Pastor’s Corner

Staffing Changes

There are a lot of them following this unprecedented year!

Thank You and Farewell

  • Mrs. Sonya Lutze has been an amazing fourth grade teacher at Cross for the past 17 years, making learning interactive through many fun and educational activities.  She has also overseen Cross Cares and directed various choirs.  Her husband’s new job for Menards takes her to the Omaha, Nebraska area where she will be much closer to all of her family. 
  • Mrs. Teri Wilger has spent 20 years as a dedicated classroom aide with a majority of those years spent in preschool classrooms.  She looks forward to spending more time with her three grown children and a soon-to-come grandbaby.  
  • Mrs. Lynn Torok has spent 13 years as a dedicated classroom aide with a majority of those years (but not exclusively) in kindergarten.  She has been taking classes to learn medical coding and looks forward to the chance for her work to be more mobile. 
  • Mrs. Mary Konrath has served as our Human Resources / Office Manager for 15 years after many years in the corporate arena.  She will be spending more time with her recently retired husband but not nearly as much time as she’ll be spending with her scrapbooking and Cricut machine!

We will be celebrating these wonderful women of God and their dedicated years of service on Sunday, June 6 at our 10 AM outdoor worship service. 


  • We welcome Mrs. Jan Kinsel onto our team as our Parish Nurse.  She will lead our efforts with the re-opening of local senior care centers and other human care ministries.  Jan completed her Director of Church Ministries degree in 2017 but has never been placed in a congregation.  We will ask the congregation to extend her a Divine Call at a special congregational meeting to be held Sunday, June 13 at 11 AM in the sanctuary.
  • Mr. Craig Mattes is a certified Director of Christian Outreach who recently launched his own business helping churches with social media and communications. 

There is more to come!

We are currently putting a Call/search committee together to identify a teacher for kindergarten and one for second grade for the 2021-22 school year.

Keep this team in your prayers as we keep you in ours!

“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you.”  Deuteronomy 31:6

In His service and yours,

Pastor Erik Gauss

Pastor’s Corner

Pentecost:  For All Nations

The recent Israeli-Palestine conflict has lasted for ten days.  The war has waged for millennia.  The worst part is that it is a glorified fight over an inheritance.  Granted, the inheritance is an eternal one, rooted in God’s plan of redemption for the world.  In other words, it is an important inheritance for all people for all eternity.  But, unfortunately, neither one of them will ever receive it.

The root cause is back in Genesis when Abraham (Abram at the time) and Sarah (Sarai at the time) doubted God’s promise to give them a son.  Instead of trusting and waiting, Abraham agreed to father a son named Ishmael with their servant, Hagar.  In Genesis 17, God said that this was not how His Covenant Promise would be fulfilled and restated His promise that they would have a son and this time said he would be named Isaac. 

When Isaac was born, Abraham sent Ishmael and Hagar away.  But Ishmael was circumcised, given the promise of God from Abraham, and God promised to bless Ishmael even though Ishmael wouldn’t receive the Covenant Promise. 

The Palestinian (Arab) people claim Ishmael as their ancestor.  The Jews claim Isaac as their ancestor.  Both claim the land of Abraham to be theirs and also claim their understanding of God to be the truth.  What does this mean for us as Christians?

Jesus is the fulfillment of the Covenant God made to Isaac.  Historically, Christians have sided with Jews because of this unity.  Christians after all are called the “New Israel,” adopted in through the waters of Baptism and the blood of Jesus.  While it is great to have this common ground, the true reality is that both Jews and Palestinians (Muslims) have rejected the true God.  Palestinians reject Him by denying Isaac is the son of the Covenant; Jews deny Him by saying Jesus isn’t the Son of God, the promised Messiah.

At Pentecost God gives the disciples the Holy Spirit so they can proclaim the Gospel in ALL languages to ALL people.  This is regardless of their ancestry or reputation.  The beauty is that, while the Holy Land is immeasurably meaningful to us as Christians, our hope isn’t in the land between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea.  Our hope is in the Savior who was born in that land, through the promise of God to the people.  Our inheritance is in the truly Holy Land of Heaven.  

We should not take sides in this battle for land any more than we should ever take sides when two people God loves are fighting.  Our role in warfare is to be the peacemaker who stands for truth.  Yes, sometimes standing for truth does require going to battle, but this should be a last resort.  When we are able to freely proclaim the Gospel, that is where our feet should remain firmly planted.  We are blessed to share the importance of forgiveness and unity in the work of Jesus Christ; this is the only thing that will ever finally end any conflict. 

At Pentecost we are reminded that our calling is to receive and share the Holy Spirit.  Our calling is not to defend a land or a church or a law.  When the Gospel is proclaimed, then and only then are people changed.  When the Gospel is believed in a land, any land, then that Land and its people are in fact Holy.

“… if My people who are called by My name humble themselves, and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”  2 Chronicles 7:14

Pastor’s Corner

Ascension (Another 40 Days)

Jesus had two 40 day long events bookend His ministry on Earth.  The first and most remembered are the 40 days in the wilderness where He was tempted by Satan.  These 40 days are the inspiration for Lent.  Believers are encouraged to give up an earthly temptation (meat, chocolate, alcohol, etc.) for the same time period in order to better focus on God’s Word and promises.  

