Pastor’s Corner

re-opening square grunge stamp

Pastor’s Corner – Re-Opening!

Did I catch your attention with that title or what?  It seems like everything is reopening now and it is very exciting; it is also very nerve wracking.  Just because places are reopening, doesn’t mean the virus isn’t an issue. In fact, the virus is a bigger issue now, in Kendall County, than it was when we were issued the Stay-at-Home Order.  On March 13th, there was one known case in Kendall.  Now there are nearly 400 active cases, with nearly 400 in recovery.

I, too, am very excited about reopening, but we will do so with great intentionality and with safety as a major aspect of our every decision.  Our first step in reopening will be next weekend on June 7th at 1:0 PM.  We had already planned on hosting a communion service and we will continue with that plan. We have over 250 people registered to come receive the Lord’s body and blood or a blessing and I do not want to change that plan.  Trying to add on-site worship to the communion weekend would be a tremendous challenge and ultimately reduce our ability to provide a safe experience.

Sunday, June 14th, we are working toward being able to host a small number of people on-site.  We had already been working toward this on our own, but yesterday (Thursday) the Governor of Illinois finally published guidelines for worship centers.  This is a minor miracle in itself.  Under those guidelines, the recommended worship size is 25% of capacity or 100 people, whichever is fewer.  Currently our plan involves hosting about 70 people per service which is right in that range.  We are still developing a process for registration/reservations.

There are many factors to consider, the most daunting of which is to sanitize our entire sanctuary between services and keep surfaces as untouched as possible.  We will be recruiting teams of volunteers to help sanitize on Sunday mornings and to help hold doors and direct traffic to minimize surface contamination and traffic jams in the hallways.

Sunday mornings will not be like they used to be–there will be no donuts or coffee, there will be no Sunday school or nursery, there will be no Community Groups or Bible studies on site.  There will be no Fellowship Hall to hang out in and no hallways to run through.  It will feel very different as we wear masks and refrain from breaking social distancing recommendations. But, the church has not changed her mission.

As the people of God, we will continue to mourn our inability to gather together in the way we ultimately desire.  We look forward to the day when we will be able to do so once again.  But, until that day, we are reminded that we are the Church on Mission.  God has sent us to “the ends of the earth” to be His witness for all people.  The Church of God, whether in the Old Testament or New Testament, always struggled when it was scattered by an enemy. But, it was these times of scattering that often proved to be its finest moment as it adapted and shared the Good News of Jesus in new places.

As your leadership, we will continue to work tirelessly (or more accurately, continue to work even while we are exhausted!) to create the safest way we can worship and gather together. And, at the same time, we will encourage and equip one another to be the presence of Jesus right where we are, in places we never wanted to be, but places where God needed us to go!

In Christ,

Erik Gauss

Pastor’s Corner

Memorial Day

Pastor’s Corner – Memorial Day

Memorial Day weekend has snuck up on us, but it is here and worthy of celebration.   With the stay at home order transitioning to phase three soon and many schools finishing up their online learning last week, I anticipate much rejoicing.  This traditional weekend of revelry comes at just the right time.  We need it.

Memorial Day is a day worthy of celebration, even as the joy is built on the memory of events that brought much sorrow.  The greatest celebrations don’t usually come when things are consistently good; the greatest celebrations come after a time of sorrow comes to an end.  These times of heartache refine us and cause us to appreciate the things we previously took for granted.

On Memorial Day, we remember and celebrate the freedoms that were won for us through the precious blood of our military.  Our freedom is something we often take for granted; not because we don’t appreciate them, but because we are so used to them.  When our freedoms are taken away, like they have been for the past couple months, we start to appreciate them more.

These past couple months have grown within me an appreciation for a lot of different things.  I appreciate my family and the increased time with them. I appreciate the freedoms that we have in this country, especially as I desire all the things we have not been able to do.  I also appreciate the relationships that I miss from our gatherings on Sunday mornings and our ongoing ministry throughout the week.  You have been able to see me through the on-line streaming, but I can’t see you!  I look forward to seeing many of your faces at our communion service on Sunday, June 7th.

