Frame Memorial Presbyterian Church Cosmos Sunday 2006

FRAME MEMORIAL PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH

October 8, 2006 Season of Creation – Cosmos 9:30 a.m.

 

ANNOUNCEMENTS

 

GATHERING AROUND THE WORD

 

PRELUDE Prelude & Fugue in C Major FRIEDRICH ZACHOW

 

INTROIT Praise the Lord CAMEROON MELODY

 

*PRAYER OF APPROACH St. Gregory Nazianzen c. 330-389

You alone are unutterable,

from the time you created all things that can be spoken of.

You alone are unknowable,

from the time you created all things that can be known.

All things cry out about you;

those which speak, and those which cannot speak.

All things honor you;

those which think, and those which cannot think.

For there is one longing,

one groaning, that all things have for you ...

All things pray to you that comprehend your plan and offer you a silent hymn.

In you, the One, all things abide, and all things endlessly run to you

who are the end of all.

 

*HYMN God, Who Stretched the Spangled Heavens #268

 

*PRAYER OF PRAISE:

MEN: "THE EARTH. . . IS A SPARKLING BLUE AND WHITE JEWEL. . . LACED WITH SLOWLY SWIRLING VEILS OF WHITE. . . LIKE A SMALL PEARL IN A THICK SEA OF BLACK MYSTERY." (Edgar Mitchell, US Astronaut)

All: "All creation is a song of praise to God." (Hildegard of Bingen)

Women: "O moving force of Wisdom, you encircle the wheel of the cosmos, you encompass all that is, all that has life, in one vast circle." (Hildegard of Bingen)

All: "All creation is a song of praise to God." (Hildegard of Bingen)

MEN: "IT COULD BE THAT GOD HAS NOT ABSCONDED BUT SPREAD, AS OUR VISION AND UNDERSTANDING OF THE UNIVERSE HAVE SPREAD, TO A FABRIC OF SPIRIT AND SENSE SO GRAND AND SUBTLE, POWERFUL IN A NEW WAY, THAT WE CAN ONLY FEEL BLINDLY OF ITS HEM." (Annie Dillard, naturalist writer)

All: "All creation is a song of praise to God." (Hildegard of Bingen)

Women: ". . . stardust is not just fairy-tale magic; it is what we are really made of. . ." (Elisabet Sahtouris, Ecofeminist)

All: "All creation is a song of praise to God." (Hildegard of Bingen, Mystic)

MEN: "GREAT SPIRIT, . . . GIVE ME THE STRENGTH TO WALK THE SOFT EARTH, A RELATIVE TO ALL THAT IS! . . . ALL OVER THE EARTH THE FACES OF LIVING THINGS ARE ALL ALIKE. . . THIS IS MY PRAYER; HEAR ME!" (Black Elk, Oglala Sioux)

All: "All creation is a song of praise to God." (Hildegard of Bingen)

Women: "There is not anything new to be born. It has been within you from the beginningless beginning. It has only to be awakened, to become aware of itself in you." (Zen saying)

All: "All creation is a song of praise to God." (Hildegard of Bingen)

MEN: ". . . FOR IN GOD WE LIVE/ AND MOVE/ AND HAVE OUR BEING." (Acts 17:28)

All: "All creation is a song of praise to God." (Hildegard of Bingen)

Women: ". . . When you stand in the presence of the moon, you become a new creation. . . The elementary particles of your body have absorbed an influence and in that sense they--and you--are brand spanking new, a human being resonating everywhere with moonlight." (Brian Swimme, physicist)

All: "All creation is a song of praise to God." (Hildegard of Bingen)

MEN: "WE SHALL NOT CEASE FROM EXPLORATION/ AND THE END OF ALL OUR EXPLORING/ WILL BE TO ARRIVE WHERE WE STARTED/ AND KNOW THE PLACE FOR THE FIRST TIME." (T. S. Eliot)

All: "All creation is a song of praise to God." (Hildegard of Bingen)

 

*RESPONSE (Hymn No. 455, verse 1)

All Creatures of our God and King, Lift up your voice and with us sing, Alleluia! Alleluia! Thous burning sun with golden beam, thou silver moon with softer gleam, Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

 

*THE PEACE

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.)

