Pastor’s Corner

Christ Over Covid ALL CAPS

Pastor’s Corner – Christ Over COVID

Last week, I sent an email communication to our congregation.  (If you didn’t receive it, this is a great reminder to update your information with us.)  This email highlighted the financial situation at Cross and celebrated being approved for a PPP Loan.  This forgivable loan, from the federal government, is giving us space to breath during these uncertain financial times.  We were able to pledge to our hourly workers that they would be getting the paychecks they have been missing out on by not being allowed to work.  Also, employees at Cross do not qualify for unemployment so this is extra important.  Needless to say, it was a good weekend.

This week has also been good, but for a different reason.  The Federal government announced the funds had run dry and countless small businesses were left without this resource.  Many of those small businesses are right here in Kendall County.  The employees of these businesses were left unsupported. You know what this is like; feeling blessed while others struggle.   Our leadership staff were talking and praying about what we could do as so many of you have reached out asking the same question–when it suddenly became very clear.  We will do what Cross has always done; praise God for our blessings and use them to be a blessing for others.

This weekend, we are launching an extension of our Barnabas Benevolence Fund.  We are calling it “Christ over COVID” (I didn’t go to school for marketing).   This fund is set up so those of you, who God moves to bless others, will have a place to utilize those funds and bless the local community.  This is also an announcement for anyone who is feeling the pinch of the current circumstances.  Please know the family of faith at Cross is here to help!  The seed money for this fund will be from some donations we have already received and from Cross savings account.  We will put in an amount equal to a tithe (10%) of our PPP loan.

This fund will be dedicated to blessing families impacted during this pandemic and I am hoping to be creative with the blessing.  For example, I know Cross and my own household have had to invest in technology upgrades to be able to work remotely and e-learn all day long.  We have been blessed to be able to do this, but some cannot.  We will offer to pay for families to get internet or improved internet capabilities.  We will be able to bless the elderly or otherwise at risk with grocery deliveries.  We will use the funds to purchase gift cards at local restaurants and distribute them to families who are out of work or whose own small business has been forced to close.   Of course, we will offer these funds for tuition assistance and other household payments that families are struggling to make in these difficult times.

This isn’t just for Cross staff to distribute. If you have a neighbor or co-worker that has been laid off or who works in the healthcare profession and you want to say “thank you” let us know.  Or, maybe you have someone who wants counseling and doesn’t have insurance, or the insurance ran out.  Let me know and we can facilitate getting a blessing to them as well.  I don’t know how God will use these funds; I have a feeling this isn’t fully known to me but many of you out there know exactly how we can use this blessing to be a blessing into our community.

I hope you will consider making a donation to this effort as the Lord leads.  You can select Christ over COVID from the e-giving menu.  Also, prayerfully consider recommending people to get help from these funds or consider this a sign from God that you should ask for help for yourself!   You can contact me directly with any questions or if you need help with contacting and following up with people.  Blessings on your week and I pray this lifts your spirits a little as we are poised to be a blessing into the community in these difficult times.   We will bring good news of hope as a witness of The Good News of Hope!

“I will make you into a great nation,

and I will bless you;

I will make your name great,

and you will be a blessing.

I will bless those who bless you,

and whoever curses you I will curse;

and all peoples on earth

will be blessed through you.  Genesis 12:2-3

In Christ,

Pastor Erik Gauss


Pastor’s Corner


Pastor’s Corner – How About Some Good News?

I know we could all use a little good news right now.  In a recent zoom meeting, as we were going around asking how everyone was doing these days, someone said I could use some good news right now.  Of course, my initial and immediate response was “Christ is Risen!” Of course, the hearty return of “He is risen Indeed!” lifted everyone’s spirits.  And of course, we shared more good news, but none better than that.

How about you? Could you use some good news?  I want to invite you to stay connected to Cross and each other as we share encouragement in our downtimes and also our celebrations. I personally have seen a lot of good in the midst of this pandemic. And, while the good doesn’t always seem to outweigh the bad when it comes to health, stress and finances, the reality that there is a whole lot of good shows just how active our God is in redeeming brokenness in the world.

One difficult situation to deal with right now is death. We have had a couple in the congregation and the services need to be 10 or fewer and that includes the pastor and the funeral director!  In one case, neighbors came out of their homes and sang Amazing Grace as they social distanced around the edges of the lawn of the grieving family. As another senior entered his last days, people from Cross gathered outside his window of his care facility. The staff opened it up and they serenaded this saint of the Lord with hymns to sooth his soul.

Families have been impacted by the economic shut-down and are struggling to make ends meet.  Here at Cross your offerings and donations have allowed us to offset the pledges and tuitions these struggling families have not been able to make.  I am overjoyed and encouraged by the generosity of those who have stepped forward to make a gift that has helped other families in need.

