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.


Contact Details

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

  • +011 248-557-5430


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.


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.

U.S. Guns Produced Today
Americans Accidentally Killed Today
Homeless Americans
Weddings Performed
  • Fear is the Mind Killer

    Fear is the Mind Killer

    Hearts gently pounding.
    Foreheads getting warmer.
    Breath becoming more shallow.
    Got… to… make… it…
    One more step.
    And there he is.
    Fighting hard what holds us back.
    Pressing through our mind-killing fear.

    This Sunday’s gospel says something very profound about fear.
    The synagogue leader beat back fear of public shame, embarrassment, not to mention the political fallout, for approaching Jesus.
    The woman with the issue of blood beat back fears of rejection, humiliation and all sorts of social taboos when she burst through the crowds and touched Jesus.
    Fear, about what people think about us, about what could or couldn’t happen, about our own mortality, routinely handcuffs us and keep us from being our best selves.

    The opposite of faith is not unbelief, it is fear – that which keeps us from being who we want to be, who we are called to be, who we can be.

    When Jesus said, ‘your faith has healed you’ he wasn’t commending some mystical and mysterious gift that only the few and the chosen are given-
    -and routinely brag about on religious cable TV shows-
    Jesus was commending determination in overcoming fear-
    -in trusting that God is who God claims to be-
    -in believing in the impudence of a love-stained Savior who does not hesitate to leave behind the riches of heaven for the poverty of humanity in order to show love, to share love, and to be love in our midst.

    It is the shortest and most concise sermon Jesus ever preached:
    “Do not fear, only believe.”
  • How Underdogs Win

    How Underdogs Win

    “David put his hand in his bag, took out a stone, slung it, and struck the Philistine on his forehead; the stone sank into his forehead, and he fell face down on the ground.”
    1 Samuel 17:49

    We all have a special place in our hearts for underdogs.

    Whether it’s Susan Boyle or a slumdog millionnaire most of us relish the chance to see the underdog beat the odds and do the unexpected. Perhaps it’s because we like to fuel hope for our own dreams and aspirations, which we may view as equally far-fetched.

    However, current research suggests that underdogs not only win more than we think they do, but when they are savvy and play to their strengths they actually win most of the time.

    A political scientist named Ivan Arreguin-Toft recently analyzed every war in the last 200 years involving conflicts in which one side was at least ten times as powerful (in terms of armed might and population) and found that the underdog lost 71.5% of the time. However that means the underdog also won 28.5% - or almost one third of the time. (How David Beats Goliath, Malcolm Gladwell, The New Yorker, 5/11/09)

    This means that the story of David and Goliath, which we recently heard in church and widely regard as an anomaly, really isn’t that abnormal after all when we analyze what David did – what underdogs do – to gain the upper hand.

    As we all know the Philistines, who were camped out across from the Israelites, sent their top warrior, the gargantuan Goliath, out to challenge the Hebrews. Intimidated and frightened by this giant none of the seasoned warriors, who fully accepted the ground rules of the engagement, that the strongest, mightiest would win, would take up the challenge. However David, who was new to the battlefield and refused to accept the ground rules of traditional military engagement, was chomping at the bit to take on Goliath. Not only did he see the opposition differently, but David also differed in the way he assessed the challenge.

    While everyone else tallied their weaknesses (we’re not big enough, we’re not strong enough…) David tallied his strengths – he was small, nimble, and able to use a slingshot with amazing precision. Indeed, when underdogs are able to acknowledge their weaknesses and choose an unconventional strategy, Arreguin-Toft’s research sends David’s winning percentage from 28.5% to 63.6%. What’s more, David also looked at his past victories, as a shepherd fending off bears and lions from his sheep. And, of course, most importantly, David had the confidence of God’s calling and presence with him. David’s enthusiasm lines up in stark contrast to the fear and cowering of his colleagues’ as he goes out and slays the mighty Goliath.

    Today, we have many Goliaths.

    And we see ourselves as underdogs in many ways.

    Many people regard Middle Class Americans as underdogs (America’s Middle Class Still Losing Ground, Center on American Progress, 7/30/08), Detroiters as underdogs (Detroit’s Beautiful, Horrible Decline, TIME Magazine, 2/26/09), and, of course, mainline Protestantism as an underdog (Protestants Close to Losing Majority Status, Amy Green, RNS, 2/25/08 [Pew Research]). But slaying Goliath is not nearly as difficult as we may suspect. When we play to our strengths, look at our past victories and remind ourselves that God’s calling and presence are with us we are able to overcome far more than we might think.

    We are building our underdog church, for example, the same way.
    We are not hiring a rock band, tearing out our pews, installing a dozen big screen monitors or putting in a coffee bar (OK, that last idea is not a bad one). It’s not that we have anything against these things, it’s that we are playing to our strengths. We are determining our own rules of engagement and building on St. David’s time-tested foundation of worship, service, inclusion, discipleship, hospitality and a family atmosphere. We are reminding ourselves of God’s call, not to be someone else, but to be who we are called to be, knowing that the Risen Christ is right beside us, leading and guiding his church, as he has promised.