 

MOMENT WITH CHILDREN AND THE YOUNG AT HEART

 

PROCLAIMING THE WORD

 

PRAYER FOR ILLUMINATION

 

LESSON FROM THE EPISTLES Colossians 1:15-20 (p. 155)

The Word of the Lord.

Thanks be to God.

 

ANTHEM Selections from The Creation HAYDN

And God Made the Firmament; Jeff Bakken, Baritone

And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament. And it was so.

Now furious storms tempestuous rage. Like chaff, by the winds impell’d are the clouds---By sudden fire the sky is inflam’d. And awful thunders are rolling on high---Now from the floods in steam ascend, Reviving showers of rain. The dreary, wasteful hail, the light and flaky snow.

The Marv’lous Work; Susan Bender, Soprano

The marv’lous, the marv’lous work behold amaz’d the glorious hierarchy of heav’ns; and to the heavenly vaults resound the praise of God and of the second day.

 

HEBREW SCRIPTURE LESSON Psalm 19 (p. 387)

The Word of the Lord.

Thanks be to God.

 

SERMON The Heavens Are Telling Rev. Zencka

 

RESPONDING TO GOD’S WORD

 

LITANY OF COMMITMENT

As we seek to relax our grip so that the earth, our fragile sister, might rest from our labors, help us to see our world more vividly than we have done in the past.

Grant us vision for the challenges of this age and give us hearts full of courage for the future.

As we seek to be wise stewards of the gifts of the earth in timber and oil, coal, and gas, help us to know your world more humanely than we have in the past.

Make us learn that wisdom which we see among those wise and humble people of the earth, that we might walk with care and reverence so as to caress our fair sister.

Sharing God, draw us to contemplation and silence so that we might see, in wonder, our lives intertwined with the squirrels and the cardinal, the creatures great and small, the beauty of each season. Help us to see the birth, growth, death, and rebirth so as to give us courage in the ongoing creation of our Creator.

Deepen our faith and enliven our thinking, nourish our bodies and strengthen our souls, that we may be your message in the world, your servants for the common wellness of the earth. Make us weavers of a new order, crafters of a new earth.

Grant us grace through the Christ of the Cosmos. Call us to follow in the footsteps of Jesus, in the love with earth, and with our brothers, and sisters. Give us a measure of the Spirit that these commitments we make before you might make our work holy.

Let us go forth from this sacred ark with steady hand up lifted heart, with clear eye and alert mind, with firm step, and willing hands. May we arrive at fresh springs of renewal through God's holy Word, in our communities of faith, and in deep solidarity with all creation.

Amen. Let all the creation hear and bear witness.

Amen!

 

*HYMN God, You Spin the Whirling Planets #285

 

OFFERING OF OUR GIFTS AND OUR LIVES

 

OFFERTORY Sarabande in B flat Major J. S. BACH

 

RESPONSE (Hymn #455, verse 6)

All creatures, your Creator bless, and worship God in humbleness. O sing ye! Alleluia! Praise ye Creator, praise the Son, and praise the Spirit, Three in One! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

 

SHARING OF CELEBRATIONS AND CONCERNS

 

PRAYERS OF THE PEOPLE AND PRAYER TO THE CREATOR

Our Creator and Parent, who is as far as the stars and as near as our breath, You are holy. Let all creation worship you and live in harmony with you and each other. Give us today what we need; and forgive us for turning from You, as we forgive those who have hurt or offended us; let us find our happiness in You. For all that matters is in You, and through You, and of You and for You, forever. Amen.

 

BEARING THE WORD INTO THE WORLD

 

*HYMN God of Grace and God of Glory #420

 

*BENEDICTION

 

*CHORAL RESPONSE May the Lord, Mighty God (PH #596) P. LI

 

POSTLUDE Christ Is Our Cornerstone GEORGE MILES

 

*Please stand, as able

 

OUR LITURGY THIS MORNING comes from the WebofCreation.org, a project of the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago.