The second 40 days occurred at the end of Jesus’ ministry and comprised the time between Jesus’ resurrection and His ascension into Heaven.  This Sunday we will celebrate Ascension Day (even though it was officially Thursday, May 13).  Ascension officially concludes the earthly ministry and presence of Jesus.  It also marks a crucial reality.

This second 40 days is arguably the most important 40 days in human history, yet we often forget about them.  Ascension frequently passes without even a mention in most Christian churches today.  Why is this?  In the wilderness, Jesus was tempted.  Every single one of us humans can relate to temptation.  We live with and give in to temptation every single day.  If we are truly blessed we might even battle against temptation from time to time.  On the other hand, very few of us can relate to rising from the dead, walking the earth for six weeks and then floating into Heaven on a cloud while still alive. 

For the 11 disciples and all the followers of Jesus, the second 40 days formed the foundation on which we all stand.  During these pivotal days, the disciples asked this question of Jesus many times:  “Lord, has the time come for You to free Israel and restore our kingdom?”

For 40 days they asked and asked and asked Jesus if He was going to finally raise Israel to its proper place of glory and power above all other earthly nations.  For those 40 days the disciples relentlessly wrestled with the reality that the people who killed Jesus were going to get away with it.  Jesus didn’t come to get revenge on unbelievers, murderers, or misguided Jews.  Jesus came to restore these people into a relationship with their God, their God who created them and still loved them. 

The disciples looked their enemies in the face; they stared down their own blood relatives and yearned for all that was wrong to be made right.  Jesus’ reply to all this?  He ascended into Heaven. 

Jesus took those last 40 days to transfer His mission to His followers.  This wasn’t about some supernatural power grab.  God didn’t come to Earth to grab the reigns of the universe; He has never let go!  Jesus came down to remind us it isn’t about what is seen; it is about what remains unseen. 

Jesus did restore the Kingdom of God.  He did it on the cross by paying for our sins.  Jesus did restore the Kingdom of God by sending His people to be His representatives to all people.  Just like the Jews (Hebrews) had done throughout the Old Testament, now all the baptized (adopted) children of God are sent to the ends of the world.  

These second 40 days could go unnoticed, but they shouldn’t.  Just as Lent teaches us we are continuously tempted, these second 40 days teach us we continually have the power of God as our fingertips.  We have the power to love sacrificially, forgive graciously, give generously and live abundantly.  God has transferred the responsibility and the power to proclaim His Kingdom to His children, every single one of them.  

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you.  And you will be My witnesses, telling people about Me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”  Acts 1:8

In Christ,

Pastor Erik Gauss

Pastor’s Corner

Pastor’s Corner – Appreciation

This week is traditionally Teacher Appreciation Week.  So, let’s start there.  Last summer, in the height of the pandemic Principal Paul and I had some difficult decisions to make.   When we approached the school staff about meeting in-person or online or hybrid learning for the fall, EVERY ONE of them agreed the students needed to be together, every day, by any means necessary, if at all possible.  

It may seem like a small thing, but in reality it is an immeasurable thing.  Our staff has just as many opinions and viewpoints as any group of people, but they chose to find unity in serving our students and families even with their own health risks and countless other unknowns.   This unity allowed Paul and I and our leadership to focus on a plan to move forward knowing we had the full support of our team.   That hasn’t wavered—even once.    

EVERY ONE of them has worn a mask every day, whether they agreed with it or not.  EVERY ONE of them has completely overhauled how they teach to adapt to the State mandates, EVERY ONE of them has taught their lessons in person and electronically and often at the same time! EVERY ONE of them has been prepared, all year long, to teach from home at the drop of a hat.  EVERY ONE of them has rallied for the sake of their students, families and as a representative of their Lord.  I couldn’t have more appreciation for any group of people.

But, we couldn’t do it without our families.  This week our families have celebrated our teachers like no other time in history.   Our families have supported and persevered through all of the rules, policies and ever-changing guidelines.  Throughout it all our families chose to appreciate that we were trying to stay open every day and provide normalcy in a great Christ centered educational environment. 

Our church staff gives great effort to resource and support our school ministry as a unified congregation.  As our school had to literally spread out to every corner of this facility, our church staff stepped up and relocated or eliminated any obstacles that stood in the school’s way.   They have remained flexible and changed on a moment’s notice to provide chapels, virtual solutions and adapting in countless ways that are unsung and frequently unknown because they do it without complaint.   

None of us have been perfect, not even close.  But we have all—teachers, families and staff, chosen to remain humble in our failures and have extended forgiveness and grace to one another.   In times of great stress, true character is often revealed.  I could not be prouder and more humbled by this amazing community of faith.  Thank you, we appreciate you and I am overjoyed that we have been able to celebrate together this week.   I believe it is a true celebration of how Paul encourages the church to be with one another.

“Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind.  Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.”  Philippians 2:1-4

In Christ,

Erik Gauss