Purple Threads.001

Welcome to my page.  I am Rev. Carol Kress, pastor at the Gladbrook church.  This is my page which is named Purple Threads.  That name has some Biblical meaning.  In the days of the early church, purple dye was hard to find and expensive to use.  In Acts 16:14, we are introduced to Lydia, who sold purple goods and also was a Christian.  Women-of-means, like Lydia opened their homes for Christians to gather in worship, to grow in faith and to unite through fellowship.  The support provided by these women kept missionaries out in the fields where they could spread the Good News of the living Christ.  My prayer is that my work and my support of other Christians will help spread this good word too.

So, just envision that you are seated in the lovely fellowship hall of the Gladbrook UMC, and allow me to share with you a few purple-threaded thoughts about my faith, the church, and what it means to be a disciple of Jesus Christ.  Perhaps you have a few threaded thoughts of other colors that you can also share. Then together we will ask for a little bit of divine inspiration so those threads can be woven together into a beautiful tapestry –  – all for God’s good purpose.

Monday Morning Musings

Posted by on Jan 1, 2018 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

People in my profession tend to have a lot of nativity sets in their homes. A minister-friend of mine (who retired to Colorado) has over ninety. At Christmas time her condo in the mountains must be quite the sight. I wonder if she has room for any visitors at all? My number of nativities is modest in comparison to hers, but I like mine and enjoy setting them up for the holiday. So on Christmas Day I set out the very last one. While I took the set out of the box and found the perfect place for each one of the pieces, I found myself thinking about the shepherds. They have their moment in the spot light, but I find that they are not the first ones that I look at when I reflect upon the nativity sets . Baby Jesus is front and center of all the sets. He gets the spotlight (as he should). On either side are stationed Mary and Joseph who are major supporting characters. An angel glows near the manger. The three kings seem to command a strategic spot where any one can admire the camels and those gifts that made an impression. Even the animals of the stable have spots. I like placing the donkey as close to Mary as I can and I will turn the cow so that her gaze is upon the precious child. But the shepherds don’t have a special spot, I seem to fit them in to balance out the nativity scene. In one of the sets they really do look best standing out in a side pen with the sheep. If you saw them you would agree that those shepherds were meant to watch over things while everyone else gathered in the stable. Who knows what would become of a church that did not have a team of shepherds to watch over things? I think of all the volunteers and quiet workers who serve Christ by tending to so many little things that happen inside the house of God. So much of their work goes overlooked and under appreciated. But without their thought and care, the church would suffer. There are shepherds who keep the flowers watered, the projection current and the sanctuary orderly so there are few distractions to worship. There are shepherds who pay attention to fiscal matters and talk about a greater stewardship of our personal and shared resources. There are shepherds who are planning Sunday school lessons, making costumes, and helping our young people open the Bible. There are other shepherds who encourage everyone to open the Bible and invite it to live within our hearts. We can also mention the shepherds who plan funeral dinners, prepare Communion, care for memorials, or BeFriend to offer God’s loving presence during tender times. I haven’t begun to mention all of the local shepherds. There are many more quiet ways you are a shepherd with your family, the school children, and for others who are a part of God’s living nativity. You may feel that you are not appreciated or noticed . But God sees and knows all things and this is what really matters. I am grateful for the many who watch-over and tend to our little branch of the family of God. Blessings...

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Monday Morning Musings

Posted by on Nov 30, 2017 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

Today is filled with sunshine. Days like this one have been few and far between. That makes sunshine more precious today. The days are shorter now and common indicators of winter are on the scene. What will winter be like? When I was a kid on the farm, my bedroom windows faced the western sky. During winter, I recall doing my homework there while looking out the window to see the sunset over a frosty horizon. My goal was always to complete it before Venus shined in the darkening sky. Although planets do not have a self-generated source they can twinkle with the sun’s reflective light. Jupiter, Mercury and Mars twinkle and if there was a colony on any of them, their people would say that Earth twinkles too. Still, I watch for the beauty of winter sunsets. Certainly, a long winter night can usher in dangerous temperatures and threatening weather. This fact does not stop me from appreciating the sunset. Besides, the winter sky at night cannot extinguish the starlight. Not really. Even when clouds are thick and heavy, the stars shine higher above. When I watch very closely they will peek through to prove their presence every now and then.. Soon we will celebrate the birth of baby Jesus. The timing of this event is so fitting. Jesus was born during one of the longest nights of the year as winter chills settle. To humanity it is a reminder that our bodies need light and warmth to make it through cold, dark winter nights. In the same way, our spiritual bodies need the gifts Jesus brought by way of his birth. These gifts allow us to survive exposure to hard trials and seasons of hopelessness. We cannot do this on our own. It is possible only because of the love of God revealed to us through Jesus Christ. He is the source of spiritual light. This truth forms the basis of the scriptural message from Isaiah pro-claiming, “Arise and shine, for thy light has come. The glory of the Lord has risen.” (Isaiah 60) Allow me to invite you to watch with me for the sunset and then stars to appear. Our physical life is dependent upon the sun, and our salvation is dependent upon Jesus Christ. God gave him to this world as a sign of his everlasting love. No matter the thickness of the clouds nor the length of the night, he has promised to shine forth on our behalf. It is a promise upon which we can count. So praise God with me for the precious gift of his son and we will encourage each other to trust in his promises. Have you noticed that it is only during times of darkness that we can see the twinkling planets? Oh my, I feel another musing coming on….Well, for the time-being, I pray for you and your loved ones to have a safe, healthy and blessed holiday season. “I consider the whole world as my parish.” John Wesley Rev....