 

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 9:00 A.M. to 11:00.

• 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 ????. Ushers are ?????

 

Today’s Worship Participants* & Frame Staff

 

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

Director of Music Judy Bond* Liturgist Bob DeMuth*

Organist Michael Keller* Christian Ed Director Kay Lewis*

Pianist Dan Mitchell Youth Leader Steven Korzinek

Pianist Erin Stoffel Custodian Gerry Steltenpohl

Bookkeeper Pam Starzinski Secretary Charlene Kawleski

 

Church office 715-341-3040

Fax 715-341-0171

Susan’s cell phone 715-252-1797

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

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

Website: www.framepres.org

 

Office hours: 9:00 am to 1:00 pm

 

 

 

 

 

FRAME MEMORIAL PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH

1300 Main Street

Stevens Point, WI 54481

 

a member of

WINNEBAGO PRESBYTERY

SYNOD OF LAKES AND PRAIRIES

PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH, U.S.A.

 

MISSION STATEMENT

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.

 

The Heavens Are Telling

October 8, 2006

Rev. Susan Gilbert Zencka

Frame Memorial Presbyterian Church

 

Texts: Colossians 1:15-20, Psalm 19

 

Here we are at the last of our Season of Creation – how exciting it has been for me to explore this with you all! During this Season of Creation, I have to tell you, I have been energized so much by this new way of reflecting theologically. Traditionally, we in the Reformed Tradition have understood Scripture as being the primary means of revelation to human beings. Not the only way, but the primary way. When we talk about revelation, we are meaning how God has revealed God’s self to us – how God has made God’s self known to us. Now clearly, we don’t believe that the Bible is the only way this happens – as Christians, we believe that Jesus revealed God in a special way to us. And we believe that God is also revealed through creation – part of why we believe this is because we read it in the Bible. Psalm 19 tells us: the heavens are telling the glory of God! We just heard that! And I have thought for a long time that I understood it.

 

I had always thought that when we say God is revealed in creation, we meant you can see in the order, the beauty, the abundance of nature that God is so incredibly generous to us, so loving, and so good. In that way, creation is a great object lesson, a wonderful example, a perfect Exhibit A in the story of God’s care for the world.

 

But I have come to understand the role of creation as revelation differently. Rather than seeing it as merely a great example, I have come to understand it as a primary source. That is, rather than merely being an illustration to the story that is told in the Bible, creation tells its own story. Instead of seeing how Creation adds a new level to our Bible readings, we are looking at Creation and asking, what do we know of God from this?

 

In the first week, when we studied the Planet Earth, I found myself realizing the intricate interrelationship of life in creation – that we are just growing to realize how connected life forms are. And we also realized that the relationship of humans to creation has been complicated for a long time – that the prophet Isaiah had written 2700 years ago that “The earth lies polluted under its inhabitants; for they have transgressed laws, violated the statutes, broken the everlasting covenant.”

 

The following week, as we considered rivers, I found myself aware that we live very close to a river, but most of us don’t spend much time close enough to it to hear it. And I realized how disconnected we really are from creation. And that as we are increasingly distant from nature, we not only lose contact with nature, but with ourselves, with God, and with the reality of the web of relationships that sustains us. The Scriptures are replete with images from creation, but if we are no longer connected with the natural world in any immediate way, are the Scriptures also becoming less meaningful to us? When modern people complain that the Bible doesn’t seem connected to our lives, is that because our lives have become disconnected from Creation, in which God’s Word is rooted?

 

Some of you will remember that this really clicked for me three weeks ago as we looked at trees. I reflected on what Eric Singsaas had shared with me about trees: that they are literally made of air – they take in CO2 and transform it into cellulose, building leaves and branches out of air. And I realized that transformation was written into the universe, as part of the ordinary way God works. That what we consider miraculous is simply the way the universe actually functions.

