Frame Memorial Presbyterian Church Chaos Sunday 2009


September 20 2009 Third Week of the Season of Creation – Chaos 9:30 a.m.









*CALL TO WORSHIP [Each line, both parts, at the same time]

Leader: In the beginning

People: God

Leader: When God began creating

Men: It was formless Women: It was empty

Men: It was void Women: It was dark

Men: Waste Women: Wild

Men: Unsightly Women: Confused

Leader: In the beginning

People: God

Leader: When God began creating

People: It was chaos.

Leader: As we begin,

All: God, begin in us.


*OPENING HYMN “Wade In the Water” Insert



We like our lives well-ordered, God – a place for everything and everything in its place. We're uncomfortable with ambiguity, with processes, with becoming. We like to know what's what and to be able to name things: good, bad, right, wrong, red, blue. We like to be able to categorize things, and we believe that when we have, we understand them. We do the same with people, and with you, O God. We want to tame the world, we want to tame ideas, we would like to tame you.

Forgive us for our impatience with complexity, our fear of that which we can't control, our discomfort with process, our distrust of people and ideas that defy categories, our fear of chaos. Open us to your continuing work in us, and grant us the courage to join with you in the continuing work of creation.


*ASSURANCE OF FORGIVENESS adapted from Isaiah 43

Do not fear, says our God, when you go through the tumult, the terrors, the undoing, the mess, the chaos...I am with you.

We walk with God.

You are precious in God's sight, and God loves you.

We are God's.

God will begin a new thing in you.

We are God's, God loves us. God is creating us still.


*RESPONSE (“Spirit of the Living God” #322)

Spirit of the Living God, fall afresh on me; Spirit of the Living God, fall afresh on me; Melt me, mold me, fill me, use me; Spirit of the Living God, fall afresh on me.



The peace of Christ be with you all. And also with you.

(You may share Christ’s peace by saying “Peace be with you,” and/or with a handshake or hug.)



Children ages 4-2nd grade may attend Children’s Church in the fellowship hall,

or they may stay for the entire service.






FIRST SCRIPTURE LESSON 2 Corinthians 4:8-12 (p. 138)

The Word of the Lord. Thanks be to God.




SECOND SCRIPTURE LESSON Genesis 1:1-5 (p. 1)

The Word of the Lord. Thanks be to God.


SERMON “Chaos and Creation” Rev. Zencka




*HYMN “Crashing Waters at Creation” Insert



Please take a moment to sign the red friendship pads and pass them to others in your pew.





RESPONSE (“Holy, Holy, Holy” verse 4, #138)

Holy, holy, holy! Lord God Almighty! All Thy works shall praise Thy name, in earth and sky and sea; Holy, Holy, Holy! Merciful and mighty! God in three persons, blessed Trinity!





Ground of all being, Mother of life, Father of the universe,

Your name is sacred, beyond speaking.

May we know your presence,

May your longings be our longings

In heart and in action.

May there be food for the human family today

And for the whole earth community.

Forgive us the falseness of what we have done

As we forgive those who are untrue to us.

Do not forsake us in our time of conflict

But lead us into new beginnings.

For the light of life, the vitality of life, and the glory of life are yours

now and forever. Amen

[This version comes from the Casa del Sol community of Ghost Ranch in Abiquiu, New Mexico.]




*HYMN “There's a Sweet, Sweet Spirit” #398





Halle, halle, halle-lujia; Halle, halle, halle-lujia!

Halle, halle, halle-lujia; halle-lujia, halle-lujia!




*Please stand, as able

WE WELCOME YOU to our church life and hope that the following information will help you to feel comfortable worshipping with us:

• Please sign the Friendship pad in the pew and pass it along to meet other worshippers.

• Our nursery is available for children age 4 and under from 8:15 A.M. to 11:15. Personal hearing aids, large print bulletins and Hymnals are available from the ushers.

• Please join us in the Fellowship Hall downstairs following worship for coffee, cookies and conversation.

• If you have prayer requests write them on blue sheets, pass them to the outer aisles, and place in basket passed at offering time.

THANKS TO THOSE SERVING US TODAY!! Fellowship hour is hosted this morning by Cynny Porter . Ushers are the Don and Julia King family.


WE WELCOME Dan Mitchell, and thank him for arranging for the “creative chaos” of Jazz Sunday today.


A NEW MEMBER CLASS will be held on Sunday, September 27 from 5-7 pm – this is the place to learn more about the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), Frame Church, and ways that you might get involved. Dinner will be served, so please RSVP to the church office or to Rev. Zencka if you are interested in attending.


