Pastor’s Corner

We’ve missed you!

Donuts… In my head I can hear the semi-trance state voice of Homer Simpson.  A tasty dreamlike groan as he imagines savoring the delectable baked goods.  Are you craving a donut yet?  Good!  You can come to worship this weekend and once again share in the joy of coffee, donuts and fellowship between services!

This weekend we will be providing donuts and coffee.  In case you were wondering, we are aware that our coffee and donuts aren’t “world renowned”.  The fellowship of believers you will experience around these normal, everyday treats is truly Heaven sent.  Just one more example of how God uses the ordinary to accomplish the extraordinary!

In Hebrews 10:25, God speaks to us through the author about the importance of fellowship and meeting together.  When we are together, we can “encourage one another” and spur one another toward love and good deeds.  The opposite of that we are warned against:  “neglecting to meet together”.  When we are apart, it is much more difficult to encourage one another.  

I will admit, with the technological advances we have today it is much easier to reach out and reconnect with one another.  At the same time, it is also much easier to feel alone and disconnected.  Life seems to move at such a fast pace that many feel like they are being forgotten or left behind. 

So, take a moment this weekend to stop and “meet together”.  Coffee and donuts are optional!

In addition to the incentive to fellowship over coffee and donuts, another more important fellowship experience is returning.  This weekend we will offer the option to come forward to receive Holy Communion.  For the last two years we have been only offering Communion “in the pew”; this option will still be available.  However, for those who desire to come forward as an act of worship, Communion will be available to be received from the pastor at the altar. 

As we reinstate Holy Communion at the altar, it will look different than you remember.  For many reasons we will be offering Communion in a different format than in the past.  This will simplify the distribution and also make it consistent across all the services.  We will consider further changes once the pandemic is fully in the past but, for now, we will still take into consideration several mitigation practices. 

We hope this weekend will feel more like the community that is so valuable to our faith journey.  We hope that these changes will encourage those who attend and inspire those who are uncertain to return to worship in person.  Even if you may be concerned about a larger gathering like worship, hopefully these changes will cause you to consider how to reengage or take one more step closer to being in true Christian community and fellowship.  

After all, it isn’t about the coffee and donuts; it is about our Lord who is at the center of it all.  It is about one another as we are the representatives of Christ.  It is about those far from God, whom God desires to draw near to Himself through us – you and me, His Holy Church. 

Can’t wait to reconnect!

In Christ,

Pastor Erik Gauss

Pastor’s Corner

Merry Christmas!

Miraculously, my heart and mind are filled with gratitude this Christmas.  It wasn’t always that way this year.  No, at the beginning of the year I was grateful that COVID was winding down, confident that we would have a more typical summer, and that this 2021-2022 school year would be significantly better COVID-wise than the previous year.  I too, like many of you, have been filled with disappointment this year, but that has changed.

I can’t say what exactly turned the page for me, but it was sometime during this fall while I was praying and reading Scripture.  That is how I know it was from God, because my heart would not have changed on its own.  I was tired and frustrated like everyone else.  Then God put a perspective on my heart, a perspective that allowed me to see what He sees and hear what He hears:  the frustrations, the heartache, the need for this broken world to have a healing Savior.  That’s when it hit me. 

No, I didn’t think I needed to die like Jesus to save the world.  But I did need to remember that Jesus already died and already saved this world.  I did need to die to my selfish thoughts and selfish desires to see the bigger picture. 

The very thing this world needs, the very thing I needed, we already have.  My heartache, my frustration, my anger and exhaustion, the stress I was feeling – it was all the work of the devil.  This is the same work he has been doing since the beginning of time when he convinced Adam and Eve they needed more than a perfect world without evil.  The devil and our flesh cause us humans to feel emptiness when, in fact, we are blessed beyond all measure. 

I am blessed to be on this journey with you.  I am blessed to be a part of a community that values the Word of God and living out that Word of God in the world.  I am blessed to have a Savior that promises me strength and endurance even when I grow faint or weary or frustrated.  He lifts me up like on the wings of an eagle.