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Monday Morning Musings

Posted by on Oct 27, 2017 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

Not long ago a friend of mine sent an email of a cartoon strip. In it there was a sheep walking on two legs. The sheep addressed a wolf who blocked the pearly-gated entrance to a green pasture. Standing by the sheep was a familiar looking bearded man who wore a robe and carried a staff. He had an unstated look of authority. The sheep spoke to the wolf while pointing to the man and said, “I’m with Him.” The sheep’s trust is in his Shepherd who gave him protection and led him to green pastures beside still waters. On the day Jesus died, three crosses rose in Golgotha. And Jesus was crucified between two criminals. One of them mocked Jesus. But the other one had a repentant heart of a believer. He asked Jesus “Will you remember me when you come into your kingdom?” Jesus replied, “This day you will be with me in Paradise.” Can you imagine how much those words of assurance helped that man? He knew for sure that in his hour of great need, Jesus would pay the price of his sin and lead him to pastures eternally green. He was now a child of God.. Perhaps he acted just like the sheep did when it approached the pearly gate by gesturing to Jesus and saying that wolf, “I’m with him.” This is the November newsletter and Thanksgiving will be observed on the 23rd. (That day would have been my mother’s 88th birthday.) As with all citizens who gather around Thanksgiving dinner tables, we will have a lot of reasons to offer our thanks. Along with them, many of us will mention our families, or our friends, or our health, or our community. But, as Christians we are most thankful for the precious gift of Jesus Christ. Scripture states “God gave his only begotten Son that who so ever believed in him would have life ever lasting. For God gave his son to the world not to condemn it, but that the world would be saved through Him.” (John 3:16 & 17) Just like the thief on the cross, we do not deserve what God planned and Jesus did for us. These things are a precious gift from God’s hand and we have been changed forever. So, I hope that along with the blessings you will count, there will be a time when you point to heaven and say with a clear, loud voice. “I’m with Him!” Have a safe and blessed holiday R. Carol Kress Gladbrook,...

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Monarch Butterflies, Francis of Assisi, and You

Posted by on Oct 4, 2017 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

The Monarch Butterflies are Migrating Haven’t all of the Monarch’s already passed through Gladbrook? Apparently not, I saw one solitary dash of orange and black winging down my street today. He was bobbing up and down, but headed in the right direction. As with all the Monarchs that I see, I offered a simple prayer for him. “May God help you to fly safe and free, old boy.” Our beloved Monarchs are not as populous as they once were. But, it does not lessen the beauty and wonder I feel when I see one. My friend of today may have been traveling from as far away as south Canada. He will go to the mountains of Mexico for winter. If you have enough time and money, guides can take you to his home there, where blizzards of orange and black Monarchs are clustered together until it is time to wing back home. Somewhere along the RAGBRAI route in July there was a group determined to help maintain Monarch populations. They passed to the riders a mud ball. Tucked inside was a milk weed seedling. (The preferred home of Monarch caterpillars). RAGBRAI riders were asked to toss the mud ball into a ditch or pasture in hopes the seedling would establish itself and grow strong enough to welcome the Monarchs home in the spring. Perhaps to lay their eggs. It is a tradition for Christians to have a high regard for nature. Francis of Assisi believed nature can be used as a window through which the religious will gaze upon the majesty of God. In legend it is said that once, while Francis was traveling with his companions, they came to a place in the woods where birds filled trees on either side of the path. Francis told his companions to wait while he took time to preach to his brothers and sisters, the birds. The legend continues by stating not one of the birds flew away. This is why statues of Francis commonly show him with a bird in his hand. I won’t say the legend is factual. But there is some truth in it. Francis noticed things in the natural world and cared about those things. Likewise, God calls us to notice and to care about the natural world too. Perhaps one day someone will hand a mud ball that is home to a sprouting milk weed to you too. If someone does, then I hope that you will plant it. In what other simple ways can you offer a helping hand to Mother Nature? Prayer: “Dearest Lord, our tender shepherd and wise counsel. Help us to do our part to keep the air, water, and earth clean and fresh. We want to do this not only for our own purposes, but for the use of all creation and over many generations. Thank you for allowing us to be stewards of yours. Amen.” Scripture: O Lord, by your wisdom you created so many things; the whole earth is covered with your living creatures. (Psalm...

