Pastor’s Corner

Pastor’s Corner – Summer is Here!

I know the official start of summer isn’t until the end of May.  I also know school at Cross doesn’t get out until early June, but why not get started now on the fun-loving season of summer?  Last summer, in response to the pandemic, we started outdoor worship services.  These were a huge hit!  We are bringing back our outdoor worship services starting now!

Beginning Sunday, May 2 (this weekend), all our worship services will be outdoors.  The outdoor worship services will be held at the same times as our indoor services with Traditional being held at 8:00 AM and Contemporary being held at 10:00 AM.  The outdoor services will happen on the first and third Sundays of each month.  

The outdoor services have been our highest attended services throughout the pandemic and we anticipate it to be the same way this summer as well.  Outdoor services are fun and safe and a great way to reconnect with God and with the people of God at Cross.  We look forward to seeing you and your family as we Walk with God in Worship this Summer. 

Here are a few tips to make the outdoor worship experience the best it can be.  

  • Download the “hiscross” app onto your smart device before you arrive for easy access to the worship folders. Links are also provided below.
  • Bring your own chair, drinks, etc.  Remember, we have a pavilion now but you will still need your own seat.
  • Enter the parking lot off Ament Road—parking is in the Upper Lot. There is limited parking available in the lower lot to accommodate those with special needs or people who will remain in their vehicle throughout worship.
  • Upon entry, there will be a table for communion supplies.  If you are communing, please keep these with you until we commune together as a family of faith.
  • Restrooms are available through the West Lobby (Office) Entrance.  
  • You are invited to remain after service and reconnect with each other. 
  • It works best to exit the parking lot onto Route 47 near the Youth Center, especially as people start arriving for the next service and the welcome tables are still set up.
  • If the weather dictates, we will move indoors into our Sanctuary and use our Large Gym for overflow space.  

We look forward to seeing you at Cross for our outdoor services. Praying for good weather and great fellowship. 

“And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.”  Hebrews 10:25

In Christ,

Erik Gauss

Pastor’s Corner

Pastor’s Corner – May(hem)

May is fast approaching and life around here at Cross always gets pretty exciting with the school year coming to a close and our congregation ministries transitioning to our summer schedules.   This year, we are adding the excitement of rebooting life and ministry as a worldwide pandemic refuses to ride off into the night.   

I wanted to take a few moments and share where we are headed as a congregation.   I couldn’t be more proud of how we have worked together over the last year to rise above this pandemic and make Gospel proclamation the most important thing.  We didn’t get caught up in bitter politics and divisive language; it wasn’t easy!  Instead each of you chose to make the best of a horrible situation and move forward with Christ as our leader.

As a staff and as volunteer leaders, we are looking to continue to do more of the same by focusing on the Gospel and putting aside divisiveness.   Kendall County is among the highest percent of vaccinated counties in the state.  As of this writing 97% of all people over age 65 have received their first shot and 47% of people 16-64 years old have as well!  This means, we are well under way to reaching the vaccination rate that our state leadership says we need to move to Phase 5 (70% of seniors and 50% of people age 16-64).

Mask wearing has always been about slowing the spread of the virus and loving your neighbor.  These things are still extremely important.   In situations where people are in close proximity for long periods of time and risk of transmission is high, we still strongly encourage and will continue to require mask wearing.  Examples of this would be in our school, in our Wednesday night ministries and when gathered inside socializing.   

At the same time, we have modified our Sunday morning worship to greatly reduce the risk of transmission.  We have roped off every other row, we do not get up and move for the offering or communion.  We do not have donuts and coffee for socializing and we have a maximum capacity in a large, high ceiling room.  Because of all the reasons stated in this letter, I believe it is once again reasonably safe to allow people to attend our worship services without the requirement of wearing a mask.  The benefit of offering mask optional, indoor worship is greater than requiring masks for all. 

Beginning in May, our 1st and 3rd Sunday worship services will be with communion and remain outdoors, weather permitting.  The 2nd, 4th and 5th Sundays will be indoors where all worship services will be mask-optional.  We will continue to encourage social distancing by “family” and rope off every other row.  The Fellowship Hall and the large gymnasium will serve as overflow.  

We have done a tremendous job of supporting one another throughout this pandemic and I pray we continue to do so.  Many people will still wear masks and many will not; these decisions are deeply personal.  It just so happens, we can see each other’s decisions in plain sight.  Some of our people have chosen to wear only the best masks from the very beginning, others have chosen to remain out of the public as much as possible to avoid wearing masks.   Wearing or not wearing a mask does not make a person any more or any less of a Christian or any more or any less trusting in God.   