You could look at the world right now and grieve.  You can feel loss and grow anxious, but we don’t need to remain feeling that way.  Our God sees what we see and sent His Son so that we can find hope and strength and joy in Him!  As I look around now, instead of seeing brokenness, I see hope.  I see an opportunity for the love of God to make a world changing difference in the lives of the people around me. 

We have the Light of the world, the Prince of peace, a wonderful Counselor and a mighty God.  That sure sounds like a lot of things the world is looking for.  Things I was longing for.  Things we already have.

May the presence of Christ in your life bring that transformation for you as well.  I pray this Christmas we rally together as a church around the manger and bring hope to one another.  Then, working together to be the light in the darkness and to bring joy to the world!

Have a merry Christmas and a blessed new year!

Pastor Erik Gauss

Pastor’s Corner

Christmas Obligations

Obligations.  I will not ask you to say them out loud nor will I tell you mine specifically, but we all have obligations at Christmastime.  Christmas can be a season of great inspiration where we are able to be generous.  It can also be a season of expectations to be generous in ways we don’t desire.  On occasion, the obligations of the season are able to rob us of the joy we ought to experience at such a meaningful time.  

If you find yourself flush with obligations, you may be able to relate to the reading from Hebrews 10:5-6 this weekend:  “Sacrifice and offering you did not desire… with burnt offerings and sin offerings you were not pleased.”  For thousands of years and hundreds of generations the people of God made required sacrifices and offerings at the temple.  The people of God would travel across the known world multiple times of year to fulfill these obligations of faith.  

I am certain that the people of faith would regularly fulfill the expectations of God out of a spirit of sincere gratitude.  I am also quite certain that at times, the faithful people of God had no desire to drop everything and make yet another expensive trip and offer pricey sacrifices to their God.  No matter how faithful a person, occasionally life gets in the way.

“It is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins”  Hebrews 10:4.  The obligation to pilgrimage to the temple and make sacrificial atonement for their sins didn’t work?!?  It was commanded in Scripture, written in the laws, required by the spiritual leaders, but it doesn’t do anything.  Why would God say the very laws He required didn’t accomplish anything? 

It isn’t the act of sacrifice that makes us holy; holiness is from our faith in the one sacrifice that grants us forgiveness.  

God loves us so much that He sacrificed His perfect Son to be our Savior.  That sacrifice is what takes away our sin.  The sacrifices we make are for the benefit of others around us and for the strengthening of our own faith.  When we give a sacrificial offering to God’s Church, it doesn’t make us a good person.  But it does bless the ministry of God’s Kingdom work on earth, and it keeps God’s provision in our lives at the front of our own heart and mind.

On the other hand, doing something with the wrong heart and attitude without an openness to what God might be doing through it doesn’t make us better.  We aren’t a better employee, neighbor, family member or church participant because we fulfill our obligation.  But when we prayerfully join in what God is trying to do, He makes it a blessing for all. 

When we drop our own plans and bless a neighbor in need, it doesn’t make us holy, but it serves our neighbor and gives us a better perspective of what is truly important.  When we fulfill our “obligations” to work or family or whatever is pulling at us this busy season, we are part of bringing joy to others and maybe, just maybe, we find joy ourselves.  When we join our hearts with God’s heart, it is impossible to know what amazing things God will accomplish in us and through us.

Try something this Christmas season.  Try lifting up your gift giving, your schedule, and all your obligations this year to the Lord in prayer.  Check your heart and mind, and if the Lord doesn’t compel you to fulfill that obligation this year, respectfully decline.  But if He does put it on your heart to participate, then do so with a joyful heart and see what He does through it.  It will transform your Christmas season and will keep your Savior, Jesus, at the center of it all.