I have seen families spending time together.  This should happen more, but in the United States we have valued busy-ness over togetherness so it doesn’t happen.  Families of all ages have their college kids home again or are spending more time together and this is fantastic. I know it is difficult for many families with everyone home or for singles quarantined alone, but I have seen so many people be creative with drive by waving or silly video chats that I am encouraged.  Joy is most deeply related to perspective. When we focus on the negative, we are robbed of joy. When we see the work God is doing to redeem the heartache, we are filled with joy even in the midst of hardship.

Of course, one of the greatest goods coming from this is the communities rallying together to support one another.  I have seen so many groups making facemasks for everyone from the elderly to medical staff. In fact, Pastor Matt and I had customized masks “show up” at church this week.  Star Wars for him and something more sanctified for me😀. I can’t possibly list all the people who are making phone calls running errands and otherwise creatively showing God’s love to one another.  Keep up the great work. If you aren’t seeing the good, look around a bit more. Take your eyes off the negative news feeds and put your eyes on the Lord. He will not only help you to see the good, but He will provide you with the Holy Spirit to BE the good in your community.

May the Light of Christ shine on you and may the power of the Holy Spirit keep you focused on Him to be His witness in all you say and do.  After all, there is no Good News greater than that!

In Christ,

Erik Gauss


Pastor’s Corner

Christ is Risen

Pastor’s Corner – Christ is Risen!

Back in college, there was a famous large rock on a prominent intersection.  This premiere location and the nature of college students led to “The Rock” being painted a minimum of once a week, but usually much more frequently.  The common joke to explain how such a large boulder ended up in this spot in the first place, was to say it used to be a small boulder but, it has been painted so much it has grown!

It was the goal of my college campus’ worshipping congregation to paint the rock once a year at Easter.  We would stay up until early in the morning on Easter Sunday just to make sure nobody came to paint after us. In years past, mischievous students would late change “He is risen” to (S)he is risen or “Christ” to Christy.  We would then fill The Rock with Christian symbols and decorations, but the prominent message was the simple phrase “Jesus is Risen”. After finishing such a task in the cover of night, we would steal a couple hours sleep and then wake up for our Easter Celebration!  The years I participated in this painting made Easter that much more special as I drove toward the church building and saw the wonderful message for all to see!

Since the very first Easter, the “early morning on the first day of the week” has held a very special place. In fact, that first Easter was so significant the Disciples didn’t waste any time commemorating it.  The very next week, on the first day of the week, the Disciples gathered again to commemorate what had happened the week before. This gathering in the morning on “the first day of the week” has continued. Every Sunday, which is the first day of the week, until this very Sunday, we gather to worship and commemorate the miracle that occurred some 2000 years ago.

The meeting and gathering of Jesus’ disciples, now called Christians, going to church may have adapted and modified over the years.  But, the resolve of God’s people to celebrate His resurrection and, as a result, our resurrection, has persevered. The gathering of God’s people has overcome persecution and massacres, wars and martyrdom. It has overcome floods, fires, earthquakes and more hardships than we could imagine.  God’s people have traversed around the globe and established new nations for freedom to gather and worship the resurrected savior! God’s people have gone into dangerous lands to share the good news and others have rebelled against their governments to worship Jesus.

This year, we are experiencing how God’s people refuse to stop worshipping our Savior.  In the face of yet another pandemic, (maybe not for us, but this certainly isn’t the first pandemic God’s people have overcome!), we continue to meet, worship and praise our resurrected King.  Jesus gives us the victory of the brokenness and hardships that this world provides.

This weekend, we hit the milestone of the yearly celebration of Easter. Every week is a “mini” Easter; every year is a huge celebration.  It isn’t going to look like it normally looks. In fact, this Easter, like every Sunday we gather has sadness and hardship looming over it. The beauty of Christ is that we know He has power over each and every hardship; we know He gives us the power over each and every hardship.  How do we know? Because Jesus IS Risen!

This weekend, we defy death and the grave; we defy sin and every evil; we defy this pandemic and its far-reaching ramifications.  This weekend, we celebrate the resurrection of our Lord, our Savior, our God and all the family of faith.

Easter isn’t special because of the things we do.  We do the things we do because Easter is special! So, even though we can’t do the things we are used to doing, Easter is no less amazing, no less wonderful, no less special or no less miraculous.  Every day, every breath is a gift from God that we are able to cherish and enjoy. That is my prayer and hope for each of you this Easter–that you would not let anything steal the joy that is ours in Christ and that you would find new ways to celebrate this very special God that we have! Alleluia!  Christ is Risen! He is Risen indeed!