My desire, in making this decision now, is the same as it has always been with every decision.  We want to honor our leaders at the local, state and federal levels.  We also need to implement those guidelines in the way we think is best for our people and circumstances.  We have people who have not been inside the sanctuary for over a year as they wait to be able to worship without a mask.  Others have attended every week and worn a mask even though they didn’t agree.  I believe it is now the time to move forward on this guideline to once again welcome back another group of people to Cross that we have been missing.   

These are difficult times; there is limited and conflicting information everywhere you look.  The Devil is actively trying to distract us from the Mission of God; we will not let him win.  We have prayed and researched and monitored and waited for the best times to make the best decisions.  Everyone has not always agreed, but your support and love for one another has always won out.  I look forward to praying and listening to each of you as you work through these challenging times and, as it has been with any decision this year, some will cheer and some will disagree.  I pray we continue to take the time to learn how each of us is different and also united together for the sake of the Gospel.  

Thank you all for your partnership in the Gospel and thank you all for your graciousness.  This has been and remains a tremendously challenging time to lead; it seems as if there are no “right answers”.  In times of intense and difficult decision making I rely heavily on God’s teaching in Romans 12:1–that, as we selflessly worship God with our whole life, He gives us the ability to discern His good and gracious will.  And, Romans 8:28 assures me that when I fail to properly discern His will, He is still actively working good even through my poor decisions, for the good of those who love Him.  Praise God that He is good, gracious and merciful!

In Christ, 

Erik Gauss

Pastor’s Corner

Pastor’s Corner – How Do I find Peace?!?

When Jesus appears to His disciples after His resurrection in Luke 24, He proclaims, “Peace be with you.”   After this greeting, the scripture says the disciples responded by being startled and frightened.   This. Is. Perfect.

Over the years of reading scripture, I have often thought about why Jesus says peace be with you.  This is a similar situation in my mind about why angels always say “Do not be afraid” when they show up on the scene.  As humans, we are relatively comfortable with the physical world.  We interact and observe the physical realm every hour of every day.  As human beings, we are also naturally afraid of the unknown.  When the spiritual realm invades the physical realm this can be very frightening. 

I don’t think that is what is happening here.

Well, of course it is what is happening here, but I don’t think it is the only reason Jesus is offering them peace.  In the Gospel of John, we read the disciples were gathered in this room, behind locked doors because they were already afraid.   The disciples were already afraid of the physical world they were experiencing.  Jesus had been murdered; were they next?

When Jesus shows up on the scene, He offers peace.   Of course it is a word of encouragement because anyone witnessing a dead man, who was now alive, would need some reassuring.  But this peace reminds me of the same peace Jesus offered these same disciples in John 14.  The disciples and Jesus were gathered in the upper room around the events of the Passover supper when Jesus teaches them about His Father’s house with many rooms.  How Jesus was going to leave them and prepare a place for them and then return for them.   Jesus declares “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” 

Then, Jesus offers the disciples peace in Verse 27.   This peace, Jesus says is not like the world gives so “do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”  The imagery of this is glorious.  John 14 is the last night Jesus would be with them until He rises again.   Compare this to the fear and trembling of the disciples the next time Jesus is with them.  He gives them the same peace while they are hiding, afraid of the world, just like He encouraged them not to be.

How many times has my life been the exact opposite of how God wants it to be?  How many times have I ignored Jesus and trusted my flesh instead?  I love this image of the disciples huddled in a locked room afraid and Jesus says “Peace” and they freak out.  They knew already in their minds what they were going to do if this ghost, that looked like Jesus, made a peep.  Instead, Jesus encouraged them to find peace, not in the world or in their gut or in a reasonable solution.  But instead, to have peace from Him.

Peace in the midst of our fear. Peace because of our fear.  Peace that comes from knowing Jesus.  Peace from knowing that in Jesus all things are possible.  Peace from trusting that even if we die, we still have Peace and Joy forever with Him.   No, it is nothing like the world gives, and for that I am truly Thankful!

Christ is Risen!

Erik Gauss

Pastor’s Corner

Pastor’s Corner – Reboot

Every once in a while, at completely unpredictable moments, our clothes dryer will refuse to turn on.  There is no rhyme or reason to it; it has been happening for years.  I’ve researched it and the best I can determine is it will either do this forever or one day it will die completely.  No one seems to know.  It can be very frustrating when technology refuses to work, especially for no good reason. 

I imagine you are wondering why we still have the dryer.  As completely frustrating as it is when it chooses not to work, the solution is relatively simple; unplug it, and plug it back in.  Sure it is a hassle, but this simple solution works for many electronic devices.  A simple reboot of the system, a fresh start if you will, is all that is needed to get things back on track. 

You may be able to relate to this.  This last year, a lot of things have been turned off in our life and right now we are trying to get them all started again.  In fact, the biggest temptation in front of most of us is to try to make up for lost time.  We are eager to quickly fill our schedules to overflowing.  We are tired of being locked up and we have a whole year of life to try to make up.