“We have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once and for all.”  Hebrews 10:10

His servant and yours,

Pastor Erik Gauss

Pastor’s Corner

It’s All About the Eyes

Christmas movies are one of the great traditions of the season.  These cinematic tales run the gamut, such as cheesy action packed (that is, if you are willing to count Die Hard as a Christmas movie, but I digress).  With so many Christmas movies and so little time at Christmas, how does a person choose where to spend their time?  I like lots of different genres, so for me, one of the most important factors to determine if I will stay tuned for the whole show is the eyes of the actors.

I am not an acting critic or a movie buff, but I know what I like.  If I am to be convinced a movie is worth my time and attention, then I need the actors to convince me that they believe this story is worth their time and attention.  Physical comedy, voice inflection, even camera shots can all be faked, but it is almost impossible to fake the story your eyes are telling. 

Our eyes are fascinating members of the body – their complexity and beauty.  I once had a person tell me they didn’t like looking a pastor in the eye because they felt I could see into their soul.  While this was said in jest, there is a certain truth that our eyes give a window to our true thoughts or emotions.  Someone says they are fine, but their eyes show their true weariness.  A person says they are not anxious, but their eyes dart around the room in a nervous pattern. 

God frequently uses the eye as a teaching tool for us.  The prophet Ezekiel in 12:2 says that rebellious people have eyes but do not see.  The psalmist writes in 121:1 that we should lift our eyes to the hills for it is from there our help comes.  In Hebrews 12:2 we are instructed to fix our eyes on Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of our faith.  

We find strength when our eyes are on Jesus and His mighty Word.  We find fear and anxiety when we fix our eyes on the world and its troubles.  This is the second week of Advent, and already the temptation is there to take our eyes off the meaning of Christmas.  The first week is easy to make the commitment to pray and prepare for the true meaning of Christmas, but as the day draws near, the distractions increase.  The presents need to be wrapped, the impending family gathering is stressful, the food needs to be planned, the special Christmas programs, parties and events are mounting.  We take our attention off Jesus to deal with all these things, and the stress and anxiety increase – and this was before COVID and masks ever existed. 

John the Baptist is doing this same thing in our readings for this weekend.  John had his eyes on Jesus during his ministry.  He was preparing the way for the Lord and it was going well but now, John finds himself in jail.  John sees the impending doom and sends a message to Jesus, “Are You the One to come, or should we look for another?”  

The realities of John’s personal circumstances overwhelmed his ability to see the big picture.  The immediate needs and distractions of his life outweighed his ability to see Jesus.  Jesus replied lovingly but firmly, “The blind receive sight.”  Jesus said other things as well, but when it came to the eyes, it was all about what you see.

Jesus tells the crowd that on earth there was no one greater than John the Baptist, but it isn’t about the earth.  It is about the Kingdom of Heaven coming down to earth, being known on earth and being our focus.  Jesus taught that the least in the kingdom of heaven would be greater than John the Baptist. 

Where are your eyes focused this Christmas?  Where are they focused each day?  When we focus on our problems, our worries, the world and all its troubles, those things grow larger in our view and hide Jesus from sight.  When we focus on Jesus, the worries, anxieties and troubles of this world grow fuzzy and are hidden behind our Savior Jesus.  

As important as our eyes are, what is even more important is where our eyes are focused.  This season we focus them on the tiny Babe born in the manger, the One who would grow to be Savior of the world.  When we look, when we focus, when we walk, this same Savior reminds us to walk not just by sight and the things we see in the world but instead to walk by faith and the things we see when we focus on Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of our faith.  

In Christ, 

Pastor Erik Gauss

Pastor’s Corner

Faithful for the Future

Stage one is underway!  It all happened so fast, and we weren’t sure how it would go, but the City of Yorkville approved our revised plans and gave us a building permit on Tuesday.  On Wednesday morning we “broke ground” and began site prep for the Caring Hands Thrift Shop addition!  Our Construction Manager, Frank Willman, wanted to get started immediately to stay ahead of the weather.

