Pastor’s Corner

In Memoriam

I have always had a special affection for our military men and women.  As young as I can remember, my life was positively influenced by people in uniform.  My uncle served his whole life in the Air Force.  I hardly ever saw him but always wanted to visit him at his base in Hawaii.  It was always a special gift to be able to connect with him and his family.

The oldest son of my next door neighbor went into the Air Force when I was just in kindergarten or so.  Eventually he married my oldest sister.  He just retired after 39 years of service.  In Boy Scouts some of the most active volunteers were the Vietnam veteran dads of my friends.  They always told the best stories and had the coolest survival tips.  

Before I understood what any of it meant, I knew there was something different about these military people.  Despite the often gruff or solemn exterior, despite the fact that so many of them had been trained to kill, they always seemed willing to serve, willing to make the extra sacrifice and had a little bit bigger heart, even if it was sometimes buried deep.  

As I got older I realized that in John 15:13 Jesus put words to the powerful act of self-sacrifice:  “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.”  In my experience this verse encapsulates my experience with our service men and women.  Although they are called upon to do the most indescribable and unthinkable acts, they often also have the biggest hearts and the greatest love – love of country, love for their fellow man, love for the world and the ability to make a global difference overseas.  

One act of love is respecting their commanding officer whether they agree with them or not.  This Fourth Commandment issue of “Honor your mother and father” quite literally can mean the difference between life and death for you and the people with whom you serve.  Choosing to respect people who are placed in a position of leadership is lost or at least well hidden in our social media and sound bite society.  We are too worried about ourselves, and the Devil is constantly sowing seeds of distrust.  We forget about the sake of a greater good, a good that is outside of ourselves and the sacrifice it takes to get there. 

This leads to another act of love modeled by our military.  In Matthew 5, Jesus expands on what sacrificial love is truly about:  You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’  But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven.  For He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.” 

In the United States the personal freedoms we have mean that people are allowed to disagree.  Instead of our military fighting for their particular ideal they are in fact fighting for the freedom to vehemently disagree.  This isn’t just a concept; it’s a reality that gets put to the test frequently, including over the last few years.  

This Memorial Day weekend please remember those who have made the ultimate sacrifice, who have paid the highest price for the freedoms we have.  As the children of God, exercise those freedoms by gathering for worship and for sharing the true Gospel of Jesus.  In true faithfulness share that Gospel in love – true love – love that is shown by setting aside your personal agenda and sacrificially loving our enemies, just as we are loved.

In Christ,

Pastor Erik Gauss

Scripture Readings for Sunday, May 29

Revelation 3:7-13

Luke 24:44-53

Pastor’s Corner

Faithful for the Future:  Updates

We continue to move forward with the grace of God!  I need to take a moment and thank Frank Willman for his service and his “labor for the Lord” on the Caring Hands Thrift Shop.  Frank has navigated this project through an extremely volatile time for construction, as well as some dramatic and sudden changes along the way.  I also want to thank the City of Yorkville who saw the value of this ministry to the community and, in spite of some early challenges, has worked hand in hand with us to keep this project moving forward!

Here is a link to the official floor plan for the new addition:

Initially the building was going to be a metal construction “out” building.  This would have served the shop well but would not have been permitted for shoppers to enter; only staff could work in it.  Also, this primitive construction would not have had plumbing and only a portion would have been finished with HVAC, etc.  After an initial verbal affirmation of the size and design of the “out” building, the permitting process revealed an error on the part of the City with regard to acceptable construction and thus rejected this design.  

With last winter approaching and the City eager to work with us, Frank Willman and the City navigated the redesign and new permitting process with blinding speed.  This included previously unnecessary civil engineering, plumbing, architectural drawings, construction drawings, and many redesigns of the interior.  These redesigns were partially because the City required we meet codes the “out” building would have been exempt from and also because meeting the code ordinances would allow the public to utilize the new addition. 

The result is what you see on the floor plan and in person as you drive by the Shop.  The new design includes bathrooms, laundry, sinks, furniture sale floor space and a large prayer cafe.  The new design is everything we hoped it would be but more than we planned for.  The immediate need and the budget constraints made this version of a building seem impossible and yet, by God’s grace, here we are.  The initial adversity converted into a blessing by the hand of God. 

So far, several skilled laborers have donated their work on this amazing project.  We are still looking for skilled electricians and other laborers to help keep the costs down.  We can still save about $40,000 in costs of final construction if we are able to get the right laborers at the right time.  Please contact Frank Willman or the church office if you are interested in serving in this way. 

