Columns

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Called to Be Servants Not Judges

By Norris Burkes Feb 12 2017 Recently I got an email from Jim Meacham, retired Air Force Master Sergeant who served 41 years. Now at 81 years old, he’s well into his second wind volunteering for the River Region Chaplain Service in Montgomery, Alabama. He and 14 other volunteer chaplains serve nearly 500 police officers

Are you a People-person or Task-oriented?

Feb 5 2017 I’ve met a lot of folks who assume it’d be easy to work for the clergy. But I know of one person who would beg to differ. She was the chapel office manager when I was stationed at a small California Air Force base in the mid-1990s. As the Non-commissioned Officer in

Being strong where you are

Posted Jan 29, 2017 By Norris Burkes As this century began, I was embedded with the launch crews at Cape Canaveral Air Station. I was their chaplain, providing moral support through counseling, encouragement and a calming presence. Best of all, I got to deliver the launch prayers for the Space Shuttle. One morning in 2000,

Working Your Way out of the Blues into the Pink

By Norris Burkes Jan 22 2017 In case you missed it, last Monday, January 16, was "Blue Monday." Supposedly, this is the day that many of us feel depressed. That's because we are feeling the combined stress of bad weather, broken fitness resolutions, consumer debt and post-holiday blues. According to a CNN story, "…the science

A lie “in Jesus name”

Jan 15, 2017 By Norris Burkes Twice this week, folks forwarded me emails containing "urgent information." One sender warned me about a new movie that ridicules Christ. The other implored me to ignore notes carjackers are placing on cars in the dark of night. A quick Google search exposed both as "urban legends." To most

Striving toward thriving in 2017

Jan 8, 2017 By Norris Burkes When I was a young whip of a preacher, my 80-year-old seminary professor gave me two pieces of advice I've never forgotten. First, he said, "Stop trying to sound like Billy Graham. God has one syllable, not two." OK, that's important. Second, "Forget retiring in a big house. Use

‘Saddest job’ is a high privilege

Jan 1, 2017 By Norris Burkes As the calendar closes on my first year as a hospice chaplain, I can't help but recall the words of friends who warned me that my job would be much too sad for them. The truth is that it was such a high honor to serve these amazing patients

Christmas Peace Lost in Commercial Hustle

Dec 25 2016 by Norris Burkes This Christmas, if you want to uncover the tradition of St. Nicholas, I suggest you look toward the town of Demere, Turkey. After all, that’s where this fourth-century Episcopal saint got his start. I visited Demere in 1998 while I was stationed in Izmir, Turkey, as an Air Force

Christmas cookies become the sign

Dec 18 2016 One of my favorite children's books is "If You Give a Mouse a Cookie" by Laura Numeroff. The book, illustrated by Felicia Bond, is a circular story of comical events that begin when a boy gives a mouse a cookie. In 1989, my wife, Becky, and I shared Christmas cookies with a

Two faiths, one purpose

Dec 11, 2016 Eleven years ago, I was the chaplain for Women and Children at Sutter Medical Center in Sacramento, Calif., where I met a couple that helped me better understand the concept of interfaith. In fact, you might say that Miguel and Bahar Torrente are married to the idea of interfaith. Bahar is a

Prayers and counter-prayers

Dec 2 2016 By Norris Burkes As you might imagine, offering prayers for patients is part of my daily routine as a healthcare chaplain. When they accept my offer, I ask if they’d rather me pray aloud at the moment or pray for them silently later. I allow this option so as to not put

Thanksgiving inspires thankful giving

Nov 26, 2016 Friends thought we were crazy last year when my wife and I downsized our life by selling our 2,800 square feet McMansion and renting an ancient mobile home. If things weren't crazy enough, we halved our salaries by shifting to part-time hours. Now, for the past 18 months, instead of buying kitschy