We have each been given an opportunity to refill our lives with the things that matter most.  Have you seen the famous illustration about how to fill a jar with all different sizes of rocks and sand?  If you start with the big rocks and finish with the sand, you can fit significantly more into your jar.  If you start with the sand, you will never fit in the big rocks.

As we come out of COVID we would all be wise to ask ourselves what are the big rocks in our life?  If we identify those and fill in around them our life will be filled with both peace and joy.  If we start filling it in with sand, it will be fun for a while, but we will once again find ourselves in distress.

Over the next six weeks, we will be looking at how the disciples relaunched their lives after Jesus’ death and resurrection.  Their intentional focus on Jesus’ teaching, as well as trusting the power of the Holy Spirit, gave them a powerful and deep sense of purpose and unity among the believers.  Their faith “reboot” was an inspiration to the world around them and led to a global transformation.  It wasn’t easy, but the eternal impact made it all worthwhile.

What does it look like for us to do the same?  How can we reboot our lives and find that same deep sense of meaning and purpose?  It will be a challenge to overcome the temptation to fill the void of the last year with earthy pleasures.   It will be rewarding both now and eternally to refill our lives with the things that truly matter most.  Let’s focus on God’s will and word and then put it into practice.  You might just be filled with both peace and joy.

“And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles.”  Acts 2:42-43

In Christ,

Erik Gauss

Pastor’s Corner

Pastor’s Corner – A Celebration of Love

“Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.”  John 15:13

The Book of John in the New Testament, also called the Gospel (Good News) of John, is known for its talk about love. Arguably, the most famous Bible passage in the world comes from this book and talks about love.  “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”  John 3:16.   John writes in another of his books that God himself is best defined by that same simple word, “God is Love.” 1 John 4:8 

The word love is translated 39 times in the book of John.  Second place in the New Testament is another book by the same author called 1(first) John; it uses the word love 26 times.  Third place is the book of Romans with only 16 mentions.   The Old Testament book of love, also known as Song of Solomon, known for its racy and erotic story of lovers, only uses the word love 37 times! 

The Book of John was written by Jesus’ disciple of the same name for the purpose of sharing Jesus’ life and ministry with non-Jews—outsiders.  In other words, John leans heavy into the Love of God to encourage people far from God that He cares about them.  John believes it is this radical, and often times controversial, word that would transform hearts and minds from unbelief to belief.  

The other three Gospels (Matthew, Mark and Luke) only use the word love 27 times as they rely more on the work of Jesus as a fulfillment of prophecy.   These three Gospels were written primarily to Jews and people who already knew God.  The goal was to prove how Jesus was, in fact, the one God had sent to save the world.  But, John wrote many decades later and realized the world needed healing that only God could provide.

I have often thought about the church today and our interactions with the world.  We often think we are a “Christian nation” and that leads us to interact with other people who we think already know Jesus/God loves them.  I don’t believe we have been a truly Christian nation for several generations now.  When I say this, I believe the best way to describe it is to say we are not a nation that loves God with all our heart because He first loved us. 

I love Easter because it reminds us what love truly is.  Love isn’t giving something to someone we love.  Love isn’t doing something kind to someone we like.  Love isn’t finding mutual benefit in one another.  Love is sacrificing what is good for me for the sake of someone else experiencing what is good for them.  Jesus didn’t die because it was mutually beneficial.  Jesus died because we needed Him to.  He died on a cross and experienced public shame because, without it, we are all damned to Hell. 

God is Love.  He laid down His life for us, while we still hated Him.  Even knowing we would continue regularly accuses God of not doing His job.  He knew that is how we would respond and still chose to die.  God didn’t want us to die an eternal death.  God did not want our physical death to be the end so He did what He is.  God is love and love is laying down your life for another; for a friend (John 15:13) and for your enemies (Matthew 5:44). 

I firmly believe that what our hurting world needs now isn’t an explanation of who Jesus is, but a real life example.  I believe the world needs to be shown by the church, the body of Christ on earth, that we are love.   This doesn’t happen at an organizational level (usually).  Rather, it happens (mostly) on an individual level.  It happens with how we treat every person we come in contact with.  It doesn’t happen when we give someone everything they want, but it does happen when we sacrifice what we want for the sake of what God wants for another person.

This Easter I pray that you know God’s love again; His reckless, indescribable, unconditional, practically-unbelievable love.  And, knowing that love encourages and inspires you to see the world, especially those far from God, with the same heart our God sees them.  That we might be the children of God who live out our identity and be His reckless, indescribable, unconditional, practically-unbelievable love to the world.

In Christ,

Erik Gauss