In Christ,

Erik Gauss

Pastor’s Corner

5-stages-of-grief 2

Pastor’s Corner – Grieving Through Change

All change requires grieving. Grieving is the natural, normal and necessary process we go through when we adapt to change–ANY change. Sometimes, in the context of “upgrading” to something we want, the grieving process is quick and painless. Sometimes, when the change is unexpected and sudden it can be monumentally difficult. This Corner is meant for you to work through dealing with change, but also to give you tools to help others deal with their changes as well. An important saying to remember is “The only way out of grieving is through it.”

Grief is personal and real – your sense of change and loss is just as real as someone else’s. A common mistake is to not let yourself feel sad because someone else has it “worse.” This may be true on a macro level, but grief is naturally related to proximity of the loss. If a person you do not know dies in another town your grief is naturally less than if a close relative or friend were to die. It is important to validate your loss and the loss of others, including your children’s losses that may seem less significant in the grand scheme of things.

Elisabeth Kuebler-Ross suggested five stages of grief. These stages are described in order, but are by no means orderly. Denial is typically considered the “first stage” which might be true when you hear information about a “mega virus on the other side of the world.” But, If you’ve ever been in a car accident you know a common first response is anger. I am going to describe the stages below in an effort to help you identify them in yourself and others and to help others work through them.

Denial – This is the “I can’t believe it” stage. Let me start by saying denial is not bad; in fact, this is what allows us to process events that should be overwhelming in little, bite-sized chunks. Our body helps us deny portions of the information until a later time when we are more prepared to handle it.     Often, our first response on hearing news we didn’t experience first-hand is something along the lines of “no way!” But, denial can be more subtle. Denial can be excepting part of a truth, but not all of the truth: “the virus isn’t that bad” or “that our leaders are trying to control us”. Yes, denial can look like blaming others or creating conspiracy theories to avoid dealing with the full reality. Remember this comes out in bite sized chunks so don’t be surprised when you or others seem to start over in grieving. What this means is a new reality just sunk in. For example, “I know I’m not going back to school, but now I realized I’m not going to eat lunch with my friends.”

Anger- Anger is essential. Anger is the emotion that best expresses our sadness over the loss. It is important to “let it out.” It is also important that we let it out in as healthy a way as possible. Try not to take it out on someone else, although this is the most common way people deal with anger. Realize if someone is being rude to you for no good reason, this is probably why. Remember we are not against each other; your kids or spouses aren’t the problem (probably); we are battling together against the heartache we all are experiencing.

Bargaining – This one can be tricky because it looks different in a lot of people. But, basically this is any thought process or action that looks backwards and imagines it possible to be different. “If only” is a common way to start a bargaining statement.   “I wonder” might be another. Sometimes, we can bargain with God to change in the future if He changes something now. This could also be used to justify a risky behavior like going out unnecessarily since I’ll just do it “this once.”

Depression – This isn’t clinical depression, but rather it can be feelings of loneliness, isolation or malaise. Wish you could clean or exercise, but can’t bring yourself to do anything but stream Netflix? Again, this is ok; let yourself be sad. This is true grieving after we’ve dealt with being angry; or, maybe you never were angry and are just stuck here. Start small, a quick five minute walk around the block; a little sunlight; a small project. Call a friend or family member just to say hi. But, don’t forget it is ok and sometimes necessary to just eat some ice cream and take your mind off of things.

Acceptance- This is the ultimate goal of grief. Acceptance doesn’t mean we like the new reality better than the old reality. Acceptance is a fancy word to express that we have dealt with the change and are processing it in a way that lets us live out the new normal. Feelings of grief and other stages will still happen, but often we can work through them faster than before if we have worked our way to some form of acceptance.

Remember, each change and each aspect of change has to be grieved in its own way. Each time a new reality sinks in we must process that as well. If you have experienced a significant loss, it will take time for it to sink in because your body is protecting you with some denial. If you are very busy with the new reality it will also delay the grieving process. Typically, the hardest part of grieving is 4-6 months after the initial loss when your body relaxes into the new normal and then it starts to hit home. Don’t be surprised when this happens; instead if an old loss is hitting extra hard right now, look at the calendar and you will frequently see that time frame show up.

Even good changes need to be grieved. One of my favorite passages from scripture is the shortest verse in the bible, “Jesus wept” John 11:35–If you want to start memorizing scripture during your quarantine! But, the reason I love this verse is because God himself is grieving the death of His friend Lazarus. The perfect man Jesus, cried! Also, Jesus cried even though He knew he was about to raise Lazarus back to life! That means even when God is doing something good; it is okay and perfect to grieve the reality of change.   I hope this helps and gives you some great tools for yourself and those you minister to. Our faith helps us with grief and allows us to accept God is in control no matter what happens, but our faith should not be an excuse not to grieve. Grieving is necessary and good. It is the process of intentionally putting our hope in God who will not only lead us through the grief, but work good through it as well!

In Christ,

Erik Gauss

“In all this (God’s amazing promises) you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.” 1 Peter 1:6-7