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Monday Morning Musings

Posted by on Sep 28, 2017 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

It is true, I celebrated a mile-stone birthday. I joined all of the other Baby Boomers who are at least 60 years of age. Thank you for flooding my mail box with well-wishes and laughter. Here are some of the better one-liners – – At 60, your birthday suit requires regular ironing – At 60, fortune tellers begin reading your face instead of the palm of your hand – At 60, the candles on the cake threaten to set off the sprinkler system – At 60, your parties don’t even wake up the dog, let alone cause the neighbors to complain. Now that I am 60 my ideas about older people have changed – a lot. When I was young, I envisioned most 60-year-olds as folks who sat in a rocking chair watching the corn grow. Now I think we should trade in those rocking chairs in for golf carts. The old people that I know are on the go! There are Asian cultures where it is seen as a handicap to be young. The Chinese believe that as a person grows older, they grow in wisdom and resourcefulness. When asked ‘How old are you?’ A 55 year-old might fudge and claim to be 60. Perhaps we need to adopt their point of view. Then we would better resonate with Psalm 90:12 which states, “Teach us to number our days, O Lord, that we might present to you a heart-full of wisdom.” The aches and pains that loom in my future don’t occupy my thoughts as much as you may think. However, I do have a prayer I say daily: “Lord Jesus, help me be true to you by loving and serving you and also your people.” There are days when I am closer to the ideal of this prayer than others. But I hope that by staying persistent with that prayer I’ll be more aware of the coaching God gives to me and I’ll keep moving closer to that goal until my the clock runs out and the game changes. This leads me to an observation and an invitation. If it is true that I have grown wiser over the years, then I have observed that when people pray together big things happen. Therefore I am issuing an invitation for you to pray my little prayer too. I believe that God is up to something and by lining up our desires with his that good things happen. When our Christian family asks God to show us how to best love and serve Him and his people, then something big is going to happen. It has something to do with being his hands and feet. We are building His kingdom and that legacy will be ageless. Let’s pray right now; “Lord Jesus, help us be true to you by loving and serving you while loving and serving your people. Amen.” R. Carol Kress Gladbrook, UMC “Go where your best prayers take you.” Frederick...

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Monday Morning Musings

Posted by on Sep 19, 2017 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

So, today I want to talk to you about Wildly Important Goals and ask your prayers in helping the church define one. Some know about W. I. G. through the work place. Others who use a Franklin Planner may have heard of them too. And now the Iowa Annual Conference is introducing them to the churches. We are going to be asked to spell out ours in the not-so-distant future. The idea of a WIG is that employees (church members) can only concentrate on one or two big projects over a period of time. At the same time, if the goal is not accomplished, the organization (church) will fall back. When the sole task of the work place is to accomplish this one, big goal, then things change in several ways. Likewise, if all employees have their own W.I.G. (which is a sub-set of the over-arching WIG), then folks don’t work at cross-purposes and the contribution of each team member matters. Workers have a clear focus, understand their role, and recognize their individual importance to the whole workplace. The right W.I.G. might even change attitudes around coming to work every day. Some faithful readers may think I just went off the deep end and I know all this writing is lofty stuff. But I am trying to talk sense. Really. Just think what it would mean if all of us agreed that God could work through a W.I,G. set for our local congregation. Let’s say the goal was “We are meant to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.” Breaking down this goal would help us recognize a few obvious things we can do about it right here in Gladbrook. It is possible the church could tale a close look at the ministries we offer right now. Some of our groups might be re-purposed, and other task forces added so we would be more focused in the message of hope God calls us to more clearly of-fer with our church members, in the community and to the world. So, just what might be our Wildly Important Goal? Well, all us know nothing ever stays the same in the life of a Christian nor in the life of a church. We have known many joys and we know too much about struggle. Perhaps the creation of a Wildly Important Goal will help us see the path forward so that our lives will be filled with the knowledge of God and our greater community be blessed through our faithful service. Please join me in prayer and discernment about the W.I.G. God is formulating for us. I look forward to its revelation. R. Carol Kress Gladbrook, UMC “I consider the whole world as my parish.” John...

