Pastor’s Corner

Pumpkin with Cross

Pastor’s Corner – Reclaiming Halloween 

Each year, it becomes more and more apparent that Halloween is a big deal.  I see neighbors around us setting up their Halloween decorations weeks in advance. Dedicated Halloween stores pop up in all sorts of vacant store fronts, and haunted houses fill otherwise rundown homes.  It seems like Halloween has become the new Christmas for many.

The irony in all of this is that Halloween is originally a Christian holiday and December 25th was traditionally a non-Christian holiday.  Early on, the Christian faith didn’t celebrate Jesus’ birth.  We don’t know exactly what date Jesus was born, but we selected December 25th, in part so Pagans converting to the Christian faith would be able to continue some of their family traditions, but with Christian emphasis.

Halloween is “All Hallows’ Eve” when faithful Christians would commemorate their loved ones who died in the faith and are awaiting the resurrection.  Halloween is the night before All Saints’ Day — think of it as Christmas Eve.

I would like to see us, as Christians, be as excited about reclaiming Halloween as we are about keeping “Christ” in Christmas.  How can we keep Christ present at Halloween? Below are a few ideas to get the juices flowing:

  1. Pray – Anytime we engage the world for God we want to lead with prayer!
  2. Participate – You are the presence of Christ in the world.  When Christians disengage from the culture, the culture ends up without Christ.  Walk with your neighbors, sit outside and chat with the grown-ups.  Be at the door ready to go!
  3. Be Generous – Too often, we as Christians try to be “good” at Halloween and give out Christian brochures or pennies so teeth don’t rot.  What if we gave out “good” candy and had a great attitude?
  4. Be Neighborly – Know your neighbors, and when they comment on your great candy or awesome costume or decorations, you can keep building your relationship.
  5. Let Christ Be Evident – If you live for Christ, people will know.  Neighbors see your good attitude and your bad habits.  Don’t be “too good” to hang with your neighbors.  Meet them where they are and show them what it looks like to love God.

Hopefully, this helps as you consider how to reclaim Halloween and let God work through you this Fall!

In Christ,

Pastor Erik Gauss

Pastor’s Corner


Spanish-Language Worship at Cross

After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!”  Revelation 7:9-10

This past weekend, Pastor Walter Ramirez and his congregation, Iglesia Luterana Cross, hosted their first 10:30 AM worship service in our Youth Center.  In the past, Pastor Walter has hosted worship at facilities in Plano and the Loving Arms Child Care Center on Cross’ North Campus.  But now it’s exciting to see a Spanish-language opportunity here at Cross!  While Iglesia Luterana Cross’ worship starts a little earlier than our last service (10:30 AM vs 10:45 AM), realize that EVERY Sunday at 10:45 AM there are TWO worship services happening on Cross’ campus!

It’s exciting because this new style of worship might be a blessing to someone you know.  As we live out our faith missionally in the community, Spanish-language worship might be the perfect opportunity to connect with a friend, family member, or even a coworker.  We have another opportunity to invite someone to worship with us at Cross.  Maybe you don’t speak the Spanish language, but you could help facilitate a connection with Pastor Walter and his congregation.

This is also exciting because we can easily have additional bilingual worship services – like we did this past Pentecost.  It’s easier now than ever for our congregations to come together and worship in both languages.  And not just worship; but, our congregations could also come together in fellowship and service opportunities, working side-by-side to be a blessing to the greater community.

This provides an additional opportunity for the people of Cross to help and encourage Pastor Walter and his ministry.  Have you ever wanted to take part in a cross-cultural experience?  You don’t have to go far!  Connect with Pastor Walter!  As we take the time to get to know Pastor Walter and his congregation members, we might realize we have a gift or skill that could be a blessing to some of the ministries that Pastor Walter is trying to provide for the community.

But most importantly, Pastor Walter’s worship in our Youth Center reminds us of what heaven will look like.  The apostle John saw, “a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb.”  John saw God’s people, in all of their differences, gathering around the same God in worship.  In Christ, we who are different, are all made one.  I’m excited to partner with Iglesia Luterana Cross here on Cross’ campus – but I’m even more excited for how God is going to work through both groups to reach our surrounding community!