FRAME CHOIR OPEN TO ALL Rehearsals are at 7:00 pm on Wednesday evenings. The choir not only makes beautiful music, they have a lot of fun!


FALL CLEAN-UP/ WORK DAY. Building and Grounds has scheduled Fall Clean-Up for Saturday, September 26th from 9:00 a.m. until noon, weather permitting. We will do some weeding, pruning, raking and also paint the shed!!! Alternate/rain date will be October 3rd. A sign-up sheet is posted in the hall. Sign up (preferably) or just show up. Bring your favorite garden tools. Coffee, juice and donut holes will be provided.


ALL COMMITTEE DAY will be Saturday, October 10, from 8:30-12:30. There will be time for each committee to have its own hour-long meeting, time for the committees to share information, time for committee members to share in our strategic planning process, Frame the Future, and time for lunch. We hope to have all committee members participate in this time together.


CHILDREN'S CHURCH: Building from Preschool Sunday School and our new Practice-Based Christian Education program, we are introducing Children’s Church this fall! After the "Moment with Children," kids ages 4-grade 2 are invited to experience a kid-oriented form of worship. Children will learn more about what worship means and why it is important. Children’s Church will include a sharing time, singing, a short Bible lesson, an offering and a small craft or activity. All children will re-join their families in the sanctuary for Communion on those Sundays when it is served.


PLACE OF PEACE MEAL: SEPT 24TH Frame is sponsoring a meal at the Place of Peace Thursday, Sept 24th. We will be cooking brats and hot dogs. There are two ways to help:

1. If you can cook and serve on the day of the meal, please be at the Place of Peace, 1401 Ellis Street, at 4:00 PM on Sept. 24th.

2. If you can buy or prepare food, drop your food items off at the Place of Peace around 4:00 PM on Sept. 24th. Use the entrance that says Place of Peace. Or bring your food items to Frame between Sunday, Sept. 20th and Thursday, September 24th.

If you are available to help, please sign up on the sheet outside the office.


SIGN UP TO HOST FELLOWSHIP TIME we are looking for Coffee Hour hosts during the coming months. Please consider signing up on the sheet down in Fellowship Hall. If you have never volunteered for this before and want a "veteran" to help you, please let the office know and we will find someone to partner up with you. If you are new to the church this is a good way to get to know people!


OVER THE SPEED LIMIT seniors will meet on Thursday, September 24th at 9:00 a.m. at the Blue Top Restaurant for breakfast. All those who are free at this time are welcome to join us. Please sign up on the sheet outside of the office so that we know how many places to reserve. THANKS!



THINKING GREEN about Thomas Jefferson’s foresight. “For if one link in nature’s chain might be lost, another might be lost, until the whole of things will vanish by piecemeal.”


SUPPORT FRAME'S YOUTH GROUP! We've doubled in size and we need help preparing meals for our youth group! We have some fall dates still available. Please sign up to prepare a meal for around 15-20 people on a Wednesday night. Menus are available. If you have questions, please contact Susan Barrett or Penny Schmitt at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or 570-5357.


WOMEN'S BOOK GROUP STARTS AGAIN - Any and all women of Frame Church are welcome to join in the Women's Book Group. It meets weekly and will be resuming after a summer hiatus on September 23. Meetings are Wednesdays at 6 pm in the church library.

We will be beginning the book Goddesses in Older Women: Archetypes in Women Over Fifty (Becoming a Juicy Crone) by Jean Shinoda Bolen, M.D. The summary on the book's back cover reads: "At some point after fifty, every woman crosses a threshold into the third phase of her life. As she enters this uncharted territory - one that is generally uncelebrated in popular culture - she can choose to mourn what has gone before, or she can embrace the juicy-crone years."


PHOTO DIRECTORY All members and friends of Frame, please sign up at to have your photo taken for the new directory. Beginning next Sunday, September 27 through October 18, you may sign up before or after church. There will be someone from Membership Committee to do this through the computer.


BLESSING OF THE ANIMALS On Sunday, October 4, at 4:00 pm there will be a Blessing of the Animals in the east yard of the church. Animals, please bring a human with you.


OUR OFFICE MANAGER, Kathy will be on vacation September 21 - 25. Volunteers will be staffing the office, but you may want to call ahead if you are planning on stopping by.



OCTOBER 4 MISSION FAIR The Mission Committee will be hosting a Mission Fair on Sunday, October 4th following our church service, which is World Wide Communion Sunday. Please join us for "muffins for mission". Our grant recipients as well as those projects that have been a part of our ministry at Frame will be participating in the fair. The Greater Gift Sale will also take place. At this time we invite you to order directly from the catalogs. Your gift items will be sent to the church and we will ensure that you receive them in time for the holidays.