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Monday Morning Musings

Posted by on Jul 22, 2017 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

It’s always fun to be with and to talk to the children in our community and of the church. Many of them should be credited for being quite wise. A couple months ago I was talking with some children in Kid’s Club. We were talking about smiles and I asked the group with whom I was chatting a question. I asked “What makes God smile?” Some of the older children had good suggestions. They included being obedient to the 10 commandments. Another one mentioned coming to Kid’s Club or Sunday School. And as I was complimenting those two on their great answers, another child raised his hand. Bouncing up and down, he exclaimed, “I know something better!” When I asked, “What do you think is a better way to make God smile?” He stood up and stated with absolute conviction. “Tell God a joke!” I loved that. And I told him so. Then the whole group tried to think of good jokes that we could tell God.. Here are just a few jokes that might make you smile too. ** Attending a wedding for the first time, a little girl whispered into her mother’s ear. “Why is the bride wearing white?” Her mother whispered back saying. “She is wearing white be-cause white is the color of happiness, and this is the happiest day of her life.” The girl thought about that for a moment and then asked. “Okay, but, why then is the groom wearing black?” ** A Sunday school teacher asked her class why Mary and Joseph took Jesus as a young boy along with them to Jerusalem?” The class thought about the question for a moment until ones had a response. She said, “Because they could not get a babysitter!” **At Sunday school the teacher explained that God had created everything in the universe. And when mortals were created, God produced a woman out of a rib from the side of Adam. After the children went home, a Father noticed that his son was laying on the couch after Sunday dinner. He asked his son if he felt alright. And the son responded saying. “My side hurts. I think I’m going to have a wife.” I hope God did not take offense at these jokes and smiled instead. Did you smile too? Jokes are great. Good ones really should bring a smile to God not just because they’re funny, but because God genuinely wants us to enjoy life—the blessings of life that God has given to us. I once heard a preacher say that when we finally stand before God, the one thing we will be asked is, “Did you enjoy the blessings I gave you in life?” As we enter into the fullness of summer, my hope is that we will take the time to count our many blessings and offer a word of thanks to the one who provided them. That ought to make God smile too. R. Carol Kress Gladbrook, UMC “Bloom where you are planted.” John Wesley “Let all who take refuge in you rejoice, let them ever sing for joy, and spread your protection over them that those who love your name may exult in you. For you bless the righteous, O Lord, You cover them with favor as with a shield.”...

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Of parting the Red Sea and kitchen conundrums

Posted by on Jun 14, 2017 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

Of Parting the Red Sea and Kitchen Conundrums  — this was written for the Iowa United Methodist Conference to be used during the week of May 21-27, 2017.  The Way Forward Commission has sought all United Conferences pray for their work as they develop a new statement and recommendations regarding all denominational understandings of Human Sexuality by Rev. Carol Kress Scripture: “The Israelites went into the sea on dry ground. The water forming a wall on their right and on their left.” (Exodus 14:22) An Iowa United Methodist church decided to remodel its out-dated kitchen. So a kitchen design team was appointed and spent months envisioning future needs of the church and designing a new kitchen to accommodate them. It was apparent the project would be expensive so they sought a vote of the congregation which demonstrated its support with enthusiasm. On New Year’s Eve, a party gathered which was eager to celebrate and demolish that old kitchen. However, it did not take long to discover a problem. The party discovered standing water underneath the double sink and its housing. Both sinks had problem pipes. One appeared to be stopped while the other was slow in its work. Unfortunately, the problem did not have a simple solution. Experts were commissioned to take the place of volunteers. Their report to the kitchen design team was sobering. Each sink had separate pipes. One set led east, connecting with the city on the far side of a historic brick street. The second set led west. They ran underneath the entire length of fellowship hall until they were finally under the alley to meet with city pipes. The expert recommended to replace the pipes and lead all of them in one direction, But no one could agree on which direction. Either way created its own set of expensive issues. Although the pastor could be impatient, the congregation was not, They deliberated the kitchen conundrum with great care, The design team studied the matter from every point of view and met with a lengthy list of local engineers, plumbers, carpenters and others, Surely there were more choices than had been recommended to the design team. No one wanted to tear up fellowship hall nor did they want to ruin a historic brick street. The team brought their quest for a solution to the congregation seeking prayers and help. The pastor was inspired to open her bible. She spoke of Moses, the Israelites and their flight from Pharaoh. God’s people found themselves caught between the Red Sea and the Egyptian Army. But, acting on faith, Moses stepped into the sea. It divided, providing an avenue of escape. Although Moses had worried there would be no way forward and that he had done was wasted, God provided what Moses could not provide In fact, there was a way to move forward for the Israelites. As for the kitchen conundrum, time passed and the committee began to feel pressured to choose its direction. But before they made this decision, the sea began to part and dry land arose, A inspired plumber approached the design team. He had heard of their problem and he had an idea. He had recently read of a new process for laying pipe by creating an underground bore-hole. And, if he purchased the new equipment, might...

