Pastor’s Corner


Pastor’s Corner – Keeping Joy

Joy and sadness are not opposites.   Sadness is an emotion caused by circumstance and surroundings; joy is a conscious choice to find the good in things. The opposite of sad is happy, an emotion that is caused by things going well for you or by finding joy in the midst of trial. Sorrow is the opposite of joy and comes when we focus on loss and sad circumstances.

Whether you completely agree with these definitions, please hear me out and I promise you will be blessed through the process. Finding joy is always an important skill, but especially meaningful now that we find ourselves in the midst of change and uncertainty. Maybe you love the home quarantine; I’ve heard from several families that do. Or, maybe you do not like it at all; I can relate to that as well. Regardless, there have been and will be times in the future where you are unhappy with the circumstances that surround your life and joy is the solution that God provides.

In the Bible, God never promises happiness. Our Country is founded on the pursuit of happiness, but it really should be the pursuit of joy. To pursue joy is to pursue that which brings meaning and which can never be taken from you. Happiness can be robbed of you; a death of a loved one, a loss of a job, fear of the unknown. In fact, if we put hope and happiness in anything in this world it can be robbed from us. God promises to provide a peace that surpasses human understanding. This peace comes when we put out hope and happiness in Christ alone.

How do we put our hope in Christ alone so we can find joy in times of adversity? First, we need to grow in our faith of who God is and what He is doing. If we don’t believe He is bigger and stronger than whatever we are dealing with than it will be difficult to find joy in Him. Second, we need to practice. The devil is good at distracting us and knocking us off balance. We need to practice clinging to Christ, who is a firm foundation and our solid rock. Third, is to surround our self with God’s truth. This will serve as a protection and a reminder of what really, truly matters.

All this is not to say we can’t be sad. Remember, sadness happens as an emotional response. All the people written about in the Bible experienced sadness and most of them even experienced great sorrow. What makes these people of great faith is that they used the time of sorrow as an opportunity to sharpen their faith and increase their trust in God. This is my prayer for each of us. If you are not happy with whatever life is bringing you right now, use this time as an opportunity to strengthen your faith and to choose to put your hope and trust in God alone. To steal a few Red Letters from scripture I think of the words Jesus said to Paul (through a vision) when Paul was struggling with life. “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” 2 Corinthians 12:9

May the grace of God guard your heart and mind in Christ Jesus our Lord.

In Christ,

Erik Gauss

Pastor’s Corner

Psalm 27

Facing Adversity

This week Kendall County had its first confirmed case of COVID-19, and I would be shocked if there weren’t more by the time this actually gets to print.  Even the most fully prepared see things a little differently when your county is listed among those impacted.  Our prayers should first go to the families and friends of the individuals most closely impacted.  But, very quickly, our thoughts turn to our own family, and we wonder if we will be impacted.

If you aren’t already thinking this way, you should be acting as if you knew the person who was diagnosed.  Only those who are the most sick are being tested.  That means most people who are infected don’t know they have it.  Many will not even have symptoms.

We should not be in fear, but we must not be naive.  If you didn’t come in contact with someone, it is almost certain someone you know has.  What does this mean?  It means that we are in the same place now that we are every day – in the capable hands of an Almighty God.

There is nothing that happens to us that our God is not aware of.  There is no evil, no sickness, no plot of man and no fear that our God cannot and has not already handled.  David wrote in Psalm 27, “The Lord is my light and my salvation – whom shall I fear?  The Lord is the stronghold of my life – of whom shall I be afraid?”  David was in a real war with a physical enemy, and they were coming after him specifically.  These are powerful words, and I would encourage you to read the rest of that Psalm.

At the same time, we are to be diligent.  Just because we do not fear does not mean we run headfirst into danger.  In Matthew 4:7 Jesus quotes Deuteronomy 6:16, “Do not put the Lord your God to the test.”  Daniel didn’t run into the lion’s den; the famous three didn’t run into the fiery furnace; Jesus didn’t run to the cross.  These faithful people and many more prayed diligently for God to deliver them and at the same time faced their adversary with courage.

Do not go looking for trouble; follow the recommendations of our government officials.  But, do not be afraid or surprised when evil comes our way, in any form.  Jesus told us about that as well.

“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.”  Jesus’ words in John 16:33


Pastor’s Corner


Pastor’s Corner – Christian Response to Coronavirus

We have been monitoring the Coronavirus for months here at Cross.  We have increased our hand washing and our attentiveness to evening cleanings.  We believe it is time to further implement increased preventative measures for our church and school out of compassion for one another.

As Christians, our response to a crisis should look similar but different from the world.  As people who trust in God above all things, we can have peace that passes human understanding.  Martin Luther and his wife, Katharina, led the church in the face of the Black Plague in 1527.  This was a serious outbreak where the mortality rate was 70%!  Many people fled in fear, but Martin and Katharina stayed to minister to the sick.  You can read more about this here.

What we remember is that we have a God who is Lord over life and death.  He is our Great Physician, and regardless of what comes our way, He is in control.  We look forward with hope to eternal life and, therefore, have great confidence that even when we “walk through the valley of the shadow of death,” we fear nothing.  Our trust in God does not make us immune to sickness, but it does grant us immunity to fear.  Fear is our greatest enemy every day, but especially now as we deal with the unknown of the current Coronavirus.

Our Christian response is to have compassion for our neighbor who is ill and to be wise stewards in preventing contaminating others.  As a result, we will be continuing to increase our preventative response to this new virus here at Cross in the following ways.