Even still, the cost for a fully functional building that meets all commercial code requirements is more expensive than an “out” building.  At the same time, the additional expenses have been kept to a minimum largely by the open lines of quick and clear communication between the City, Frank Willman and all the parties involved.  Because we were able to move quickly we also beat most of the increases of construction costs that we now see.  This new building is expected to be completed within the funds we have available to us through the approved amount of the tithe from the capital campaign and from cash available in savings.  The intention is that the Thrift Shop would return enough from sales to replace the amount spent from savings within ten years. 

The update for the Church/School campus isn’t quite as interesting . . . yet.  We have, however, received and reviewed the final construction drawings for the new project.  This is exciting because it means we will be able to put the plans out for bid and get an idea approximately how much things will cost us in this new construction environment in which we find ourselves.  We look forward to presenting the final drawings to the congregation at our annual meeting in August.  We hope to have a recommended plan for construction and a funding model for that plan at the same time.

In the meantime, we are currently looking to add two more classrooms this fall!  One room would be for third grade and one would be for another preschool classroom.  This is exciting, but each year we add rooms and don’t build makes everything else that much more complicated.  What a tremendous challenge and opportunity the Lord has blessed us with!

“Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm.  Let nothing move you.  Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.”  1 Corinthians 15:58

His servant and yours,

Pastor Erik Gauss


Scripture Readings for Sunday, May 22

Revelation 3:1-6

John 5:1-9


Pastor’s Corner

Following the Lord’s Lead

“We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps.”  Proverbs 16:9

This verse has a history here at Cross and is a great reminder that as followers of Jesus we are just that:  followers.  When we follow Jesus we don’t always go where we anticipated, but God always leads to “green pastures and still waters.”  The journey of following Jesus will have its challenges; the Devil actively works to thwart the Lord’s plans, but our Lord and His plans never fail. 

Here are three people who we will be celebrating over the next three weeks as they take their next steps on their journey following the Lord.

Justin Weber – May 15

Justin is a young man who came to faith in our congregation through our youth ministries.  It has been a long road with many ups and downs as he has worked faithfully to turn away from his life without Jesus to follow Jesus with everything he is.  Justin decided to go to Concordia University Chicago to become a Director of Christian Education (DCE).  He wants to make an impact on others with the Gospel, just like what happened for him here at Cross. 

COVID of course has made everyone’s plans change, and Justin was no exception.  Rather than move into the dorms and work with youth ministries near the campus, Justin was forced to commute.  Thankfully, Justin was granted an exception from the university to serve here at Cross (his home congregation) as a field worker over the past year.  

Justin has served a wide array of ministries and gotten lots of experience from children through young adult ministries.  We too have been blessed to have the extra help during this challenging season.  It is now time for Justin to move on campus and continue his field work experience in a new and different setting.  Sunday, May 15 will be his last day, and we will be praying for his future and wishing him Godspeed at our 11 AM service

Isabel Gauss – May 22

I must first commend Cross because I know you pray for us and you treat your called church workers with great respect, even when we disagree.  Cross has helped to raise my children, and now we’d like to invite you to celebrate Isabel. 

Isabel has a heart for serving.  Since she was little she has helped Alicia in the nursery, moved on to Children’s Ministry and for the last several years has served as part of our Music Ministry as a singer in our Sunday services.  Next fall she will enter Valparaiso University’s Christ College Honors College and the School of Music to begin her journey toward Music Education.  While at Valparaiso she will participate in the Allen Scholars program to explore her vocation as a woman of God who desires to serve the Lord’s Church as an adult.  

We’d love to invite you all over to our house, but that just seemed an impossible task!  Instead, Isabel will be in the fellowship hall from 8:45-11 AM on Sunday, May 22.  We will provide some celebratory snacks to compliment our normal coffee and donuts.  We hope that many of you will join us!

Rev. Walter Ramirez – May 29

On May 8 Walter received a Divine Call to full-time ministry with Tabor Lutheran Church in Chicago.  While we will certainly grieve this end of our current Spanish speaking ministry, we are elated at the opportunity this is for God’s greater Kingdom work.  The impact Walter and his family will be able to make is significantly increased in the Latino community they will be serving. 

We will celebrate Walter’s nine years in Kendall County and here at Cross on Sunday, May 29 in our services.  Then we will cheer him on and pray for God’s work through Walter as he is installed at Tabor on Sunday, June 5 at 3 PM.  This installation is open for all to attend and will be followed by a neighborhood block party.  You will get a great feel for how God has been working at Tabor if you choose to attend.  I know Pastor Grieves and I both are planning to be there.  