 

The following week, as we studied the four compass points and four basic elements, I found myself focusing on the phrase: matter matters. Our real world teaches us about God. In particular we observed that choices have consequences, and that God is faithful to us.

 

Last week, in thinking about humanity, we again realized the interrelatedness of creation – that people are connected throughout the world, and that we need to take those basic human connections seriously. The neighborhood we live in is a small blue planet.

 

And so here we are studying the Cosmos, and I find all those earlier insights coming together again. Going back to Psalm 19: the heavens are telling the glory of God and the firmament declares his handiwork. Day to day pours forth speech, and night to night declares knowledge. There is no speech, nor are there words; their voice is not heard; yet their voice goes out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. The psalmist is reminding us that the physical world tells us about God. So all knowledge is One then – physics (how the world works) and metaphysics (what is the nature of reality and what is the role of humans in it) are not really all that different.

 

Last year for Christmas, Corey gave me a book called The Dancing Wu Li Masters by Gary Zukav. It’s a book about physics, and the author posits that most scientists speak math while most non-scientists don’t speak math well, and so his goal was to write a book about science in the language of those not fluent in math. Listen to a statement from the book: “Quantum mechanics, for example, teaches us that we are not as separate from the rest of the world as we once thought. Particle physics shows us that the ‘rest of the world’ does not sit idly ‘out there.’ It is a sparkling realm of continual creation, transformation and annihilation.” This is totally consistent with what I have understood through these studies during the Season of Creation. And it bears out a hunch I have long had: if the world is created by God, then math and physics, being ways of describing God’s work, are merely different ways of doing theology. Higher math, physics, chemistry are not inconsistent with theology – they can’t be if we really take God as creator seriously. And if they seem to be, then we have misunderstood something along the way. Perhaps we have the science wrong, or equally likely, perhaps we don’t understand theology properly.

 

Today, we are thinking about the Cosmos – the cosmos is the whole universe, the world outside our planet, as well as our planet. Cosmology is the study of the way the universe works, on the large scale. Yesterday NPR was discussing cosmology and particle physics as two branches of physics – cosmology looking outward at the whole universe, and particle physics looking inward at the tiniest parts of the universe. This week, two cosmologists – those physicists studying the origins of life – won the Nobel Prize for Physics. Their work was in measuring the after-glow of the Big Bang, which demonstrated that there are scientific ways to begin to understand the beginnings of the world.

 

Creation seems to have begun all of a sudden. Both the Bible and physics have identified a beginning. In 1929, astronomer Edwin Hubble observed that the universe is actually expanding. That is, the cosmos is dynamic, not static. Or as physicist John Polkinghorne says it, “Creation is not something [God] did fifteen billion years ago, but it is something that [God] is doing now.” The world is constantly changing, undergoing transformation, or as Zukav says, “…a sparkling realm of continuing creation ….” This is also utterly consistent with what the Bible teaches us. In fact, recent Biblical scholars in both the Jewish and Christian traditions have come to believe the opening verse of Genesis instead of being translated as “In the beginning, when God created the heavens and the earth…” should read, “When God began to create the heavens and the earth.” This is the piece that to me is the culmination of this Season of Creation, and that naturally leads back to our own discipleship.

 

To put this more clearly: Christian tradition sees God in history -- story telling has been how we learn about God. Now perhaps it is time to expand our understanding; perhaps it is time to understand God in science -- to learn the story of God that science tells. If we confidently believe in creation as God's good gift, then science and math will be a means to learning more about God. Everything I have learned in the past six weeks has underscored for me that science and theology are telling the same story – the story of God’s active, ongoing creation of this world. Psalm 19 also tells us that science and theology are the same story – did you notice? The psalm began by describing how God uses creation to reveal things to us…and then goes on to describe how scripture also reveals God to us: The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul; the decrees of the Lord are sure, making wise the simple; the precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the Lord is clear, enlightening the eyes; the fear of the Lord is pure, enduring forever; the ordinances of the Lord are true and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey, and drippings of the honeycomb. The psalmist equates the reality of God’s presence in the world and in the Word with joy.

