DEC 27 2014
As I sort through my year-end mail, I notice that several of the yuletide well wishes come from my readers. No surprise. I get a lot of positive and encouraging responses from my readers.

When I do hear a disapproving voice, it’s almost always from someone who’s unacquainted with my style of humor and introspection. Judging me from a single column is a bit like judging a serial cartoon by one strip.

So, in an effort to persuade my reproachful readers, I want to use this year-end column to reprise a sample body of my work from 2014.

In October I shocked a few readers when I asked them to consider using pick-up lines. No, not the happy hour variety.

The lines I suggested were designed to “pick up” the spirit of the fellow strugglers we meet in our daily journey. The column encouraged readers to skip the cultural nicety of asking people, “How are you?” and ask folks, “What are you praying for?” or “What are you hoping for?”

Asking someone this question demonstrates two things. First, you get the person to examine his greatest needs. Second, and more importantly, you declare your willingness to enter a spiritual covenant that will help the person attain that greatest need.

The column I wrote in August about a stillborn baby brought the most response of any column I’ve written to date.

You recall that the parents I described in the column asked me to go to the morgue to pray for their baby. It was there, against all the classroom theology I’d ever been taught, I decided to speak to the baby from my heart.

“Hello, sweetheart,” I said. “You were someone’s promise — someone’s anticipation and expectation. Your mama and daddy love you very much. I know because they asked me to come and tell you that one more time.”

After “talking” to the baby, I pronounced a blessing and prayed for the parents:
“God, I entrust to your care this life conceived in love. May your blessing come upon these parents. Remove all anxiety from their minds and strengthen this love so that they may have peace in their hearts and home.”

I rewrapped the baby and gently placed her back onto the refrigerated shelf.

Many of you generously responded to July’s column about my daughter’s humanitarian work teaching sixth graders in Marcala, Honduras.

As you may recall, the July newscasts were filled with some ugly images of protesters angrily greeting buses filled with children from Central America. I told you then that I was concerned about the abusive slurs and hateful shouts that Americans have aimed toward Honduran refugee children in recent news clips. They are unbecoming of a country known for its beauty, and I’m betting most Americans are better than that.

That “bet” I referred to was my challenge for readers to contribute to Sara’s effort to supply books to the Honduran children. Next month, I’ll travel to Honduras carrying many of those books. If you want to read more about this endeavor, go to

Hopefully this year-end review has shown you a little more of what this column is about. If you want to read more columns, go to my completely redesigned website, At the site you can read 12 years of this column, sign up to receive the column by email, buy my book, invite me to speak in your neighborhood, and donate to causes like the books for Honduran children.

Take the website for a “spin” and tell me how I can improve it and provide you with helpful information.
Blessings to all my readers and happy new year!

Send comments to Chaplain Norris Burkes at or P.O. Box 247, Elk Grove, CA 95759. Twitter @chaplain. Leave your recorded comments at (843) 608-9715. Read more at