Newsletter Archives

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 to subscribe.

December 2019 Newsletter (Year A)

Pastor Bruce Benson

A Barn Shall Harbor Heaven

A stable-lamp is lighted
Whose glow shall wake the sky;
The stars shall bend their voices,
And every stone shall cry.
And every stone shall cry,
And straw like gold shall shine;
A barn shall harbor heaven,
A stall become a shrine.

-Richard Wilbur

Richard Wilbur's Christmas text above will be sung on the Sing For Joy program prepared for the Third Sunday in Advent this year, but earlier in the year, back in August, it suddenly came to my mind in the middle of the Minnesota State Fair. No, I was not at a display of Christmas ornaments, nor was I walking past a booth playing Christmas music; I wasn't even in an animal barn with stalls and straw. I was just casually walking along a street somewhere around the Department of Natural Resources building and the little temporary studios where local TV stations host their news broadcasts. Right where I was not expecting to see a farm structure, I saw one. It looked like a Sukup grain storage building. I walked around a corner, and sure enough: it was a metal Sukup grain building. Except, it wasn't.

It was a round, metal Sukup building, alright, and it seemed perfectly obvious to me that it was a grain storage building, but it wasn't. When I walked inside and talked to the people seated at a small desk, I was shown how it had been modified just enough to make it a house suitable for human habitation. It was called a Safe T Home.

I've known for several years that the primary sponsor of Sing For Joy, The Sukup Manufacturing Company, has been modifying their sturdy grain storage units for emergency housing in areas hit by disaster (I've written about it once before) but I had not been inside one until this day at the fair. Now, here I was, standing in a farm building where a human family would be welcome, where a new mother, with no place else to go, could find shelter for her newborn. That's when — pretty much without my mental permission or invitation — my mind flew to Richard Wilbur's poem, or the poem flew to me. "A barn shall harbor heaven, a stall become a shrine." And of course it flew on wings of music.

I know that a Safe T Home in Haiti in 2019 is not a stable in Bethlehem centuries ago, but the One born in the long-ago stable treated the poor and vulnerable around him as if they too had some holiness about them, as if they too were children of God. Where a Sukup Safe T Home protects those who would otherwise be homeless, can it not still be said poetically that "a barn shall harbor heaven?"

May Advent and Christmas be seasons of blessing for you and God's whole loved world.            


Peace be with you,

Bruce Benson

Pastor Bruce Benson


Pastor Benson steps inside a Safe T Home at Sukup Manufacturing earlier this fall during the Sing For Joy team visit.

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Lanterns in Boe Chapel

Memorials and Honorariums

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Alvin & Beulah Rueter

Pastor Alvin Charles Rueter (1921-2008), founder of Sing For Joy, on the 98th anniversary of his birth

LeRoy Sanders


Sonja (Storvick) Hagestuen '60

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