Archived Sections, Lutherans in the Twin Cities

Christ Lutheran, Blaine, Minnesota, tackles stress

North suburban parish teaches the fast-paced how to “be still”

With stress an in-creasing factor in many lives in modern society, a north suburban Lutheran congregation is doing something to help people refocus. The congregation and its director of music and liturgy have developed an adaptable word-and-music retreat program.
Christ Lutheran Church in Blaine and Kris O’Brien, Director of Music and Liturgy, now produce stress-reducing retreats under the theme “Be Still.” The retreat program can be presented at the Blaine church with its high-quality sound and lighting system as well as at other locations. Also available is a 75-minute CD of word and music that contain the elements of “Be Still” retreats. (The CD cover is pictured elsewhere on this page.)
Bishop Mark Hanson, when he was the leader of the ELCA’s St. Paul Area Synod, used the retreat for his staff before he went on to become Presiding Bishop of the ELCA. Among others, Lord of Life Lutheran Church in Ramsey has used the retreat.
Pastor Richard Beckmen, a former associate pastor of Central Lutheran Church in Minneapolis, and Christos Retreat Center, Lino Lakes, collaborated in a retreat held at the Blaine church.
Says O’Brien, “Be Still” was created out of our own need for calm and peace. With all of our technical ad-vances, our hearts remain the same. There’s a need to slow down, take the next exit ramp and re-connect with God.
She commented, “We believe that there are times when we don’t need to participate to have a deeply-moving moment or revelation; we believe there are times when we need the quiet. In the silence there is great healing on many levels, for we can hear the still small voice of God saying, ‘Come to me all who are weary and I will give you rest.’”
She attributes her appreciation for quiet mediation to growing up in the Roman Catholic Church prior to Vatican II; at that time the Mass was in Latin and worshippers’ participation consisted of meditation.
“The first time the re-treat was created and performed was 1997, and the response of those at-tending was incredible … tears, calm, quiet, not wanting to get up and leave; each performance is the same, having the same effect on those in attendance.”
She explained, “We have something unique in this retreat … We haven’t heard anyone really do it like this … vocals, keyboards and multiple readers — both men and women. Most words are spoken over music, so the mood is never broken. This music is for the depths of your soul — music and words to calm your heart and mind.
A Volume 2 “Be Still” CD is scheduled to be available in July and will mirror the live performance in content.
For the past 23 years, O’Brien has directed the music and liturgy at Christ Lutheran, bringing extensive use of the sensory into worship — sound, light and movement. Pastor Duane Salness, interim lead pastor at Christ Lutheran, reflected on the worship services at the Blaine church, saying, “I appreciate the opportunity presented by this worship style, which allows time for silence, meditation and reflection.” The seamless worship style makes people want to come back.
Kris O’Brien’s musical career has included performing with Gordon Lightfoot, John Denver and The Brothers Four. She performed through 20 states with a concert group called “Krisendale,” managed by David Zimmerman, Bob Dylan’s brother. Now, she’s devoting a lot of her energy to the “Be Still” retreats and the about-to-be-released Volume 2.
Those interested in “Be Still” live performances, the new CD or Christ Lutheran’s common-bulletin, blended-style of worship for its three weekend services may contact Kris O’Brien at the church. Call 763-784-3300.