I appreciate our team of volunteers and staff at Cross who have endured and succeeded at bringing a school year to a close and transitioning to online ministry throughout the week.  I appreciate the many notes of encouragement that have come through the mail, the phones and other various means.  In these times of uncertainty, you all have been a light into my days.

This Memorial Day weekend I plan to celebrate you all and especially our military who have paid the greatest price so that I could have all these things to miss!  It is only because we are so blessed in this country that the loss of freedoms is so hard.  So, celebrate life and freedom–it is God’s way.  Do it wisely, as we steward the life God has given to us, trusting in Him and loving our neighbor.  After all, that has never changed.  I pray, we just appreciate it more now than ever before and that in itself, is worthy of celebration.

Jesus said, “the thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” John 10:10


Pastor’s Corner


Pastor’s Corner – “I Have the Right To Do Anything….”

“I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but I will not be mastered by anything. 1 Corinthians 6:12. This is how the NIV translates Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians. Our nation is built on the foundation that each human has rights that are given to us by our Creator and cannot/shall not be taken away from us. This week, the importance of our individual and societal rights came to the surface as many States “opened” under pressure from its citizens, as the Wisconsin Supreme Court ended the Safer-at-Home Order and, as our own Kendall County Sheriff reminded us all that our Governor cannot make laws and cannot take away our rights through a simple executive order. For this, we should all be celebrating–that we have the right to use our minds, gather information and make wise decisions.

At the same time, the verse continues that not all things are beneficial. Just because we have the right to live our life how we want, doesn’t mean we should. When we act out of our own desire and do not take into consideration the needs of others, our Government leaders are there to guide society to be beneficial for all. These two issues are always in tension: our own rights and the rights of others.

How does Jesus teach us to resolve this tension? We can’t fully resolve it, but we do have a biblical framework we can apply to each decision and circumstance in which we find ourselves. In John 13:35, Jesus is recorded as saying that the world will know His followers by our love. Love is the framework for our coming, our going and our tension resolving. How does love apply to our rights and especially our current stay-at-home mandate? Well, it applies as you put it in the context of your own circumstances. But, love is defined in scripture as this, again from Jesus, “Greater love has no man than this, than to lay down his life for a friend” John 15:13.

As we look to our right to assemble, our right to travel freely, visit friends and even our free economy, we need to also weigh the well-being of those around us. These are not opposing issues because there is an immeasurable difference between somebody requiring you do something sacrificial and you choosing to do so. If someone forces us to lay down our life, it is murder or abuse. If we choose to lay down our life, it is love. The results are the exact same; but the way we get there is very different.

As people and organizations are rightly defending our freedom to worship, hold weddings and the like, we must also consider the realities that these gatherings still spread a dangerous, unknown and untreatable virus. As a believer, it is good that we are not afraid to gather and face these realities and yet we don’t get to choose who else we may get sick in the process. We must consider not only our freedom, but the impact of exercising our freedom on all we encounter. The CEO’s of Rush Copley and Mercy both said they saw spikes in cases after Easter when families gathered to celebrate. Eleven new cases were immediately connected to just two family gatherings. This is not to spread fear, but to show that our decisions and our attentiveness make a difference.

How will we continue to move forward at Cross? Just as we have been. We will be intentional and work together with local officials including the Sheriff’s department, the health department, our church body leaders here and in other States and many other people, to find solutions that allow us to exercise our faith and lovingly share that faith with others.   As the school year winds down, our energy has been on celebrating our teachers and our students. We have been praying and planning about what the next “Phase” looks like. We will share more at our Congregational Zoom meeting on May 31st. We will implement safety protocols to be able to celebrate the Lord’s Supper together on June 7th. We will continue to explore safe ways to gather together in Worship and above all we will honor our Lord by being a powerful witness for Him in the community. Stay vigilant; pray for our leaders, especially in Kendall County as case numbers continue to rise. And, ask the questions differently; ask God how and to whom you can be a blessing while we seek to be blessed by Him.

In Christ,

Erik Gauss

Pastor’s Corner


Pastor’s Corner – Thank God for Mom

This weekend is Mother’s Day, believe it or not.  My personal sense of time is completely off kilter these days, but my appreciation for Mom has never been greater. The only thing more difficult than being a mom is being a mom during a Stay-at-Home Order.  I never would have known that was even possible until now–so thank you 2020.  And thank you moms everywhere.

