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Christos Center guides people to find God through quiet reflection

Finding the voice of God in a burning bush is not likely. In fact, in today’s
world of constant noise and interruptions, hearing what God is saying to us at
all can be a challenge. But, there are many ways God speaks to us if we pay
attention. At the Christos Center, a Lutheran reflection center located in Lino
Lakes, Minnesota, people are given the opportunity to come closer to God
through listening and quiet prayer.
“So often we talk to God and that’s fine; we need to talk to God. But then we
don’t sit back in the silence and listen to what God may want to say to us,”
says Pat Hendricks, executive director of the Christos Center.
Thirty years ago, the Rev. Joann Nesser founded the Christos Center. For ten
years prior, she had attended a Roman Catholic retreat center where she
participated in solitude, silence, reflection, and spiritual direction. Based on
this experience, she worked with women from her congregation to begin
offering similar retreats. This small group of women has since emerged into
what is now the Christos Center, an organization that offers retreats,
workshops, and spiritual direction ministries at both its 51-acre Lino Lakes
location, which is surrounded by woods and wetlands, as well as its southern
location in Edina, Minnesota.
While the Christos Center was founded by Lutherans, the organization claims
a perspective on not just the Lutheran church, but the Protestant church as a
whole. Says Hendricks, “While there are a lot of Lutherans here, there are a lot
of people from other denominations, as well. We are unashamedly Christian.”
For those in the Protestant church, Christos Center fills a gap of spiritual
reflection. One class offered through the Christos Center’s spiritual direction
training focuses on what was gained and lost in the Reformation. A loss that
instructor Brad Holt, Ph.D., professor of church history at Augsburg College,
speaks about is that of the vocation of a spiritual director or counselor, as
well as that of meditative prayer.
“It’s not to say that we don’t believe in intercessory prayer. That is an
incredible prayer form. Sometimes, the quieter prayer enhances the
intercessory prayer,” Hendricks says.
In today’s busy society, prayer is an important spiritual discipline. Hendricks
says, “Our minds are full and I think we’re simply hungry…to slow down, to
encounter God in a less noisy place….What we help people do is learn how to
do that.”
Hendricks asks, “How do you sit with divinity, this triune God, and engage in
deep communion with this God? There are disciplines that we implement to
help us do that.” The Christos Center teaches these disciplines through
programs that last either nine months, or a more intensive two-year
program, as well as through shorter workshops.
The nine-month program is meant to help people in their own, personal
spiritual deepening. The two-year track is meant to prepare people for
deeper spiritual training. Most people who go through this program are
involved in a faith community and are looking for training to bring back to
their congregations.
Spiritual directors are trained to guide others on their search for spiritual
maturity. They are carefully trained that they are not counselors, but are
meant to bring a person back to God. Helping a person on this journey to
find what God is saying can be as rewarding for the director as it is for the
directee. Directors are often humbled by journeying with someone,
accompanying them on their spiritual journey.
“The directors are often awed by how God is present in the directee, and this
does nothing but build the faith of the director,” Hendricks says. “There are
times after a directee leaves my office that I just want to go on my knees and
worship God for what I see happening in another’s life.”
This June marked the 30th anniversary of the Christos Center. Upcoming
events at the Christos Center include “Soulful Play,” on August 8, a day
dedicated to experiencing God in artistic ways and a local pilgrimage to
Northfield, Minnesota, to visit natural sites and encounter God in natural
beauty. For more information on the organization, as well as these and other
upcoming events, visit www.christoscenter.org.