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
  • Refined by Fire

    Refined by Fire



    It happened many years ago but it may as well have been yesterday.
    It was the day I realized that all that time I had spent in grade school, high school and college study had not gotten me even one inch closer to the yearning, deep in my soul, to becoming who I was supposed to be. I was 22 and I was lost.

    I had just spent four wonderful years enduring and even enjoying that very expensive rite of passage that young people go through (also known as college…), and like so many of them I had a degree and a diploma, but absolutely no idea which way my privileged life was going to go. The inner pain was nearly excruciating, maybe you have felt it (it's not just for college kids). My parents had invested so much in me. My teachers had such high expectations for me. My friends were already leaping and bounding way ahead of me. The pressure was numbing, as there I sat, working in a travel agency, not to fulfill my dream, but to help an ambitious and entrepreneurial friend fulfill his. I had no idea what my dream was.

    So in the midst of my lostness I cried out to God, as if a character in the Psalms. I protested to a God whose attention I was incessantly trying to capture: “This is too much,” I remember saying, “Where are you? Do you care? Where should I go? What should I do?"

    And then I remember very distinctly that the Lord did not come down from heaven that day and sketch out the next 50 years of my life, binding it in a spiral note book and tabbing all the pages. No, the Lord had something else in mind. You see, I suddenly discovered that on that day, and on every day since, the Lord did hear me. And the Lord did rescue me. How? The Lord came to my aid by changing my faith. The Lord sent family and friends who did not pressure me, but gently held me, and who did all they could to come along side me as I figured out how to make my way through the Valley of the Shadow of Unrelenting Disorientation. The Lord sent me quiet times of prayer and reflection. The Lord sent me those times of Bible reading when certain verses just hit you ‘POW’ right over the head, maybe this has happened to you?

    And when I went from working at a travel agency in Michigan to a personal assistant in Colorado, an equally dead-end job, I did not spend long in lament. Why? God had rescued me! My newly re-tooled faith had assured me that I had no standard to live up to but God’s. I am a child of God! I am a man on a divine mission!

    Jesus says, in this Sunday's Gospel lesson, that, 'everyone will be salted with fire.' How are we dealing with the fires that burn and test, be they vocation, sickness or loss? Are we lamenting in the face value of them, or are we looking deeper, where God is looking, at the ways our trials shape and mold us into all that God has created us to be?


    Reading:
    Transforming Stewardship - CK Robertson
    For the Sake of Heaven and Earth - Irving Greenberg
    Cooking for Baby
  • Resetting My Generosity

    Resetting My Generosity


    The other day my computer went on the fritz.
    It started doing things I didn’t want it to do.
    It would not obey my commands.
    I had no choice but to push ‘reset.’
    As I sat there waiting for the computer to restart, I wondered:
    What if I could push the ‘reset’ button on my life?
    What would I re-program?
    What would I build in differently?

    One thing I would reset would be my generosity.
    Sure, we give our 10% to the church.
    And my wife and I support numerous charities.
    But we could do so much more if we could push the reset button on our underlying attitude.
    Do you know what I mean?

    After all, who says we have to live where we live, eat what we eat, buy what we buy and drive what we drive? Do we choose these things based on what we need, or on how much our paychecks allow? A recent study by the National Council of Churches of Christ concluded that, “the main thing blocking church support is simple: it’s an unsurpassing urge for more affluent living.” Just as I think Jesus is shaping my generosity, I discover that it is really rival attractions that gain more of my religious dollar.

    Sure, there are lots of factors that, over the years, slowly bent my attitude out of shape. Like fish living in water, we are immersed in an acquisitive culture. Most of the important things in my life depend on me, and everyone else, buying things. Nearly every moment of every day, someone is trying to convince me to buy something that I more than likely don’t need. The average American will spend two years of her life watching television commercials. And living in this fishbowl takes its toll. I don’t know how, but I’ve become utterly convinced that I need most of the stuff that I have. Maybe you have felt this way too.

    I know I can’t push the reset button and change overnight. But I do believe that every day I am called to be more like Jesus. This means I am called to be more generous. I believe I can make small changes that add up to a much larger change. I’ve done it before by refusing desserts for a long period, and cashing in on the results on the bathroom scale. One place to start would be pausing to contemplate this simple saying from my childhood:

    “Just think, God gave us everything, and we get to keep 90% of it!”

    In other words, instead of thinking that everything is mine, I remind myself that it is all God’s, and one of God’s gifts to me is to help distribute it. Now I will let you in on a secret. When someone sends me an email requesting donations for a walk-a-thon, help meeting the mortgage bill, aid a needy child in a foreign country, or for a contribution to church, I absolutely love saying ‘yes.’ I love getting out my checkbook. I like helping people in need. I really like being generous. You probably do too. Pushing the reset button on generosity means getting more in touch with this feeling. How might we do this in our lives today?