FLOWER SIGN UP POLICY If you sign up, the office will order flowers from Bev’s Floral, unless notified otherwise. The cost is $22.50. On the bottom of your check, write flowers.


REMINDER – If you have a meeting in the building during the week or after services on Sunday, please make sure all the doors are locked and the lights turned off.



















Psalm 85:10, “Justice and peace shall kiss each other.”


October 4th is when we receive the Peacemaking Offering. On this day we join with Christians around the world to celebrate the unity that we find at the Table of the Lord. We also receive the Peacemaking Offering to support the efforts of our congregation, presbytery, synod, and denomination to spread the peace of Christ. Our congregation will use 25 percent of the offering for peacemaking activities. The other 75 percent will help our partners in the presbytery, synod, and General Assembly as they work on behalf of God's peacemaking throughout the world.


Today’s Worship Participants* & Frame Staff

Ministers Members of Frame* Pastor The Rev. Susan Gilbert Zencka*

CE & Youth Coordinator Susan Barrett Liturgist Ted Kowalski*

Interim Choir Director Bethany Myhre Office Manager Kathy Vroman

Guest Pianist Dan Mitchell Janitor Gerry Steltenpohl

Bookkeeper Pam Starzinski Nursery staff Jessie Reddy

Parish Associate The Rev. Dr. John Billings Nursery staff Gretchen Krans


Church office 715-341-3040

Fax 715-341-0171

Susan’s cell phone 219-689-7013


Email: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Email Pastor: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it



Office hours: Monday-Friday 8:30 am to noon; 12:30 pm to 4:00 pm



Sunday, September 20 8:30 AM Sunday School

9:30 AM Worship

11:00 AM Adult Forum

4:00 PM Buddhist Meeting

Monday, September 21 6:00 PM Mission Team

6:30 PM Narcotics Anonymous - Fellowship Hall

Tuesday, September 22 5:30 Session Potluck

6:00 PM Session

Wednesday, September 23 3:15 PM Youth Group

6:00 PM Women’s Book Group

7:00 PM Choir

Thursday, September 24 Over the Speed Limit @ Blue Top

Noon Men’s Book Study- @1800

Friday, September 25 5:30 PM Buddhist Meditation

6:30 PM Couples Recovery Group

Saturday, September 26 9:00 AM Fall Cleanup/Work Day

Sunday, September 27 8:30 AM Sunday School

9:30 AM Worship

11:00 AM Adult Forum

4:00 PM Buddhist Meeting

5:00 PM New Member Class




1300 Main Street

Stevens Point, WI 54481


a member of






We, the congregation of Frame Memorial Presbyterian Church of Stevens Point, Wisconsin welcome all who believe in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior to join us in worship and celebration—center of our faith community. We deny no one full participation in the life and leadership of the church on the basis of race, ethnic origin, worldly condition, age, gender, gender orientation, or any other particular of his or her humanity. We believe the errors of society which have resulted in oppression and despair are not the ways of God. And we seek not to judge our sisters and brothers in our journey of faith. Instead we seek enlightenment about the ways in which we can offer our support and our love to all children of God. Amen


Chaos and Creation

September 20, 2009

Rev. Susan Gilbert Zencka

Frame Memorial Presbyterian Church


Texts: 2 Corinthians 4:7-12; Genesis 1:1-5


Chaos...for many people the word itself creates images of disorder, anarchy, catastrophe. I don't get it. Indeed, I was very surprised once in a clergy seminar to realize that many (if not most) clergy shared this negative view of chaos – I've always thought of chaos as generative, as being a state of profound possibilities. So when one of our members suggested “chaos” as a theme for one of the Season of Creation Sundays, I was quite delighted, and now that I've reflected and read more about chaos, I find myself beginning to mine a rich vein of possibility and promise.


What is chaos? Biblically, it is that state described in the 2nd verse of Genesis 1: the earth was without form and void and darkness covered the face of the deep. Without form, void, darkness over the deep – the precreative condition. A state of profound potentiality; precedent to creativity.


So let's look at chaos, both biblically and scientifically (the science will be pretty elementary) and see what we can learn of God, of life, and ourselves.