This is a true blessing for many reasons.  The Thrift Shop expansion is critical for the overall success of our major building project.  In this project we will expand the school, our overall Children’s Ministry and complete some much needed updates to our overall facilities.  More specifically, the Thrift Shop expansion will allow us to empty our Cold Storage area and begin construction there as soon as funds and materials are available.

After the first of the year we will highlight exactly what the Thrift Shop expansion looks like.  For now it is enough to say that the shop will remain at its current location and the size of the facility will double.  This will increase our ministry impact into the community, allow our volunteers to work and serve indoors rather than in makeshift tents, and create space for ministries and community outreach activities to be held.  We are very excited about what God has been accomplishing and lives that have been blessed through this outreach ministry.

Our major project has a ways to go.  Our hope was to raise the full $6 million in order to keep the costs down for families that attend our school.  In reality we are just over $3 million and have a ways to go.  The good news is that we have many families in our Church and School who have not yet made a pledge.  We have over 500 families actively connected to Cross who have not yet made a pledge.  A gift of $5,000 spread over two years would raise an additional $2.5 million and allow us to reach our goal today! 

As the calendar year comes to a close and we begin this exciting step in the project, I ask you to prayerfully consider a gift.  If you already have plans to do so but have not let us know, you can fill out a pledge intention at this link.  If you need more information, visit our campaign page at www.hiscross.org/faithful.  

Maybe God will lead you and your family to make a larger gift to help us reach the goal faster.  Maybe God will lead you to a smaller gift, but don’t be discouraged.  I am confident that God who promised is faithful.  Our team is confident God will provide a way forward; we just don’t know what that looks like exactly.  What I do know is that if you are reading this, you are part of that plan!  Please let God lead you to participate in however He encourages through your prayers and your reading of God’s Holy Word.  Consider using Advent devotions or the devotions in our campaign booklet.  You can find them by clicking this link.

We are truly excited how God is clearing that path and moving us forward.  We have a long way to go!  Join together as a body of Christ to share the Good News of Jesus with all the world!

“For this is what the Lord has commanded us: ‘I have made you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.’”  Acts 13:47

In Christ,

Pastor Erik Gauss

Pastor’s Corner

Thankful for You!

It doesn’t matter what you believe about COVID or any other issue facing our world; these last couple years have been exceptionally stressful for all of us.  I just want to take a few moments and thank God for YOU!  I always thank my God for you because of His grace given you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Corinthians 1:4  

I often write and preach about how our faith in Christ Jesus impacts how we live.  Scripture reminds us that that living impacts others.  Today I am saying “Thank you!” to remind all of us that our actions don’t just impact unbelievers or random strangers, but in fact our actions impact fellow believers. 

It has not been an easy year in leadership.  We have been required to make countless decisions on a daily basis for the last two years.  Not a single decision has been easy and not one of them has brought unanimous agreement, yet you have all bonded together for the greater good.  You have rested your eyes on Jesus  and set an example for believers and unbelievers alike.  

Paul Goffron (our principal) and I recently sent this following excerpt to our school parents, and I thought it was appropriate to send to our worshipping congregation as well.  It is true of all of us, the family of faith at Cross, and it is worth remembering and celebrating!

Let’s Celebrate – We are a family at Cross, a large family, but a family.  We have varying opinions and varying needs, but we have unity in the one Head, Jesus Christ.  Can we celebrate that for a minute?  Paul writes this to the believers in Philippians 2:3-5:

“Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.  Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.  Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus…”

Thank you for being an awesome family of faith at Cross.  Thank you for sacrificing for one another.  It is an honor to serve in a place like this, where dirty rotten sinners submit to the Word of God and to one another, even in the most challenging of times.  None of us are even close to perfect on this; we all need to confess and forgive one another.  We all need to give Jesus our fears and put our trust in Him.  We thank God for each of you who pray for us, and we are certainly praying for you!

Thank you, Cross!  Your grace and patience inspire me to keep going.  Your truth spoken in love sharpens my decision making and Gospel proclamation.  Your actions shine the light of Christ’s love into the world and on one another.  Your prayers sustain and strengthen me when I am weak.

