This Friday and Saturday, I went and visited a former student at Maranatha who was my roommate about 3 1/2 years ago. We hadn't seen each other in about 3 years, though he has visited Maranatha a couple of times since deciding to go to college locally (Chicago-ish). We had a blast this weekend just hanging out, talking theology, music, ecumenicalism, as well as getting to see his heart and passion for the salvation of souls.
I also met his wife. They've been married for about 7 months now. I'm so glad to see all of my friends with good, godly wives. It was a joy to meet her, talk to her, find out about her life and how God has brought her to the place she is currently at, spiritually. She is very much perfect for my friend.
While there in Chicago, my friend's dad, through another family at his church, was able to procure tickets to go the Ravinia Music Festival, held nightly by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra throughout the summer. On our particular evening, the music presented was Shostakovich- Symphony No. 15 in A major and Tchaikovsky- Symphony No. 5 in E minor. This was the first time that I have had the opportunity to hear an orchestra of this caliber live (MBBC takes trips every semester to see the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, but I have always needed to work, instead).
Shostakovich's piece was not one which I was familiar with. It had some very complex meterical ideas in the last two movements. The thing that surprised me the most however was how tonal it was. I have heard and played other works by him and have had a hard time enjoying them, but this piece was readily enjoyable upon the first hearing of it. Like the previous two symphonies before it, Shostakovich is preparing musically for his impending death, due to failing health. However, unlike the other two symphonies, this one was less macrbre in sound (at least, according to my program notes as I have not listened to either of those symphonies...yet). It seems as though Shostakovich was more positively looking towards death in this symphony, based on my hearing of it. With quotes from William Tell Overture in the first movement and Tristan and Isolde in the fourth movement, it was quite a fascinating piece to hear.
As for the Tchaikovsky No. 5, hearing this piece brought back a host of memories from almost 2 years ago now when the MBBC Orchestra did the Night of Russia concert, featuring the works of Tchaikovsky, of which Symphony No. 5 was but a part. Most memories were pleasant, until the Chicago Symphony Orchestra started the third movement, of which I am still unable to play to this day. Though I wish we could have, the woodwinds were too exposed and I was too faulty in my playing of that movement for us to play it in our Night of Russia concert. Needless to say, I was wishing I currently had the ability to play it as the professional 1st chair bassoonist had. This next sentence is to my friends who play french horn: you would have much enjoyed the solo in the second movement. By all accounts, my ear claims it was played perfectly, if not near to it. The tone of the professional french horn player was someting that every french horn player at MBBC would be drooling over.
Saturday morning, I went to a prayer/ breakfast meeting with my friend, who is a member of the Gideon Bible Society. The prayer meeting and breakfast were both very encouraging. It was a spiritual blessing to talk with these men and to see their passion for lost souls and the need to get God's Word out to those who are stumbling in the darkness of this world. I have to admit some concerns about the more ecumenical nature of the Society, which I would be uncomfortable with if I was a member. On a personal level, however, these were good, godly men who I have no problem counting as my brothers in Christ. It was a blessing to pray with them and to talk with them about our Great God.
While out and about at Target on Saturday, we had the opportunity to pass out some Tracts/ Gospel of John booklets to the those at the registers taking our money. I'll be honest with you, given what I've seen here in Watertown as far as response to tracts, I didn't really expect much as I handed mine to the lady that took my money. We got to the registers, and I just went straight to the first line that seemed the shortest, and just as the lady was cashing out the order in front of me, I noticed another lady a line over who looked bored out of her mind. So, I went around to her line and had her ring up my order. As she took my signed receipt from my debit card, I asked her if she'd like something to read in her spare time, and she said sure. She took it, and no sooner was I by the exit doors waiting for my friends, and she was reading it. But, as she opened it, I noticed her bend down closer to the book and it appeared as though she was intensly reading what was before her as she opened the book to the page asking if she knew the meaning of her life (which then leads into a Gospel presentation). I went ahead and left with my friend's wife, as she checked out of her line next, and we walked to the car. When my friend came out five minutes later, he said that as he walked out of the store, she was still reading it. PRAISE THE LORD! I don't know if that woman accepted Christ or not, but we determined on the way home that something should be put in the back of the booklets so that someone could call his church after reading that literature. This would allow someone who's read it to get plugged in to a good godly church, should they receive Christ as Savior. If nothing else, maybe they'll visit the church after reading the material and receive Christ as Savior after hearing God's Word preached at church.
All in all, it was a very fun, enjoyable weekend. Spiritual blessings abounded both Friday and Saturday as we spent time together. Though I hate the fact that I lost out on a lot of money by not working this weekend, the eternal blessings I recieved were worth far more than what I lost out on monetarily. These memories will stick with me for the rest of my life. As a believer, I always enjoy hanging out with my friends far more than working in the world.
Once my friend's wife has the pictures developed and sent to me from her camera (I about kicked myself several times throughout the trip for not bringing my own), I will post a group picture of all of us at Ravinia.