Despite the description of the precreative state in verse two of Genesis – without form, void, and darkness covering the face of the deep – the orthodox doctrine of creation is that God created the world from nothing. The Latin form is the classic name for this doctrine – creation ex nihilo – out of nothing. This is such a standard theology now that it's hard to suspend that assumption, but come with me into the chaos of theological development. Catherine Keller's marvelous book, Face of the Deep: A Theology of Becoming, explains that for about 200 years in the Common Era, both Jewish and Christian theologians did not describe creation as being ex nihilo. Justin Martyr, a Jewish theologian, in fact described chaos as being unformed matter. The concise Oxford English Dictionary describes it similarly today: the second definition is “the formless matter supposed to have existed before the creation of the universe.” The first definition is “complete disorder and confusion.” In physics, the OED tells us chaos is “the property of a complex system whose behavior is so unpredictable as to appear random, owing to great sensitivity to small changes in conditions.” Chaos theory is described as “the branch of mathematics that deals with complex systems whose behavior is highly sensitive to slight changes in conditions, so that small alterations can give rise to great consequences.”


These latter definitions, from physics and math, of chaotic conditions as being so highly sensitive so that small changes in conditions can create great consequences – these seem to describe conditions of high potentiality. It turns out, however, according to Margaret Wheatley in Leadership and the New Science: Discovering Order in a Chaotic World, that even chaos theory recognizes order within the chaos. It turns out that chaotic systems, which initially appear to be unpredictable systems which never behave the same way twice, over time “demonstrate an inherent orderliness.” It turns out that these systems in fact do have order – boundaries within which the disorder occurs. So that rather than disorder and order being binary states that are mutually exclusive, Wheatley instead explains that “...order exists within disorder and disorder within order.”


In 1977, chemist Ilya Prigongine won the Nobel Prize for work that demonstrates that disorder can, in fact, provoke systems to greater order. His work showed that (quoting from Wheatley) “Disoirder becomes a critical player, an ally that can provoke a system to self-organize into new forms of being.” Order and chaos thus become partners in the change process. David Toolan, in his book At Home in the Cosmos, further describes Prigongine's work, explaining that in certain unstable systems, organization and random behavior coexist. In certain of these systems, there will be (quoting from Toolan) “...phases of instability which turn out to be moments of unpredictable creativity. It is the very instability – in effect, the 'noise' or chaos in the system – that provides the new principle of order, and thus a key to evolutionary change.” Toolan continues: “Think of all the matter in the universe as so many islands of order in a vast sea of turbulences or entropic energy. Under the right conditions, the tides of the vast sea overtake these islands or pockets of order, causing fluctuations, disturbances in the field. The new science of chaos suggests that we have to think of these fluctuations as being the seeds of a deeper level of pattern.” In other words, the chaos is a necessary step toward greater order.


In people, we can see this happening – periods of challenge and change can be the process through which we become more fully ourselves, having a keener sense of ourselves and our own integrity after a process that includes some turbulence. Paul describes some of these kinds of challenges in the passage that Ted read from Paul's second letter to the Corinthians this morning – we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be made visible in our bodies.... And just as we have seen disorder and order working together, so too, Paul describes death and life as being partners in a process occurring within each of us.


So, chaos then is not something to be feared, or escaped from, but a necessary state that we all pass through from time to time in the ongoing process of becoming. Or as Wheatley explains it: “...disorder can be a source of a new order, and ...growth appears from disequilibrium, not balance. The things we fear most in organizations—disruptions, confusions, chaos—need not be interpreted as signs that we are about to be destroyed. Instead, these conditions are necessary to awaken creativity.” I believe I may have shared the following example with you before, but it bears repeating. My mother, who is a potter, notes that often people look at the process of centering the clay on the wheel as being a good parallel to our spiritual experience – as we try to center ourselves in God. But she finds a more interesting parallel to be what occurs later in the process – as she is making a pot, she explains that in order to create the shape of the pot, she needs to first pull it off-center. That is how she enlarges the pot, and how the vessel acquires its shape. So too, Mom notes, do we acquire our identity and strength through those situations when we are pulled off-balance, and then adapt through a combination of the disequilibrium and our centeredness to become more fully ourselves.


The jazz process too requires a certain amount of unpredictability to develop a deeper sense of pattern – often, musically, there will be a sense of disequilibrium that becomes resolved. And the improvisation in jazz is, after all, a series of disruptions to the music through which a deeper pattern emerges.


Having exhausted my barely rudimentary understanding of physics, math, chemistry, psychology, art, and now jazz, I'd probably better return to what is for me safer ground: theology. And this is, indeed, the beauty of the Season of Creation – we can observe in the natural world, and these disciplines which describe the natural world: science and math, truths that echo what we discern theologically. And we find that the patterns that exist in science, math and theology also ring true in visual arts, music and psychology. Science and faith are not opposed – they are different languages for describing reality, which is both single and whole – that is, there are not multiple realities, but it is we who have multiple perspectives on the one reality. And that reality isn't divisible into science, art, music, religion – again, these are different ways of looking at and describing life.