Take some time this week and be thankful for one another.  No, we don’t always agree on everything.  Yes, we can get on one another’s nerves.  But, we agree that Jesus Christ and His life saving gift is the top priority.  We believe our differences make us a stronger and more complete ministry for Jesus.  We believe our weakness allows God’s grace to shine even more.  For all of this and more, we are a perfect family of faith and that is something for which to be thankful. 

“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds”  Hebrews 10:24

Thankfully serving Him and you,

Pastor Erik Gauss

Pastor’s Corner

Jude

Small, but mighty!  Less is more!  A little goes a long way!  We have all sorts of sayings to illustrate how something that may be easy to overlook might actually be “More than meets the eye!”  When we consider the New Testament book of Jude, we “Don’t judge a book by its cover!”  

One of my favorite things to do at Christmas is to disguise a gift by packaging it in an unsuspecting way.  I have been known to add weight, broken glass (for sound effects), multiple layers of tape, boxes and additional wrapping.  I have separated one gift into multiple packages.  The list goes on and on in an effort to throw the unsuspecting recipient off the scent of what the gift might be.  It isn’t uncommon in our home for the most expensive gift to come in an envelope as a picture of a future trip or simply a gift card to a favorite store.

With the Book of Jude the same saying would hold true that “Big things come in small packages!”  Are you tired of the sayings yet?  We have so many ways of saying it because our temptation is to overlook the small, unassuming things and be more intrigued by larger or more attractive packaging.  

Think of Jude as a well edited essay with a word count limit.  The author uses words and illustrations that are three words long and packed with meaning.  Like “the way of Cain” referring to the multiple chapters in Genesis where we learn of the first brothers and how Cain was jealous of the relationship Abel had with their parents and with God.  A few words in Jude “might look innocent, but they pack a mean punch!”

Jude is the next-to-last book in the Bible and as such sets up the last book, Revelation.  Jude addresses the challenges and betrayal the believers will feel by the world and even other believers as they get lost in temptation and seduced away from the truth of the Lord.  Jude, believed to be the brother of Jesus, begins with a desire to celebrate the salvation we all have in Jesus, but quickly explains the need to address the hurt believers are experiencing in the world.

While a quick read of Jude (It is only 25 verses.) might cause you to be discouraged initially, I find it exceptionally helpful to know that when I hurt, I am in good company.  Jude reminds us quickly and impactfully that people have believed and fallen away throughout time.  Jude reminds us that believers are regularly rejected, persecuted, disrespected and uprooted for our faith.  BUT!!!  Jude also reminds us this is not the fault of evil people; it is the fault of the Evil One who has ensnared and deceived these people.

Jude acknowledges that there will be scoffers who seek to divide the faithful.  We are called to be faithful and rescue them from the fires of deception by showing mercy, even to our enemies.  Jude reminds us that this isn’t a sign of weakness, but rather a sign of strength.  That God has these circumstances and our future in His mighty, powerful and capable hands.  We are able to live with confidence, boldness, humility and mercy because our God is in control of all things. 

In the most challenging of times, and there will be times even more challenging than now, we are able to have peace.  We are able to seek and obtain unity of the believers.  We are filled with great joy, and we are able to save others who are currently far from God.  What a blessing it is that in times of trial we are able to turn our attention from everything that is going wrong and focus on what God is doing in and through us in this opportunity for truth and hope to shine through.  This “little Gospel light of mine will shine all the time!”

“But you, dear friends, by building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life.”  Jude:20-21

His servant and yours,

Pastor Erik Gauss

Pastor’s Corner

The End Is Near

“Come, Lord Jesus, come!”  I have certainly prayed this prayer, or something similar to it, countless times these past two years.  My faith has compelled me to cry out to God in exhaustion and desperation, asking the Lord of creation, “Are we there yet?”  Like a child riding in the backseat on a long road trip, the excitement of the destination creates a longing for the drudgery of the journey to come to an end. 