Pastor Matt Conrad

Pastor’s Corner

Church Hurts

Hurt by the Church

Have you ever been hurt by another Christian, a Christian church or a church leader?  If you haven’t, you are either lying or forgetful.  It seems like you can’t make it a week without reading an article or seeing a show about how a Christian leader or entire church has failed morally or ethically or legally.  This week I learned there is a seven part Netflix series serving as a documentary on this very issue.

Sometimes it feels like being a Christian is an impossible uphill battle.  We get accused by unbelievers of being close minded.  When we do find people open to God’s work in their life, they are “done” with the church, and then we come to church only to get frustrated with the people we are worshipping with.  I know I am not painting a very pleasing picture, but it is a truth we need to address.  In his book God Space, Doug Pollack dedicates an entire chapter to teaching Christians who wish to make a positive impact for God that sometimes the journey starts with rebuilding burned bridges.

It used to frustrate me to no end when people who said they were Christian would hurt other believers and even worse, hurt an unbeliever.  When I learned about injustices caused or worsened by the church, it would break my heart.  While these things still cause me great sorrow, my reaction is much different.  The beauty of the church isn’t that we never hurt each other; the beauty is that when we do hurt each other, we have the gift of confession and absolution.  The power of confessing your sin and forgiving those who have harmed you is life changing, eternal life changing even.

When people run from the church, or from church people, when we run from people who hurt us or to avoid potential conflict, we allow the devil to continue to increase our hurts and our division.  When we take to heart the prayer Jesus taught us, we are able to enter a place of beauty and healing to forgive one another and redeem our sins by washing them in Christ’s blood.

As people connected to the church and connected to Christ we are able to not only hurt each other greatly but help each other heal.  We have the gift of God’s grace and His forgiveness to us that lead us in the ministry of reconciliation.  While my heart still aches when Christ’s church fails each other, I remain tremendously encouraged that each time is an opportunity to have conversations with people about forgiveness, healing and the truth that Christians are sinners, too.  The difference is we know it and depend on Christ to overcome it.

“All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to Himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation.”  2 Corinthians 5:18


Pastor’s Corner


Walking in His Footprints

We are in the middle of this fall sermon series on leading others by first being followers of Jesus.  To follow Jesus is “easy” and the “burden is light”.  It doesn’t always seem that way, and it certainly doesn’t always feel that way.  Jesus and the whole of the Scriptures continuously remind us that this is the case.  That in the world we will have trouble; we will experience heartache such that we will groan with all of creation in pain, like a woman in childbirth.  The difference is that we are not left to suffer or abandoned until we get the hard work done.  We are led by Christ!

I imagine following Jesus as similar to someone following another through difficult terrain.  Maybe it is tall grasses and weeds, or deep snow.  The first person to go does all the difficult work of clearing the brush or trampling the snow.  The second person is able to literally walk in the first person’s footsteps or follow the same path that has already been cleared.  Being the first follower is much easier than clearing a new path!

I firmly believe that as Christians we falsely believe God is asking us to trod a new path or initiate a new direction.  Our assumption is that whatever is in front of us is “our responsibility” that God has given to us.  We easily forget Jesus and the Holy Spirit go before us.  God works in the heart of man and knocks down barriers.  He makes the path straight by raising up valleys and lowering mountains.  Yes, the work is still difficult, but it not nearly as difficult as we often make it.

The key to being a successful Christian leader is not by solving the world’s problems but rather by following where Jesus leads.  He has gone before us and calls us into action as a response to His work.  He desires to comfort, protect and challenge us to greater faith by listening and leaning in to Him.

Where do you try to carve your own path?  Where have you rejected Christ’s leadership?  Where have you taken God’s responsibilities and made them your own?  Take a moment and give those burdens back to Christ and take His path to be your own.  You will go farther and find more joy in trusting and following Him than you’ve ever experienced, and so will those lives of the people around you.

His servant and yours,

Pastor Erik Gauss