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.

June 2021 Newsletter (Year B)

Pastor Bruce Benson

June makes me think of dirt. January does not.

I know from having lived in New England, the Pacific Northwest, Montana, and briefly in Alabama that seasons do not unfold the same in every place. Here in the upper Midwest, October makes me think of leaves, in December it's snow, March is full of slush, but come May and June it's earth/soil/dirt. (And I say that not just because we have a dog.) This is the season when it feels good to get your hands dirty in rich topsoil. To plant something. Even to pull a few weeds and breathe in the aroma of rain softened earth. Many people have rediscovered such pleasure during the pandemic.

There is something satisfyingly elemental about working in the soil. It's a satisfaction stirred up in part, perhaps, by happy childhood memories of playing make-believe in the dirt, but there is likely more than that involved. The book of Genesis suggests an ancient notion, difficult to articulate but not to feel, that we somehow come from the soil. Not exactly a "Soils 'R Us" sort of thing, but "Soils 'R Life" isn't too far off. No matter how high we might rise in our dreams, achievements or grandiosity, we do not escape our rootedness in the soil. "Earth to earth ..." is a rather grim reminder of that reality, but the other side of the same coin is the gratifying feeling of plunging your hands into fragrant humus to transplant a geranium, or poke a few bean seeds into the ground, and reclaim some of the sweetness of life from a long bitter pandemic. Earth isn't just where life ends, it is also a beginning place.

That two-sidedness marks not only in our relationship with the soil, but also with the Bible and music. Music, like a handful of topsoil, has a remarkable capacity to express both our unease and our ease, our lament of the human condition as seen from one perspective, and our willing embrace of life seen from another. Music both mourns and celebrates, yearns for what is not, and finds peace in the midst of what is.

And it goes almost without saying that the Biblical message shares that same both/and aspect of soil and music. It's almost like an old hymn with a refrain. The stanzas lay out all the ways the world is full of trouble, most of it of our own making, while the refrain is always grace, forgiveness and love, grace, forgiveness and love. May and June like singing the refrain.

On the first Sunday in June — lovely, green, full-of-life June — the Psalm of the day seems at first not to fit. It is Psalm 130: "Out of the depths I cry to you." But don't judge it too quickly; the psalm concludes by saying, "with the Lord there is steadfast love and plenteous redemption."

June: play in the dirt, plant something, and sing for joy.

Peace be with you,

Bruce Benson

Pastor Bruce Benson

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Lanterns in Boe Chapel

Memorials and Honorariums

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


Sid Berg

Arly Boyum, who died on Jan. 1, 2021

Rebecca Bingham Carnes

Albert and Norma Eickmann

Arthur and Velma Johnshoy

Marian W. Kinzinger RN

Beverly E. Lawton

Marcus Lehman

Gertrude (Lundblad) Ness

Arthur and Erna Raap

Jean Ellen White

Sandra J. Zylstra


Anton Armstrong, in thanks for his constant guidance and inspiration!

Frontline providers Bruce C. Kinzinger MD and Lena A. Kinzinger RN

Rev. Thomas and Candace Prochaska

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