As a child, my family would make frequent road trips to visit extended family all around the country.  Over the years I learned to adapt.  Riding in a car for over 30 hours requires an elevated level of creativity and endurance.  When you have to turn around and drive another 30 hours back home in a few days … some might call that insanity. 

I learned to pass the time with activities, like reading a road map (yes, the old fashioned kind printed on paper).  We would read license plates of other cars, play games and listen to music.  (Watching any form of videos was quite a bit of work and might make for an interesting story, but I will save that for another time.)

All of these entertainment ideas and more still left a lot of time to fill.  But, there was one activity that almost always kept my attention:  I loved to watch the scenery.  Mountains, valleys, bridges, trees, perfect rows of endless fields, construction zones, rolling hills, landfills, wildlife, small towns, large cities, zany roadside attractions, and even the different designs of the various roadways all kept my attention, and more importantly, kept me in the moment.  There were certainly stretches of each trip where even the scenery became mundane, but it didn’t take long before there was something interesting to observe and appreciate. 

Life is very much like a long road trip for a believer.  The idea and reality of the destination is so glorious that we often long for it, and rightly so.  But the journey is pretty spectacular in its own right.  If we can figure out how to complain less and instead appreciate each part of the journey more, the trip has a very different feel to it. 

From Reformation (Halloween) until Advent (Thanksgiving) we spend some time in church thinking about the End Times.  This may not be what you first imagine it to be.  When Jesus and other prophets speak about the End Times, it isn’t about how amazing Heaven will be or how faith will fill the earth and peace will reign.  Instead the Scriptures give us a poignant reminder that life is, and will continue to be, difficult for all people, but especially believers, right up until the last day when Jesus returns.

Will it be especially difficult for believers?  Because we know what awaits at the end of the road trip.  We know the glorious plans God has for us, and we know we COULD be experiencing more of those blessings now.  We will frequently be tempted to ask God, “Are we there yet?” which translates in faith journey language to “How long till You return, Lord?”

God never tells us to stop asking.  In fact He loves when we ask because it shows we believe and have faith in the promise of eternal life.  Our Heavenly Father loves when we believe and trust Him!  Instead, when we ask how long, God reminds us that we still have work to do on this journey.  He redirects our attention from longing for the future to appreciating the present.  

When we see trouble, God sees an opportunity:  from heartache to hope, from pain to healing, from war to peace, from sin to forgiveness, from unbelief to faith.  Where we as people in our flesh desire the destination to arrive and the journey to be complete, especially in those less than thrilling times, God reminds us that in the darkest moments of longing, the Light of Christ shines brightest.  May you long for the Light of Christ in your life and in the world and, at the same time, know He is here already, working in you and me in the midst of the darkness.  How long?  In His perfect timing.  Until then, look around and see His mighty hands at work.  It is truly a sight to behold and a journey to enjoy. 

(Jesus said,) ”I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have peace.  In this world you will have trouble.  But take heart!  I have overcome the world.”  John 16:33

His servant and yours,

Pastor Erik Gauss

Pastor’s Corner

Unlikely Saints

November 1st is a day that has been set aside as a day to remember those of great faith who have been a blessing to us.  We call it All Saints’ Day, and we especially remember those who have died in the faith and the legacy they have left behind.  How good must you be to be called a Saint?

A Christian is no more perfect than any other person.  We too are filled with sin and failures, weaknesses and struggles.  The difference is a Christian fully acknowledges these sins and receives forgiveness for them.  Christ paid the price for our sins; He received the punishment we should have received and so we are called Saints!  Fully forgiven people without the stain of sin!

Followers of Christ are, at the same time, fully sinners and fully Saints.  “But because of His great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.”  Ephesians 2:4.  God does not require any action on our part to be deemed a Saint; it only requires forgiveness earned and given to us from Christ. 

