Chris Yaw

I am a Christ Lover

Chris Yaw

I know, I'm kind of messy - but here goes... I’m an Episcopal priest serving a congregation in Metro Detroit... With a passion for gun safety... A zest for online Christian formation... A zeal for video blogging... A constant writer... A heart for those who have unintentionally harmed... A commitment to workforce housing... A love for marrying people... And an amazing wife, three kiddos and a cat named Sparrow... If you have interests in any of these areas I'd love to connect with you.

Me

Contact Details


  • St. David's Episcopal Church, 16200 W. Twelve Mile Road, Southfield, Michigan, 48076, USA


  • +011 248-557-5430


  • chris@stdavidssf.org

St. David's

I have served as rector of St. David's Episcopal Church in Southfield, MI for 16 years, join us Sundays in person or via zoom.

Trinity Gun Disposal

Working on the issue of unwanted gun disposal, we've made some real progress in helping rid the U.S. of unwanted firearms.

ChurchNext

Since 2013 we have been helping people learn more about faith through our online learning courses at ChurchNext.

Oakland Housing

Helping middle income families get better housing is a challenge that Oakland Housing has been addressing for 75 years.

Hyacinth Fellowship

Because hurting others hurts us, the Hyacinth Fellowship organizes support groups and reminds us that we are not our worst mistakes.

Yaw Wedding

I have been officiating weddings for more than 20 years and continue to find joy in helping couples build lifelong relationships.

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U.S. Guns Produced Today
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Americans Accidentally Killed Today
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Homeless Americans
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Weddings Performed
  • Come to the Light

    Come to the Light


    A race.
    30 years ago.
    Everyone’s forgotten.
    I never will.

    Lacing up soft leather cross-country cleats, I eyed the damp fall course, oak leaves angling to conceal the three mile ribbon of chalk dust that would decide who goes to the State meet and who stays home.

    A gifted runner, why break a sweat, I thought, as I fantasized how the bright red stripe on my letter sweater would look, in the same way a bride imagines that moment when the music goes to Mendelssohn and a church full of elegant necks strain and crane to catch a glimpse of her.

    Off went the gun.
    A puff of smoke, the pound of the herd, the rainbow streak of 1980’s mesh jerseys from every high school in the county, vying for the top 15 spots, All-Region status, and another wood and gold trophy destined to find homes fronting bedroom bookcases, like household idols.
    Rarely is such value ascribed to such cheap plastic.

    I took the lead.
    Then slipped back.
    Why bother, I thought, when Top-15 was my only goal that day.
    My laxity increased.
    It would become my second biggest problem.
    My biggest would be arithmetic.
    I had counted 14th when I crossed the finish line.
    The judges had counted differently.
    This I learned as I eyed the numbered, wooden place card now clutched and about to snap in my anxious and sweaty hand.
    It read 16th.

    Few things are this infuriating.
    A goal, well in view, yet slips away.
    Had I given more, had I focused more, had I allowed myself to give any less than my all, I would not be here.
    A lesson from a race.
    A lesson for life:
    Can I ever really be content when I give anything less than my all?

    “Come to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that their deeds have been done in God,” reads John 3:21.
    It is an invitation not to come part way or halfway, but to come, with all that we are, all the energy we can muster, avoiding the darkness, coming to the light.

    Nicodemus is you and me.
    He recognizes Jesus with clarity and caution.
    He comes at night, away from the crowds and conclusions that a midday visit would surely draw.
    Nicodemus, you and me… followers of Jesus whose reputations are in jeopardy every time we draw closer to the light.

    Why follow more closely, we wonder.
    Can’t I stay a safe distance, can’t I put some of my energies elsewhere?
    Must I really die?
    I have goals: to find purpose, to find meaning, and to give back.
    I have found that goal in Jesus.
    I know who I am, I know who I can be, and I know how to love, in Jesus.
    I know I am my best self, in Christ.
    But can’t I get there by giving a bit less than my all?
    Can I hold back anything?
    Must I surrender everything?

    Can I really be my happiest by giving less than 100%?

    That’s an easy one.
    Just ask any runner who’s every finished 16th.


    Recommended Books:
    The Last Week –Marcus Borg & Dominic Crossan
    Reading the Bible Again for the First Time – Marcus Borg
    The Promise of Paradox – Parker Palmer
  • 'Wejus' Praying

    'Wejus' Praying


    Ever prayed with a person or a group of people whose most commonly used petitionary word is 'wejus' - as in 'Lord wejus want to come before you... wejus want to thank you... wejus... wejus... wejus...?'

