable with grace, I’ve decided.

And we enjoy a feast and laughter and raw stories and a brisk walk to the concert hall and then we sit back and become enthralled with the musicians before us who somehow always transport us away, and bring us home, albeit a bit changed.

The entire night tends to do that.  The gathered are transported away to another place, transformed just a bit by the evening, and somehow unable to help but steward the experience beyond the night.

That is, looking back on something in which one has participated and saying, “That was very good,” makes one want to bring forth a bit more goodness…not because one has to, but because one can’t help but to radiate forth what one has encountered by surprise and by grace.

Try it now.

It’s 5:00 somewhere.