This weekend, we will attempt to celebrate mom and women in mom-like roles everywhere.  We will do it in spite of the restrictions put upon us because, after all, moms need to be celebrated.  A mom or mother figure is a mentor and a support for her children and a partner to her husband.  A mom has an impossible task of keeping the family functioning and often sacrifices her own desires to make that possible.  Mom always tries to set good boundaries for her children, but also attempts to not be too heavy handed.

Even if you do not know your mother our natural instinct is to fill that void with a mentor who will love us like a mother.  If you are not a mother, it is common to love other children as if they were your own.  A mother is a gift from God and is a need that cannot be replaced by anything else. We never outgrow our moms and you never outgrow being a mother.

Nobody has a perfect mom and nobody is a perfect mom, at least not of our own worldly efforts.  But, by the grace of God, any mistakes a parent will make, any division between parents and children can and will be healed as we confess and forgive.  This is my lesson from many moms I have interacted with over the years.  My mom, the mother of my children, my sisters, mother-in-law and many others have shown me that moms take the cake when it comes to showing God’s patience and love with others.  Even on their worst days, a mother’s love is on full display.

So, celebrate mom in your own special way this year.  But, one thing should never change; thank God for your mom, give yourself grace if you are a mom, and even if you have never been a mom, remember you are still being used by God to show His divine love to others in a very special way.  Take it from Jesus when he tells us that mothers, brothers and sisters are defined more by the love they show one another than any biological status (Matthew 12:46-50).

To my Mom, Grand-Moms, Sisters (who definitely “mommed” me), Mother-in-law and of course my Bride, Alicia, the mother of our three moms-in-training — I thank God for you each day and am truly amazed how great you are and have been at loving me and teaching me how to love more like Christ every day.

For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him…”  Ephesians 1:15-17

In Christ,

Erik Gauss

Pastor’s Corner

40 days 2

Pastor’s Corner – Congratulations!

Congratulations are in order. We have made it through a very significant time period of humanity with regards to this pandemic. That is right! We have officially made it to 40 days and nights of the “Stay-at-Home” order in Illinois. Forty is an exceptionally significant number for biblical events and for the human mental-emotional-spiritual state.   The most widely known 40-day period is the season of Lent leading up to Easter. This 40 days, however well known, is not actually biblical. It is based on other significant biblical events that all lasted 40 days.

Lent is most closely connected to Jesus fasting for 40 days in the wilderness prior to the start of His public ministry. Forty days and nights is also the length of time it rained on the earth during the flood of Noah. Moses fasted for 40 days prior to receiving the Law and spent 40 days on Mount Sinai receiving the Law from God (We’ll get back to this later,) As a baby, Jesus was presented at the temple 40 days after his birth and He ascended into heaven 40 days after his resurrection.

This is just a sampling of the 40-day events in scripture; there are more, and this doesn’t include the events that took 40 weeks or 40 years. You/we have made it to a significant milestone and a celebration is in order! Congratulations, so far, and may God be with us as we endure and overcome this pandemic together.

What is next? Well, in order to look ahead we need to be real with where we are. Remember, I said we would get back to Moses’ trip up Mt. Sinai to get the Ten Commandments from God. Well, during the 40 days Moses was up there, the Israelites got restless. They were tired of waiting and, instead of turning to God, they turned to their own devices. They made statues to worship and threw wild “worship” parties to their false Gods. Moses was with God and knew what was happening. The time flew by, the people were waiting, lost their focus and put their hope in things more visible.

Forty days is a significant period of time where our minds wander and our flesh gives way even though our Spirit is willing. That might be where you are. Maybe, 40 Days has been enough already. If so, you are in good company. Maybe, this 40 Days has been great for refining your faith. If so, praise God for His mercy. Regardless, celebrate and praise God that you have endured and that He has been with you.

As we look forward to the next 40 days, hear these words that God gave to Moses as he came down from the mountain after those 40 days. “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest” Genesis 33:14. The Presence of God is with us. As we are tempted to turn our focus to things more visible, remember the only one that gives true peace is with you. Turn your eyes toward Jesus and His presence will be felt and He will give you peace.

In Christ,

Erik Gauss