Pastor’s Corner

Merry Christmas!

Miraculously, my heart and mind are filled with gratitude this Christmas.  It wasn’t always that way this year.  No, at the beginning of the year I was grateful that COVID was winding down, confident that we would have a more typical summer, and that this 2021-2022 school year would be significantly better COVID-wise than the previous year.  I too, like many of you, have been filled with disappointment this year, but that has changed.

I can’t say what exactly turned the page for me, but it was sometime during this fall while I was praying and reading Scripture.  That is how I know it was from God, because my heart would not have changed on its own.  I was tired and frustrated like everyone else.  Then God put a perspective on my heart, a perspective that allowed me to see what He sees and hear what He hears:  the frustrations, the heartache, the need for this broken world to have a healing Savior.  That’s when it hit me. 

No, I didn’t think I needed to die like Jesus to save the world.  But I did need to remember that Jesus already died and already saved this world.  I did need to die to my selfish thoughts and selfish desires to see the bigger picture. 

The very thing this world needs, the very thing I needed, we already have.  My heartache, my frustration, my anger and exhaustion, the stress I was feeling – it was all the work of the devil.  This is the same work he has been doing since the beginning of time when he convinced Adam and Eve they needed more than a perfect world without evil.  The devil and our flesh cause us humans to feel emptiness when, in fact, we are blessed beyond all measure. 

I am blessed to be on this journey with you.  I am blessed to be a part of a community that values the Word of God and living out that Word of God in the world.  I am blessed to have a Savior that promises me strength and endurance even when I grow faint or weary or frustrated.  He lifts me up like on the wings of an eagle.

You could look at the world right now and grieve.  You can feel loss and grow anxious, but we don’t need to remain feeling that way.  Our God sees what we see and sent His Son so that we can find hope and strength and joy in Him!  As I look around now, instead of seeing brokenness, I see hope.  I see an opportunity for the love of God to make a world changing difference in the lives of the people around me. 

We have the Light of the world, the Prince of peace, a wonderful Counselor and a mighty God.  That sure sounds like a lot of things the world is looking for.  Things I was longing for.  Things we already have.

May the presence of Christ in your life bring that transformation for you as well.  I pray this Christmas we rally together as a church around the manger and bring hope to one another.  Then, working together to be the light in the darkness and to bring joy to the world!

Have a merry Christmas and a blessed new year!

Pastor Erik Gauss

Pastor’s Corner

Christmas Obligations

Obligations.  I will not ask you to say them out loud nor will I tell you mine specifically, but we all have obligations at Christmastime.  Christmas can be a season of great inspiration where we are able to be generous.  It can also be a season of expectations to be generous in ways we don’t desire.  On occasion, the obligations of the season are able to rob us of the joy we ought to experience at such a meaningful time.  

If you find yourself flush with obligations, you may be able to relate to the reading from Hebrews 10:5-6 this weekend:  “Sacrifice and offering you did not desire… with burnt offerings and sin offerings you were not pleased.”  For thousands of years and hundreds of generations the people of God made required sacrifices and offerings at the temple.  The people of God would travel across the known world multiple times of year to fulfill these obligations of faith.  

I am certain that the people of faith would regularly fulfill the expectations of God out of a spirit of sincere gratitude.  I am also quite certain that at times, the faithful people of God had no desire to drop everything and make yet another expensive trip and offer pricey sacrifices to their God.  No matter how faithful a person, occasionally life gets in the way.

“It is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins”  Hebrews 10:4.  The obligation to pilgrimage to the temple and make sacrificial atonement for their sins didn’t work?!?  It was commanded in Scripture, written in the laws, required by the spiritual leaders, but it doesn’t do anything.  Why would God say the very laws He required didn’t accomplish anything? 

It isn’t the act of sacrifice that makes us holy; holiness is from our faith in the one sacrifice that grants us forgiveness.  

God loves us so much that He sacrificed His perfect Son to be our Savior.  That sacrifice is what takes away our sin.  The sacrifices we make are for the benefit of others around us and for the strengthening of our own faith.  When we give a sacrificial offering to God’s Church, it doesn’t make us a good person.  But it does bless the ministry of God’s Kingdom work on earth, and it keeps God’s provision in our lives at the front of our own heart and mind.

On the other hand, doing something with the wrong heart and attitude without an openness to what God might be doing through it doesn’t make us better.  We aren’t a better employee, neighbor, family member or church participant because we fulfill our obligation.  But when we prayerfully join in what God is trying to do, He makes it a blessing for all. 

When we drop our own plans and bless a neighbor in need, it doesn’t make us holy, but it serves our neighbor and gives us a better perspective of what is truly important.  When we fulfill our “obligations” to work or family or whatever is pulling at us this busy season, we are part of bringing joy to others and maybe, just maybe, we find joy ourselves.  When we join our hearts with God’s heart, it is impossible to know what amazing things God will accomplish in us and through us.

Try something this Christmas season.  Try lifting up your gift giving, your schedule, and all your obligations this year to the Lord in prayer.  Check your heart and mind, and if the Lord doesn’t compel you to fulfill that obligation this year, respectfully decline.  But if He does put it on your heart to participate, then do so with a joyful heart and see what He does through it.  It will transform your Christmas season and will keep your Savior, Jesus, at the center of it all.

“We have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once and for all.”  Hebrews 10:10

His servant and yours,

Pastor Erik Gauss

Pastor’s Corner

It’s All About the Eyes

Christmas movies are one of the great traditions of the season.  These cinematic tales run the gamut, such as cheesy action packed (that is, if you are willing to count Die Hard as a Christmas movie, but I digress).  With so many Christmas movies and so little time at Christmas, how does a person choose where to spend their time?  I like lots of different genres, so for me, one of the most important factors to determine if I will stay tuned for the whole show is the eyes of the actors.