The reality of being both sinner and Saint isn’t easy to grasp.  In fact, more often than not we lean too far one way or the other.  One day I might think I am not good enough to serve God or be loved by Him; another day I might be so excited about what Jesus has done I think I am better than someone else.  This challenge is real, and we are not alone.  (Read Romans chapters 6-8 if you want to wrestle through this very thing with Paul.)

Generation after generation normal people, like you and me, are called to rest firmly in God’s grace.  We are called to celebrate our forgiveness and find joy in our failures.  We are called to live our faith in such an authentic way that it inspires others around us, just like someone living their faith inspired us!  We are called by God to be the most Unlikely Saints.

You may not think you are the one up for being such a role model.  You may think your past is too great to overcome or you are not equipped enough for today.  I assure you, these things only make you MORE qualified.  The more we lean on Christ’s forgiveness the more He shines through.  The more we point to Him the greater example we are to those who are furthest from Him.  If you could be a Saint, live like a Saint, forgive like a Saint without God’s power, you wouldn’t need God. 

Let’s celebrate the blessings of God’s faithful people who have passed down the faith to us.  Together we will “spur one another on toward love and good deeds” Hebrews 10:24.  And, in the end, we will be the most unlikely of Saints together!  Others will know the most unlikely gift of God’s unconditional love through us.

In Christ,

Pastor Erik Gauss

Pastor’s Corner

Big Weekend!

In any normal year I would be writing about how Halloween is one of the biggest Mission Nights of the year!  We get to see and interact with so many of our community members, as well as make a big impression (best candy, coolest costume, most fun door greeting, etc.) on those whom we encounter.  Some years I even note that All Hallow’s Eve was first a Christian holiday before it became the modern day Halloween.  For now, I will leave that idea to stir your imagination and encourage you that Mission is the most important thing!

At the same time there are some exciting means to the mission that we are also celebrating this weekend.  The first is a Commissioning and Installation of Jan Kinsel.  Jan graduated in 2017 with her certificate as Director of Church Ministries.  She started working here through a Divine Call of the congregation this summer, but her paperwork and planning finally allow us to celebrate formally this weekend!  Join us Sunday at 8 AM as we recognize what God is doing through Jan’s leadershipto equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ.”  Ephesians 4:12

This Sunday is Reformation Sunday where we traditionally remember the work of Martin Luther as he challenged the Church to look at itself and become more in line with the Gospel of Jesus.  The leaders of the Church refused to repent, and a full-on “Reformation” was born.  We are reminded once again this year that as a congregation we are called to remain focused on and diligent of the work of Jesus and His ministry, not the work of the Church.

Last but not least, this weekend is Commitment Sunday for our Capital Campaign.  For the last eight weeks we have been about personal spiritual evaluation.  For the last two years the devil has been working hard to get us off track.  It is time to refocus on the calling God has for us.  We are called to mature as Disciples of Jesus who Walk with God in Worship, Grow in Faith Together, and Love Our Neighbors.  For the last two years we have had a difficult time doing any of these things together.  

Even without the difficulty we have encountered to gather as a congregation, God has still been at work.  We have refocused as church and school leaders and have encouraged our congregation to do the same, to put aside the things that divide and seek unity in the midst of these trying times.  There is nothing more powerful to an unbelieving world than to see the children of God rise up in victory. 

This weekend is a big weekend because it is a weekend we have set aside to celebrate what it means to reprioritize and refocus on the things of God, to hand our worries and our fears, our doubts and our futures back to the One who has power and authority to lead us.  God is good, has promised to be faithful and only asks one thing:  for us to remain connected to Him through His Word, His community of believers and His Kingdom’s Mission (which, by the way, is just another way to say Walk, Grow and Love). 

Join us in worship this weekend.  We will celebrate God’s blessing of the Past, through the Reformation, the Present as we celebrate together, and the Future as we (re)commit to the mission of our Lord! 

“The One who calls you is faithful, and He will do it.”  1 Thessalonians 5:24

In Christ,

Pastor Erik Gauss