For our school:

  1. We will fully enforce our sick policy. If we suspect one of our students is ill, we will send them home.  No questions asked.  You can help by keeping your student home and by having a plan in case we need to send your student home.  We love our students, but it is not loving to send sick students to school.
  2. There will be increased mandatory hand washing times. Our staff is putting these times together and will communicate and implement them.  In addition, we will reteach and remind all our students of proper hand washing guidelines.
  3. Remember to avoid touching your face. We know this is impossible for little ones (older ones too really).  But the truth is that disease transmission happens through the mouth and nose.
  4. No perfect attendance awards – To encourage and reinforce sick students to stay home, we are not recognizing perfect attendance awards at the end of the year.
  5. No high fives or handshakes – Our students and faculty are in tight quarters and touch many of the same surfaces. Removing high fives doesn’t do much in itself, but hitting elbows or other less normal greetings will remind us and keep us aware of the importance of good hygiene.  Hand washing is, and will remain, the key to prevention.
  6. Cleaning practices – You may notice a little more dust around, but that is because we are asking our cleaning service to put more time every night into washing down surfaces. We have a great cleaning service, but they will be even more diligent.
  7. Grandparents’ Day – Mortality rates are greatest in the elderly.  In consultation with the Kendall County Health Department and out of an abundance of caution, we chose not to gather the grandparents together.  All first through eighth grade programming and most family plans were centered around this half day of school.  We chose to cancel school entirely on Friday, March 13 to still give families that special time together.
  8. Will school cancel? – The response to this situation is changing rapidly.  If a case were to come forward, we would take the recommended action by our trusted authorities at the time.  We are researching and planning how to continue to serve our families and educate our students regardless of what happens.

For our church:

  1. Watch your health. Gathering in God’s house and hearing His Word is needed, especially in times of fear.  We are, however, asking ANYONE who has a fever or other symptoms to stay home.  This is important for the health of others.  Live stream is available for Sunday 7:45 AM and 9:15 AM worship services, plus Wednesday 7 PM Lenten services.  Contact the church office if you need help accessing the live stream.
  2. Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds. Please wash your hands throughout your time at Cross, especially before entering the sanctuary or dropping children off.  Washing with a “quick and thorough scrub” isn’t enough.  It takes time to kill the virus that may be on your hands.  A minimum of 20 seconds is the commonly recommended time – about the length of the Lord’s Prayer or twice through the alphabet song!
  3. Food. Food is cherished as we gather – donuts on Sunday and dinners on Wednesday during Lent.  For now we will still have food, but we are trying to get food servers to reduce the number of hands in the food.  If you are willing to volunteer, please contact the church office.
  4. Parents with Children. Please do not send your children to get food on their own.  We know Cross is your home and we love that, but it is home to a lot of people.  Please go with your children to get donuts or food and serve them.  If you see a child, help them.  Remember many of our parents are outnumbered and cherish the support of our Christian community.         

We remain in communication with our health department and are thankful there are no known cases in Kendall County.  The reality is this is unlikely to last.  In the future we may need to get stricter as cases get closer.  We will continue to keep you informed and implement procedures to keep each other as safe as possible.  Most of all, remember that much of the hysteria right now is way more damaging than the disease itself.  As God’s beloved children, we can and do have “peace that surpasses human understanding as He guards our hearts AND our minds in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  Philippians 4:7

In Christ,

Erik Gauss, Senior Pastor

Paul Goffron, Principal


Pastor’s Corner

Red Letter Challenge Forgiving

Pastor’s Corner – Challenged to Forgive

One of the biggest lies the world has ever told us is to “Forgive and Forget.”  If we need to forgive someone, chances are they hurt us.  If we have been hurt, forgetting is at best over simplistic and at worst impossible.  Our hurt, frustration and disappointment need to go somewhere.  Also, our healing and resting of trust don’t typically happen instantly.

Forgiveness can happen in an instant; it is a decision to allow God to “hold the burden” of our grievance.  Forgetting, on the other hand, typically takes time and is usually intermittent.  Rather than “forgive and forget,” I encourage people to confess and forgive.  I know that sounds a lot like eating vegetables and regular exercise for the body.  Not super exciting, but it is super effective.

To confess and forgive is to acknowledge your own sinfulness before God and before others.  When we acknowledge our own sin, we are more prepared to forgive others.  Jesus instruction, in His words, is to forgive others as you have been forgiven.  When we remember our own sinfulness and the great mercy God has showed on us, we are humbled to extend that same grace to others.

All that being said, one of the other great sins of a believer is to give cheap grace to others.  Cheap grace comes when we “forgive” others who have not confessed.  When we let one another “off the hook” and deprive others of the formative process of confession.  Forgiving someone who has not confessed can be the same as approving of the behavior or covering it up.  This can lead to reinforcing the other person’s sinful behavior and allow the sin to continue to grow.

The value of confessing, or saying “I’m sorry”, and the power of forgiving, while at times difficult, is the foundation for an honest and real relationship.  It can feel very vulnerable to admit your mistakes.  It can be even more uncomfortable to “let someone back in” after they have hurt you.  But, in the long run, it creates an emotional bond and offers healing that otherwise eludes us when we hold on to our disappointments or seek to get even.

This week will be the most challenging for many, but remember the goal of this challenge isn’t to be perfect, it is to lean into Jesus’ words and find direction and strength to the targets He provides.  If God is leading and we are following, we can have confidence to know that we will accomplish exactly what God intended, no matter what happens and no matter how difficult it may seem at the time.  Step into God’s forgiveness for you, and by His grace extend that same forgiveness to one another.

“Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” Ephesians 4:32

In Christ,

Erik Gauss