    To broaden the question we might apply some of these principles to our own lives. What are the Goliaths we now face?
    How might we re-access our strategies by looking at our strengths, not our shortcomings? How might our past successes fuel us? And how might God’s assurances of presence and call help us take on the Goliaths that we face this summer? In doing so we might find we are more powerful than we might think.

    Outliers – Malcolm Gladwell
    Q & A – Vikas Swarup
    How to Read the Bible for All It’s Worth – Gordon Fee
  • The Harvest

    The Harvest

    “In the preaching of Jesus, parables were not vivid decorations of a moralistic point but were disturbing stories that threatened the hearer's secure mythological world -- the world of assumptions by which we habitually live, the unnoticed framework of our thinking within which we interpret other data." - Eugene Boring

    Lest you and I get carried away by the florid nature of Mark's fanciful tales of the sowing and tending and sprouting and harvesting in the eternal sunshine of the pastoral life, you and I are keen to remind ourselves of the drop dead serious nature of Jesus' life and of that firecracker of a book, which contains these tales. It's yarns like this that persuade us that the Bible is nothing more than a book of fairy tales and not, what we really believe it to be, the most important book ever written - a divine writ in which we actually believe the Lord is talking to us about life's most essential matters.

    So as we approach the two short parables assigned for this Sunday (Mark 4: 26-34) we are wise to look a bit deeper, asking ourselves what in our world of assumptions might Jesus be threatening? How could these simple tales knock us out of our pews, and challenge us on some of our most basic convictions?

    For this is what parables do (if they didn't they never would have made it this far) and in the first we hear of someone who sows, tends, then harvests, knowing that despite all of the human work involved, the Lord is the one with the tough job - making the seeds grow. It is a portrait of our lives as partners with the Lord, reminding us that we can't do anything without God and God seems to be unwilling to do anything without us. What work is Jesus just itching to do while waiting for his partners to get off our butts and do their parts?

    Dandelions are the theme of the second parable, at least that's how I interpret a mustard plant. In Bible times it was just as popular, pesky and pervasive. No one wanted them, and no one seemed to be able to get rid of them. And instead of comparing God's kingdom to the cedars of Lebanon or the oaks of Mamre, Jesus chose dandelions. Think about it. They're determined, delightful (in some peoples' eyes), and everywhere. Think about it again.

    That's why Jesus gave us parables.

    Summer Reading:
    The New Face of World Christianity - Mark Noll
    The Culture of Narcissism - Christopher Lasch
    Crazy Love: Overwhelmed by a Relentless God - Francis Chan
  • Knowing the Unknowable

    Knowing the Unknowable

    In a guidebook to Fountains Abbey in Yorkshire, England, under an illustration of the monk's chapel reads the following description: "Here the monks gathered every Sunday to hear a sermon from the Abbot, except on Trinity Sunday, owing to the difficulty of the subject."

    How does one describe the indescribable? Or express the inexpressible?

    After all, in portraying the Trinity you and I are painting a vast rainbow with only charcoal pencils. As Archbishop Rowan Williams puts it, "even in banal contexts we are aware of the fact that our pigeonholes for things, people, emotions and perceptions, are often lagging well behind the fluidity of the real world... and whether it is in theoretical physics or in poetry, we need to express some sense of this strange fact that our language doesn't 'keep up' with the multiplicity and interrelatedness and elusiveness of truth."

    And of all the elusive truths you and I can talk about, God pretty much tops the list.

    Since the beginning of time humans, most of whom seem to have a natural and innate suspicion of 'God,' have struggled to figure out if there, indeed, is one. The illustration above is that of a Roman altar dedicated 'to the unknown God,' which, if taken quite literally, encompasses just about everyone's idea of God, Christianity's included.

    Trinity Sunday poses several questions. Can we ever really 'know' God? Can we come to a convincing certainty, like that of the keyboard underneath my fingers or the car parked in my garage - can I know God with the same confidence? If we say 'no' does that mean there is no God? If we say 'yes' then does that mean we have finally ascended to the pinnacle of religious faith?

    For Trinity Sunday asks you and me to come to grips with the fact that we will not, cannot and will never know everything - actually, much of anything - about the universe in which we live and about the God whom we worship.

    However, as Christians, we do believe we have enough to go on to get us this far. After all, I know very little about what takes place underneath the hood of my car, but I trust it with my life every time I drive to work. We know that the life and ministry of Jesus has touched us and changed our lives. It has introduced us to the deepest love human life has to offer.

    So Trinity Sunday, if nothing else, helps you and me make peace with the great unknown, for we trust it to God's omniscient power. Which means the exercise in faith you and I participate in on this day is one in which we assure ourselves of the basic truths of our faith: God takes care of the birds, God waters the flowers, how much more will God take care of you and me? Trinity Sunday asks us to be content amidst the unknowableness of God, let God be God, and let us be who we are; fully able to embrace love, which is God.

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



    +011 248-557-5430