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Monday Morning Musings

Posted by on May 24, 2017 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

June is a month to celebrate family and community life. And if it has not already done, it is now time to spruce up the grill so that it fulfill its summer duties. Years ago I learned the busiest restaurant day of the year is Mother’s Day. But Father’s Day is different. It’s more like the busiest day of the year for back-yard grilling. It does not appear to matter what people grill. It could be hot dogs, brats, steak or fish. Most of them will be busy on Father’s day. The activity of grilling is more than preparing the fire and putting all the components in place. When things go right, the practice of grilling provides an opportunity to share something good and to relax. Those long summer Sunday afternoons that are filled with a good spirit, good food, and company remind people like me of scripture. On a day like the one I have described, what comes to my minds is this scripture verse: “This is the day that the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it.” (Ps. 118. 24). June is a busy time. All of our calendars will keep filling even as the month speeds along from the first day to the last. It is important to create a few pauses inside of that hurried pace. I encourage you to make sure to plan a few afternoons in the back yard with your family and the grill to just have fun and relax. Our spirits are at their best when we feel well balanced and our life is fully grounded with the people who are dear and the with Lord who is close by. R. Carol Kress Gladbrook, UMC “I consider the whole world as my parish.” John...

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Monday Morning Musings

Posted by on Apr 30, 2017 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

This month I am reporting that the Iowa Bishop of the UMC ran the Boston Marathon on April 17, 2017. This accomplishment amazes me enough to yield my space in the newsletter so that you can read all about it. Here an article that was written about Bishop Haller and her reasoning for running. It, along with her regular blog can be found on the www.iaumc.org web site. — BISHOP LAURIE HALLER RUNS THE BOSTON MARATHON “I’m a child of God and God made me to run.” said Bishop Laurie Haller, one of the entrants in the 2017 Boston Marathon. “By running in the Boston Marathon,” she added, “and in everything I do, my only goal is to praise God and give thanks.” Bishop Haller may well be the first United Methodist Bishop to compete in the Marathon. “I suspect that might be,” she said. “It’s an endeavor that’s very difficult. It’s not for everyone. It takes a lot of time and effort and perseverance… and that’s exactly why I do it – to test my-self and challenge myself and see how far I can make my body run.” Running long distances is nothing new for Iowa’s bishop. She has competed in several triathlons, “which is where you run and you bike and you swim, ” she noted. She has won several in her class. She’s even competed in all-day ‘iron man triathlons.’ “I have always gravitated toward longer distances. The longest distance I’ve done in a race is 50 miles…. that was quite a challenge!’ “I like to look at running as wasting time with Jesus.” Bishop Haller said as she talked about how running feeds her soul. “It’s a way in which, since I was in my 20’s, that I’ve been able to get outside, exercise my body, and to be away from everything just to be with Jesus. I can enjoy nature and God’s good creation.” “It’s a challenge,” she added, talking about how she is able to juggle her training schedule with the many demands of being Iowa’s episcopal leader. ‘Over the years I’ve discovered that the more difficult my jobs are in my ministry settings, the more I need to take that kind of time away.” It helps Bishop Haller to know that after working all day, ‘I’m going to be out there exercising my body and trying to be more of a whole person.” Exercising feeds her body, her mind, and her spirit. ‘It makes me a much better pastor, a much better bishop, and a much better human being.” When asked if she would encourage others to do something like what she’s doing Bishop Haller responded by saying, ‘Running marathons isn’t for everyone, but most everyone can get outside and take a walk, maybe ride a bike or find another way to get their body moving and some way to use the energy that’s in-side of each one of us to take care of ourselves. There’s a purpose in all that, she adds. “That we can be out there making a difference in the world.'” —Written on April 17, 2017 by Liz Winders, Office of Com-munications, Iowa Annual Conference You may follow Bishop Laurie and many of her adventures by visiting the conference web site at iaumc.org. Otherwise, I’ll see you out...

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