This Month's Newsletter

The monthly Sing For Joy newsletter contains a letter from the program's host, Pastor Bruce Benson, along with a listing of music selections for each program and the corresponding scripture readings. If you'd like to receive a complimentary subscription, fill out our online request form for either the print newsletter or the electronic newsletter.

November 2017 Newsletter (Year A)
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Judgment Day Reflections, by Pastor Bruce Benson

If I had written this letter a few days earlier I could have written without the painful images of Las Vegas haunting all of us. I wish I had. But I’d have to have written even earlier to avoid also the images of devastation in Puerto Rico from Hurricane Maria. And still earlier to avoid Irma. And before that Harvey. And ... you see the problem. It never ends.

From time to time, all of us, I suppose, wonder if there is some rhyme or reason to all the destruction and death. It can feel like judgment, like some force in the universe must be displeased with us. And goodness knows we all harbor enough inadequacy, guilt and regret that we are never more than a small step away from wondering if disaster is our own deserved comeuppance. I am certainly not about to suggest that human beings have no sin. Quite the opposite. But there is another side to this story too, another biblical side. 

During November, the Sunday Bible readings assigned by the Revised Common Lectionary (the schedule of reading we follow on Sing For Joy) turn to themes of judgment and end times. It will be difficult for many to hear some of those texts and not wonder, at least a little, about the recent heavy load of destructiveness we’ve witnessed in our land. The Hebrew Bible reading for November 5th, for example, says that “Zion shall be plowed as a field; Jerusalem shall become a heap of ruins.” And two weeks later the prophet Zephaniah will say, “Their wealth shall be plundered and their houses laid waste.” It can be hard to hear that language from the Bible and not flash to images of Puerto Rico or some neighborhoods of Houston as “a heap of ruins,” all those “houses laid waste.” 

While it is true that actions have consequences, not all of those consequences need to be laid at the feet of God; our actions have their own consequences. If there is blame to be laid for them, we’ll have to set that blame down in front of our own feet. 

What then do we make of the judgment passages we hear on the Sundays in November? Once again, I believe that the notion of “singability” helps us find an answer. If we can sing about the judgment we have probably understood it in the right way; if not, something is still missing. Our own actions (and earth’s natural processes) cause plenty of destruction, it is hard to find anything singable about that, and the prophets do not sing when they are calling people to account. However, when they announce that God is not at peace with injustice, neglect of the poor, the corruption of political, economic or religious power, when they say that all of that will come crashing down on “the day of the Lord,” they are proclaiming good news, not bad, to every neglected, forgotten, exploited person within hearing distance, and perhaps to all life itself. They are singing. Hurricanes and mass shootings are not “the day of the Lord.” The end of oppression and injustice is. That’s why we sing about it. Sing for joy!

Peace be with you,

 

 

 

Pastor Bruce Benson

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November Playlists and Programs

Playlists are ready now, and each show will become available to stream on the Friday before the week begins.

November 5, 2017: Time After Pentecost — Lectionary 31 (Year A)

November 12, 2017: Time After Pentecost — Lectionary 32 (Year A)

November 19, 2017: Time After Pentecost — Lectionary 33 (Year A)

November 26, 2017: Christ the King, Last Sunday After Pentecost — Lectionary 34 (Year A)

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Listener Letters

"Sing For Joy is a Sunday morning ritual and helps us to prepare for worship at our church."
-Hickory, North Carolina

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-Facebook

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-St. Peter, Minnesota

"I have been listening to Sing For Joy for many years ... One of my seminary classmates said that listening to Sing For Joy was like a reward for doing your homework. As a pastor who usually followed the lectionary for a sermon, I continued to feel that way about the program up until retirement."
-Kalispell, Montana

Lanterns and candle on altar of Boe Memorial Chapel at St. Olaf College
Memorials and Honorariums

Thank you for your gifts in memory and honor of those close to your heart.

IN MEMORY OF:

J. Robb Bartlett, my husband

Our granddaughter's daddy, Gary Cantrell

Royce R.J. Frierdich

my mother, Jane Ingles

Alice Kleiboeker

G. Leland Ralph

my cousin and Ole grad '53: Olive Jacobson Theisen

IN HONOR OF:

Pastor Bruce Benson

my children: James, Jonathan, Rebecca, Mark

Pr. Matthew Marohl and Pr. Katherine Fick

the people of Puerto Rico

Dr. and Mrs. Russell

Rev. Peter Wallace

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Sing For Joy is sponsored by:

Sukup Manufacturing Co., St. Olaf College, and American Choral Directors Association (ACDA)