And science may be providing theology the key to better understanding in the case of chaos. For a long time, people have tended to buy the first definition from my Concise Oxford English Dictionary for chaos: complete disorder and confusion. And we have understood it as bad. Theologians were then driven to creation ex nihilo by an incomplete understanding of chaos. They reasoned that chaos is bad, and God wouldn't not have created the world out of bad stuff, therefore, God must have started from nothing – no matter what the second verse of Genesis says.


But if chaos is not bad, but simply is, and is a part of the creative process, then certainly God could have started with the unformed matter, the stuff that was very sensitive to small provocations. And so the six days of God's small actions – a little light, a little land, a little bit of this and that – combined with the deep potentiality of chaos...and all of a sudden (or over millions of years) you have a world. A world in which chaos and creation continue – a world in which the status quo yields to disruption from time to time, whether from without or from within.


The kinds of disruptions that come from without are, in our own lives, the kinds of events that spring into our lives with sudden dislocating impact: there are layoffs and a job loss, a loved one faces a diagnosis, the car dies, a friend moves away, a parent dies. Nothing is the same anymore, and there is a sense of being unmoored from our own lives.


The kinds of disruptions that come from within are reminders of Yeats' poem “The Second Coming” and its lines: “Things fall apart, the centre cannot hold, anarchy is loosed upon the world....” Perhaps we are the ones who realize that it's time for a relationship to end. Or a new dawning leads us to go back to school, or to take up something that begins a new trajectory. Or an inner restlessness pulls us away from the understanding that had grounded our sense of self. Or some bad habit, or inborn frailty, finally results in its natural conclusion and we are facing a health crisis.


And in either event, or the coalescing of external and internal that are commingled in many disturbances, we find ourselves no longer ourselves in the way we knew ourselves to be, and so there is for a while a disorder and confusion in our selfhood that is almost always troubling. And yet, this time of chaos can also release a new creativity that will eventually establish a deeper sense of self.


So as we have begun to understand that creation – both in the world and in ourselves – is a constant, or at least recurring process. And chaos is the precedent state in which creation can occur. While none of us probably welcomes chaos, we can probably realize that, as Wheatley writes, “...fluctuation and change are essential to the process by which order is created.” And perhaps, over the longest haul, disorder, or the precreative state of chaos, is the norm – perhaps creative processes are the stable condition of life, and what we experience as stability is a temporary state, as Wheatley says, “...a lucky moment grabbed from natural disorder....” And she mentions one unnamed systems scientist who says “that a system is a set of processes that are made visible in temporary structures.” So caterpillar and butterfly are two temporary manifestations of the same life system.


In fact, if we understand change as the only constant in life, we are indeed understanding that there is a certain essential chaos that is ordinary to life, it is the openness to change, the receptive dimension, that in the world, in the cosmos, in organizations, and systems, and in us which is unnamed, unformed, empty, dark and deep.


This is not creation ex nihilo. Receptivity is not nothing – for if creation can take place in an ongoing way, it starts from something, and the precedent condition is receptivity. And what's the importance of this from a spiritual perspective? Perhaps we are like the impatient horse, and God the driver in Robert Frost's poem, “Stopping by Woods On a Snowy Evening” - the woods, and all life, are lovely, dark and deep – and we have miles to go before we sleep. As we learn to understand the ongoing process of creation as the constant, a process that is creating a deeper truer self in us, and we are called by God to be not merely vessels for the process, but partners in the continuing process of creation. As the Spirit moved over the watery deep in Genesis, so too does God's Spirit move over the deep receptivity in, among and through us, bringing something new and truer to life each day. And so as we partner with God in the process, we find life is dynamic – for chaos and creativity are found together – and as we can open ourselves to the process, we find ourselves more fully alive, an d experiencing life with a deeper humility, for what is may only be for right now and what will be is just beginning to emerge.


And we are never alone, for just as the chaos, the receptive formless void, the deepest deep over which the Spirit moves, is always present in life, so too is God. God is everywhere, always, present in creation and indeed, as Catherine Keller reminds us, “A ubiquitous God cannot be absent from any molecule, membrane or mucus of the creation.” And so the challenge for us is to be present, too – to the chaos, to the Spirit, to the potentialities that lie deep within us and all life. Amen