    When I was a younger Christian I prayed like this, but over the years it has become somewhat annoying. I mean, I don't talk to anyone else like this, much less someone I am interested in impressing. What if I were called to lead a group of pastors to the Oval Office to petition for, say, better health care for the poor, a decrease in military spending or a more equitable tax scheme, would the president take me very seriously if my petitions were as heavily peppered with, 'wejus....'?

    The fundamental problem I have with 'wejus' praying is its flawed soteriology - what it says about the saving work of Christ. A major theme of 1979 Book of Common Prayer worship, expressed plainly in Eucharistic Rite II, Prayer B tells us we are, 'worthy to stand before you' - suggesting our relationship with God is as one who joyfully receives a gracious gift given in spite of our shortcomings. No, we do not deserve to belong to Christ, we have sinned grievously and repetitively. However, we are saved, forgiven, and able to, 'approach the throne boldly' (Hebrews 4:16) if we believe what we say we believe. Thus, we really ought to act like this, especially in public petition. 'Wejus' praying seems to suggest a profoundly unbiblical understanding of this salvation. While I admire, and perhaps need to model, the humility attempted in this style of petition, I wonder if it is misplaced and needs to be thought through by the petitioner.

    What's more, 'wejus' praying sounds disingenuous, as if our petitions are to be answered because we have taken on some sort of faux-humble vocabulary, when we know that our petitions are not met because of what we've done, or even who we are, but because of who God is.

    So if you are a 'wejus' person, I am not trying to make you angry - and I apologize if I have offended you - however I am asking you to think through how you approach the Almighty in public prayer. When God gave us this amazing gift of Jesus it was not to turn us into endless penitents, but victorious saints whose words of public petition ought to create an atmosphere of gracious invitation and boundless possibility, which seems to be much more in keeping with the personality of the God of the Bible. It makes me think that more people who pray in public might want to think this through.
  • The Life We Really Want

    The Life We Really Want


    What makes us think that following Jesus simply requires a minor adjustment to our ordinary lives?

    In a world that equates claiming Jesus alongside our preference for choosing one style of sneaker over another, one brand of peanut butter compared to a second, and the blue packet, not the pink one, thank you, as sweeteners in our coffee, this passage stands out like a muumuu in a nudist colony.

    GK Chesterton famously said Christianity has not been tried and found wanting, but rather, found difficult and not tried. These harsh words of discipleship become the first ones Jesus says to his friends following the revelation that he is the Christ and that he is headed to Jerusalem. These are the first things Jesus tells you and me when we decide, at our baptism, confirmation, re-affirmation or whenever we decided to get serious about Jesus, that the road ahead is not distinguished by luxury and leisure (which is why bishops used to slap confirmands on the cheek following their commitments).

    This, of course is not the Jesus talk that makes friends and influences people. It is revolutionary talk that gets him killed. It is talk that misguided church folk sanitize, disinfect and sweep out of our churches as best we can, for were we to take them seriously we would not only risk being treated as pariahs by friends and relatives, but we would pass up those temporary and fleeting possessions, experiences and self images that we have somehow convinced ourselves are so important to living the Good Life.

    There is simply no way to get around the harshness of these words.

    And there is no way getting around the truth of these words.

    For Jesus didn’t give them to us to afflict us or to torture us but to tell us that this is what the world is really like.

    When we tell our children not to lie it’s not so much because we want them to live up to some ethical standard, or to keep them from embarrassing us in front of the neighbors, but we teach them not to lie because they can’t. To live a life based on lies is not life at all. Sooner or later you’re caught, and any short-term gain you’ve made is quickly erased and there is more pain and hardship to bear than if the road of truth had been taken.

    M. Scott Peck famously started off one of his books with the words, ‘Life is difficult.’ And he did so in the same way Jesus does here – he simply wants to tell us the truth. It’s not that there is no luxury or ease, it’s just nobody’s life is like that all the time. Why is suicide the 11th ranked killer in the affluent United States and nearly undetectable in impoverished Haiti? Life is difficult by definition. That’s the way the world is made, and if we really want to live the best life there is, it is through the Jesus way. Many of us will attest to the fact that any other route takes us through even bumpier roads and even deeper heartaches.

    So as difficult as these words appear, they are like filthy oysters that hide the pearl of great price. For inside we find the life we’re looking for, and life more abundantly.
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    ADDRESS

    St. David's Episcopal Church, 16200 W. Twelve Mile Road, Southfield, MI 48076 USA

    EMAIL

    chris@stdavidssf.org

    TELEPHONE

    +011 248-557-5430