    Reading:
    The Road to Daybreak - Henri Nouwen
    For the Sake of Heaven and Earth - Irving Greenberg
    Transforming Stewardship - CK Robertson
  • Deny Yourself, Take Up Your Cross, and Follow Me

    Deny Yourself, Take Up Your Cross, and Follow Me


    I got a phone message this week from one of our parishioners, a longtime member who I had not yet met. The tone of the message was urgent so I returned the call right away.

    My new friend used calm and steady words to describe the eye-opening experience so many of us have had when our vocabularies are forced to expand and include technical and medical jargon, especially words that have life-threatening connotations. After some time describing the severity of the affliction, the treatment and the prognosis my friend began to make the kinds of connections so many of us make when we face similar circumstances: How does this turn of events play out in the wider space of my life? How is God involved in all this? All of a sudden, the possessions, experiences, goals and plans that were all set and sound are not so firm and immovable. We are in a new place, a scary place, a painful place. But if everything happens for a reason, albeit, reasons we rarely know or understand, then what could God be up to here?

    And as my friend so eloquently, wonderfully, and inspirationally described, she intends to use this challenge to move closer to the kind of place Jesus describes to us this in Sunday's reading -"If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me."

    Perhaps the biggest temptation you and I face in contemporary society is to simply allow life to pass before us, with all the tragic and happy colors of an Independence Day parade. And as life spins before us and through us and by us we are tempted to simply hold on, unable and unwilling to step back and let it all in. Serious health issues provide us with the kinds of opportunities many of us secretly crave, the chance to get off, step back, and look at our lives for what they are: Gifts from God, given us to enjoy, to share and to give away. And most of the people you and I have known who have gone through serious medical challenges would probably tell us that the opportunity it afforded them to re-think and renew turned out to be greater than they ever imagined, perhaps even life-saving.

    Anthony DeMello has noted that pleasant experiences make life delightful, but they rarely, if ever, lead to growth. What leads to growth is painful experiences. Suffering points us toward areas where we have not yet grown, where we need to grow, and be transformed and changed. You and I have probably always suspected that if we knew how to use that suffering- boy, how we would grow.

    Reading
    Awareness - Anthony DeMello
    Imitation of Christ - Thomas a Kempis
    My Struggle with Faith - Joseph Girzone
  • Grit

    Grit


    Not far from my house is a stretch of Woodward Avenue that attracts heroin-thin women who wear their clothes like Saran Wrap and hairstyles like Medusa. They sport brash attitudes and colorful vocabularies that would make rugby players blush. They strut and wave and shout into the wee hours of the night in desperate hopes of attracting the attentions of the drivers whizzing by in a 50 mile per hour zone. Most of them are feeding drug habits. Some are feeding children.

    I see them in rare instances when my morning run begins before dawn. There they are, giving shout-outs to their associates, heckling for customers, keeping up the neighbors. They’re obnoxious, immoral and rude, and so it’s hard for me to believe that the only place in the Bible where Jesus is bested in a debate, is by someone like this.

    This Sunday’s gospel reading, about Jesus’ encounter with the Syrophoenician woman drips with irony. Jesus has just finished cutting the Judean Elite down to size for their judgmentalism regarding hand washing. And here Jesus is, allowing the exact same rules to keep him from helping a woman with a legitimate need – the healing of her daughter. Sure, she’s a Gentile, some say a hooker, who has violated all sorts of taboos like being out alone, talking to a man and talking back to a man. And Jesus seems well aware of this, ‘Let the children be fed first,’ he says, surely not expecting any back talk. But here it comes; ‘Sir, even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.’ It is a retort that sends Jesus, backpedaling; ‘Go- the demon has left your daughter.’

    Grit, determination, courage, willpower, fortitude. The Gospel writer is willing to paint Jesus in a bad light so that a greater point can be made: dogged determination goes a long way. Many of us are sitting around, wallowing in self-pity and inertia, and need to wake up to the importance of getting up and doing what we’ve been called to do. We need to drop the apathy, lethargy and indifference and find out what’s really burning inside – what do we really want out of life? And perhaps more importantly, what does life want out of us?

    The poverty that plagues the majority of the world, the stupid disease that kills thousands of children every day – were the body of Christ to harbor a prostitute’s desperation toward the suffering of the world, there is probably no social ill we could not conquer. Jesus did not come to save individual souls, but to save the world. What role is Jesus calling us to play in this divine plan?

    Reading:
    The Bottom Billion: Why the Poorest Countries Are Failing and What Can Be Done About It – Paul Collier
    The Limits of Power – Andrew Bacevich
    Mere Christianity – CS Lewis
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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