Many new paths, all following Jesus’ calling in their lives.  I hope you are inspired to do the same each and every day as we listen for God’s leadership and then courageously follow where He guides.

In Christ,

Rev. Erik Gauss

Scripture Readings for Sunday, May 15

Revelation 2:18-29

Matthew 7:13-23

Pastor’s Corner

Unity (in Christ)

Division is a primary tool of the Devil and the natural consequence of sin.  God is by definition a God of unity.  His very nature is Triune:  three distinct Persons, one singular God.  True unity is so foreign to us sinners living in a sinful world that we don’t have words to describe it!  To define God’s nature we had to make up a word, Trinity, and then we call it a miraculous truth we must accept on faith.  There are no perfect similarities in our world.  But division?  We have countless, perfect illustrations of division.

This week a 98 page rough draft of a Supreme Court document was leaked on the internet.  As of now, no one knows where it came from, but its contents have stirred up a lot of emotion, debate and division.  If this document remains unchanged in its final format, abortion would no longer be considered a federally protected procedure.  Each state would establish its own laws.  

In the news and in the media, even in our backyard discussions, we often simplify complex issues with repeatable slogans.  “Pro-choice” and “pro-life” happen to be the most widely used terms in this debate.  Unfortunately, or maybe fortunately, it is never this simple; oversimplifying complex issues can make them easier to campaign for but also drive polarization and division.

Every day we encounter people from all different walks of life with all different backgrounds and all different opinions.  Over the past couple years we have dealt with many of them again.  Political elections, racism, religion, LGBTQ+, masks, vaccines and now abortion have all elevated to national crisis levels and highlighted division in our nation.  (I know I’m forgetting some issues; there are just so many.)  

As a person of faith I believe there is one driving force behind all earthly conflict.  It is the work of the Evil One who sows the seed of division.  In Romans 12, Jesus describes true unity not as people who all agree on everything, but as people with diverse backgrounds bringing those differences together, redeeming them and using them for good.  This unity comes together like a human body made up of many different parts but all governed by the same head.  In this case that “head” is Jesus Christ.  We lay down our old self and put on our new self. 

Sometimes the ideas in our own mind about how things ought to go cloud our understanding of how things are.  Acts 2:42 can be one of those ideas:  And all the believers met together in one place and shared everything they had.”  We read this passage and our mind thinks about uniformity.  These early Christians were anything but uniform in their personalities and opinions.  Their backgrounds were diverse and their education varied.  Some were fishermen, others tax collectors, still others were Roman citizens.  What this Chapter highlights is that on the “Day of Pentecost” (Acts 2:1), something powerful and transformative happened.  Each believer submitted their personal agendas for the good of the Gospel.  They became singular in their efforts and unified in the position of Jesus in their lives.  He is their Head, their King, their Savior.  Christ became more; everything else became lesser. 

This unity still happens today.  At Cross people have sold land, donated food, given cars and sacrificed in countless ways for the sake of one another.  Each year we give away money and goods to individuals and families in need.  Every day people donate time in our thrift shop, day school, children/youth ministries, worship services and in the community to serve and love others in Christ’s name.  

We must continue to find unity in Christ because without Christ there is only brokenness.  The issue of abortion seeks to become another seed of division.  Like our Lenten theme this year we must see that what the Devil intends for evil, God intends for good.  He will have us transform the hurt and brokenness into healing.  God is love, and the very definition of love is that we lay down our lives for those whom we love.  Defending my personal rights makes it nearly impossible to truly love one another.  

How do we find unity?  Through laying down our lives and loving those who hurt, healing those who are broken, proclaiming forgiveness for those who have sinned, fighting for the rights of those who cannot fight for themselves and realizing that legislating morality doesn’t change the heart.  The only thing that changes the heart is the only thing that brings unity.  It also happens to be the one thing we, the Church, have that no one else on earth has:  the power of the Holy Spirit working through the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

There are a lot of hurting people in our nation and world.  This leaked document and the ruling that will come out in June will bring those specific hurts to the surface.  Some will celebrate, others will grieve, but the work of the followers of Christ should focus on healing and true unity no matter what the result:  faith driven support to mothers, fathers and children who are born and unborn in the compassionate, sacrificial love of Jesus Christ.  I think that is something we can all agree on, work toward and share the hope of the Gospel to those in this most sacred and nervous time of their lives.  

“So now I am giving you a new commandment:  Love each other.  Just as I have loved you, you should love each other.  Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are My disciples.” – Jesus

His servant and yours,

Pastor Erik Gauss