 

As we experience the created world, don’t we find ourselves experiencing delight and joy? Season after season: the crispness and dazzling colors of fall, the wondrous beauty of a snowy morning in winter, the newness and refreshing delight in spring, the warmth and lively bounty of summer – and as Franciscan theologian Richard Rohr said, our experience of delight is not ours alone: it is a participation in the delight of God. God intends for us to participate with God in the ongoing creation of the cosmos. We have a part in God’s work. We are not merely passive recipients of God’s work like baby birds with our mouths agape, but we are called into partnership, to join our efforts to God’s. This is what stewardship is all about. It is recognizing that God is actively involved in God’s world, and that we are called to relationship with God’s work as well as with God – or as the Presbyterian Book of Order puts it: we are called to service as well as salvation. Our faith isn’t just about us, it’s about how God calls us to God’s work

 

The choir sang this morning two pieces, two exquisite and delightful pieces, from Haydn’s The Creation. Haydn apparently had an appropriate view of his own work. A review of this composition says, “The truth is, Haydn's consistently fresh and unpretentious invention acts as a positive anesthetic against bombast, and the composer himself once said that thinking of the Creator always made him irresistibly cheerful. With The Creation, Haydn returned the favor.”

 

Richard Rohr has said that there are two conditions under which our spiritual transformation is possible: one is the condition of awe or wonder. As we engage more immediately with God’s creation, we will experience that awe and wonder. The other condition is when we experience suffering, which is when we really understand the limits of our own power, and are open to God. I think perhaps we can also access the transformative potential of suffering by engaging in a lifestyle which takes Sabbath seriously, for by ceasing our own efforts in order to spend time in relationship with God, God’s world, and God’s people, we establish a corrective to our natural tendency to worship ourselves and attach too much importance to our own work.

 

The optimum rhythm is shown from the earliest descriptions of Creation, in which humans were created last, then God led all creation into Sabbath, before we undertook the work that we were given. Our energies, our work, and our goals flow from the time we spend in restful relationship with God and each other in Sabbath. When we cut ourselves off from God’s world, then God’s Word no longer makes sense to us. When we cut ourselves off from Sabbath and resting in God’s care, then we find ourselves making idols of our own work, becoming self-important, instead of understanding our work as part of God’s overall creative endeavor. Either of these patterns, and especially both of them together can cause us to miss the joy for which we were intended, and which it is God’s pleasure to share with us.

 

SO what have we learned, overall from this Season of Creation, and particularly of the Cosmos? The universal ethic is one of dynamic community, of unity in diversity. The folks who use microscopes and the folks who use telescopes are seeing the same patterns as the economists and political scientists, and so are the theologians: the world is characterized by mutuality and interdependence. Globalization isn’t just a new policy; it’s the way the world is designed. And so it turns out that the Trinity, the dance of God in dynamic, mutual love, is truly the energy that characterizes and drives the Cosmos. The world is one, and it is constantly in transformation, and our work is part of The Work of Continuing Creation.

 

The more we seek the unity in knowledge, the union of our work and God’s, community with God’s people and the other creatures of this world, the more comfortable we will be with the dynamic character of the world, .and our own important but limited role in it.

 

Let me close with a portion of W.H. Auden’s Oratorio called, For the Time Being in which he writes:

 

“For the Truth is indeed One, without which there is no salvation, but the possibilities of real knowledge are as many as are the creatures in the very real and most exciting universe that God creates with and for His love, and it is not Nature which is one public illusion, but we who have each our many private illusions about Nature.

 

Because in Him abstraction finds a passionate For-The-Sake-Of, in Him is the continuous development of Science assured.

 

And because of His visitation, we may no longer desire God as if He were lacking: our redemption is no longer a question of pursuit but of surrender to Him who is always and everywhere present. Therefore at ever moment we pray that, following Him, we may depart from our anxiety into His peace.” Amen.

 

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