I am not an acting critic or a movie buff, but I know what I like.  If I am to be convinced a movie is worth my time and attention, then I need the actors to convince me that they believe this story is worth their time and attention.  Physical comedy, voice inflection, even camera shots can all be faked, but it is almost impossible to fake the story your eyes are telling. 

Our eyes are fascinating members of the body – their complexity and beauty.  I once had a person tell me they didn’t like looking a pastor in the eye because they felt I could see into their soul.  While this was said in jest, there is a certain truth that our eyes give a window to our true thoughts or emotions.  Someone says they are fine, but their eyes show their true weariness.  A person says they are not anxious, but their eyes dart around the room in a nervous pattern. 

God frequently uses the eye as a teaching tool for us.  The prophet Ezekiel in 12:2 says that rebellious people have eyes but do not see.  The psalmist writes in 121:1 that we should lift our eyes to the hills for it is from there our help comes.  In Hebrews 12:2 we are instructed to fix our eyes on Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of our faith.  

We find strength when our eyes are on Jesus and His mighty Word.  We find fear and anxiety when we fix our eyes on the world and its troubles.  This is the second week of Advent, and already the temptation is there to take our eyes off the meaning of Christmas.  The first week is easy to make the commitment to pray and prepare for the true meaning of Christmas, but as the day draws near, the distractions increase.  The presents need to be wrapped, the impending family gathering is stressful, the food needs to be planned, the special Christmas programs, parties and events are mounting.  We take our attention off Jesus to deal with all these things, and the stress and anxiety increase – and this was before COVID and masks ever existed. 

John the Baptist is doing this same thing in our readings for this weekend.  John had his eyes on Jesus during his ministry.  He was preparing the way for the Lord and it was going well but now, John finds himself in jail.  John sees the impending doom and sends a message to Jesus, “Are You the One to come, or should we look for another?”  

The realities of John’s personal circumstances overwhelmed his ability to see the big picture.  The immediate needs and distractions of his life outweighed his ability to see Jesus.  Jesus replied lovingly but firmly, “The blind receive sight.”  Jesus said other things as well, but when it came to the eyes, it was all about what you see.

Jesus tells the crowd that on earth there was no one greater than John the Baptist, but it isn’t about the earth.  It is about the Kingdom of Heaven coming down to earth, being known on earth and being our focus.  Jesus taught that the least in the kingdom of heaven would be greater than John the Baptist. 

Where are your eyes focused this Christmas?  Where are they focused each day?  When we focus on our problems, our worries, the world and all its troubles, those things grow larger in our view and hide Jesus from sight.  When we focus on Jesus, the worries, anxieties and troubles of this world grow fuzzy and are hidden behind our Savior Jesus.  

As important as our eyes are, what is even more important is where our eyes are focused.  This season we focus them on the tiny Babe born in the manger, the One who would grow to be Savior of the world.  When we look, when we focus, when we walk, this same Savior reminds us to walk not just by sight and the things we see in the world but instead to walk by faith and the things we see when we focus on Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of our faith.  

In Christ, 

Pastor Erik Gauss

Pastor’s Corner

Faithful for the Future

Stage one is underway!  It all happened so fast, and we weren’t sure how it would go, but the City of Yorkville approved our revised plans and gave us a building permit on Tuesday.  On Wednesday morning we “broke ground” and began site prep for the Caring Hands Thrift Shop addition!  Our Construction Manager, Frank Willman, wanted to get started immediately to stay ahead of the weather.

This is a true blessing for many reasons.  The Thrift Shop expansion is critical for the overall success of our major building project.  In this project we will expand the school, our overall Children’s Ministry and complete some much needed updates to our overall facilities.  More specifically, the Thrift Shop expansion will allow us to empty our Cold Storage area and begin construction there as soon as funds and materials are available.

After the first of the year we will highlight exactly what the Thrift Shop expansion looks like.  For now it is enough to say that the shop will remain at its current location and the size of the facility will double.  This will increase our ministry impact into the community, allow our volunteers to work and serve indoors rather than in makeshift tents, and create space for ministries and community outreach activities to be held.  We are very excited about what God has been accomplishing and lives that have been blessed through this outreach ministry.

Our major project has a ways to go.  Our hope was to raise the full $6 million in order to keep the costs down for families that attend our school.  In reality we are just over $3 million and have a ways to go.  The good news is that we have many families in our Church and School who have not yet made a pledge.  We have over 500 families actively connected to Cross who have not yet made a pledge.  A gift of $5,000 spread over two years would raise an additional $2.5 million and allow us to reach our goal today! 

As the calendar year comes to a close and we begin this exciting step in the project, I ask you to prayerfully consider a gift.  If you already have plans to do so but have not let us know, you can fill out a pledge intention at this link.  If you need more information, visit our campaign page at  

Maybe God will lead you and your family to make a larger gift to help us reach the goal faster.  Maybe God will lead you to a smaller gift, but don’t be discouraged.  I am confident that God who promised is faithful.  Our team is confident God will provide a way forward; we just don’t know what that looks like exactly.  What I do know is that if you are reading this, you are part of that plan!  Please let God lead you to participate in however He encourages through your prayers and your reading of God’s Holy Word.  Consider using Advent devotions or the devotions in our campaign booklet.  You can find them by clicking this link.

We are truly excited how God is clearing that path and moving us forward.  We have a long way to go!  Join together as a body of Christ to share the Good News of Jesus with all the world!

“For this is what the Lord has commanded us: ‘I have made you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.’”  Acts 13:47

In Christ,

Pastor Erik Gauss