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
  • Listening

    Listening


    Five years ago a Welchman named Howard Stapleton was getting irritated at the loitering going on in front of the local grocery store. Young teenagers would hang around and harass customers as they went in and out of the store. So Howard built a device that would keep the pesky teens away. It was a box that emitted an irritating sound that only young ears could hear. It was a loud tone, of a certain frequency, that adults, because of the natural deterioration of the human ear, can’t pick up. The device had immediate results – and sent kids scurrying like roaches at sunrise. While some youth advocates protested, Howard’s invention wasn’t banned and continues to be marketed as a way to keep annoying teens from congregating.

    However, Howard did not have the last laugh. Some enterprising teens decided to turn the tables – and use Howard’s special frequency as a ring tone on cell phones – which means that only kids can hear it ring in class, not teachers – so the talking and texting can go on behind the backs of older authorities and the teens get the last laugh.

    In Sunday’s Gospel we hear about something similar when Jesus talks about a voice that’s heard by some and not by others. In a standoff with the corrupt religious power brokers of his day, they ask Him, ‘tell us plainly – are you the Messiah?’ Jesus says that he’s told them – and they haven’t heard. He’s used words and He’s used deeds, but still, they just haven’t heard. Jesus says only his sheep hear his voice – and the reason they hear it is because they follow Him.

    We Christians like to think that we’re those sheep – as if we do such a great job hearing and heeding Jesus’ voice. But like the critics of Jesus’ day, and the adults who strain to hear high frequencies, we have to admit that we, too, have a hard time hearing His voice. We plead for healing and get no answer, we ask for guidance and we leave puzzled and depressed when it doesn't come, and we ask for a sign – any sign – then throw our arms up in frustration because we just can't see it.

    Then we note that Jesus makes this link between hearing and following – and it makes us pause to think about the depth of our own endeavor to follow: like the image above, if we draw closer to the voice, might we be able to improve our hearing? For we remember that following Jesus means putting aside our own road maps and our own personal priorities. It means allowing Him to take the reigns - and for us to grow in prayer and devotion and self-offering and drawing closer in the ways we know how, but may allowed to drift aside. For we understand quite naturally that if someone is speaking to us the only way to hear them better is to draw closer. What can we do in the week ahead to move closer to that voice?


    Reading
    The Five Most Important Questions – Peter Drucker
    The Faith of the Future – Harvey Cox
    Thieves in the Temple – G. Jeffrey MacDonald
  • Furnishing Our Souls

    Furnishing Our Souls


    In Alain de Botton’s fascinating collection of observations on the statements and meanings of aesthetics, called ‘The Architecture of Happiness,’ he seeks to remind us that where we are affects who we can be. de Botton strongly suggests that what surrounds us matters – and that we do well to choose our surroundings fully conscious of the meanings they invoke. For example, the self-image of one raised in an overcrowded and run down orphanage will drastically differ from that of a youngster raised in a place like the Le Corbusier home above where great care has been taken in tending to home and garden. Sure educational, recreational and social opportunities all play enormous parts, but the continual contact with forms, images and spaces that bespeak great possibility also has great impact of its own.

    Just as architecture seeks to invoke a state of the soul, so too does Christianity. However it is the furniture of the heart to which Jesus pays special attention and the great spiritual writers of the ages have encouraged. In writing to the church in Philippi, the apostle Paul urges, “Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” Passages like this remind us that the interior aesthetic has a potential of its own to form and shape our lives. While we all dwell in homes, on blocks and in neighborhoods that bespeak status, safety, beauty and possibility, the make-up of our interiority can, ultimately, play an even more important role.

    This resonated anew with me as I was reading the results of a recent World Values Survey, which is conducted every four years by a non-profit led by a University of Michigan professor. These studies gauge the happiness of people in different countries. And it is curious to observe that the nations that dominate this list are not first-world countries flush with wealth or even known for great architecture - Nigeria, Mexico, Venezuela, El Salvador and Puerto Rico round out the top five. In fact, the world’s richest country, our beloved U.S., ranked 16th, behind countries like India, Ghana and Croatia.

    This brought two things to mind. First, the concluding chapter in de Botton’s book, which ruminated on the purity and possibility of the unspoiled and the pure that every nation has on offer – the open field. The random beauty of nature’s unspoiled design offers a simplicity and inspiration all its own and given the economic restraints we all face, it also offers broad accessibility. Second, it brought to mind the critical interior aesthetics that influence the contentment of our souls. When we look at the priorities some nations place on family, community, deep relationships and free time it bespeaks an interiority of values and convictions with which the Bible finds resonance.

    As another Michigan spring unfurls in our midst, and we begin to venture out of our frosty hibernations, we do well to fill our surroundings both with our favorite manmade aesthetics as well as those of equal or greater value found in the nature that surrounds. Yet even more importantly, as Pentecost comes to us on May 23, we are reminded that the Holy Spirit that indwells each of us is nudging us anew to pay attention to the way we arrange the furniture of our hearts. In what ways are we conscious of the ways we are shaped? How might we do better at paying attention to the things that sculpt our souls? What aesthetics might we tap into that can truly nurture us and others?

    Reading
    The Architecture of Happiness - Alain de Botton
    Have a Little Faith – Mitch Albom
    The Five Most Important Questions – Peter Drucker
  • Doubting Thomas

    Doubting Thomas


    Where’s Doubting Thomas when you need him?

    Where was he on the board of Lehman Brothers when all that cosmetic accounting was going on?
    Where was he in all those bank branches when subprime mortgages were being handed out like ice cream at the day care?
    Where was Doubting Thomas in all those car dealerships, appliance stores, and rent-a-centers as the national savings rate turned negative and everyone just kept on buying?

    When William Shakespeare wrote that doubt is the beacon of the wise, he was touting the value of healthy skepticism – that voice inside each one of us that hesitates when something just doesn’t add up. The unfortunate side to Thomas’ story is that it has painted Christianity as a choice between faith and doubt. They’re seen as polar opposites: if Thomas had simply believed, checked his mind at the door, and blindly accepted the unreasonable he would have been commended and not singled out as the lone loser who has no faith.

    However, as Paul Tillich famously said, doubt is not the opposite of faith; it is one element of faith. And this is why I think the Church, down through the ages, has cherished Thomas and his story.

    Doubting Thomas stands in for all of us who certainly respect the claims, creeds and testimonies of others, but need a bit more before we’ll bite. Doubting Thomas shows us that the heart of the faith is not believing six impossible things before breakfast - but a personal encounter with the Numinous. Christianity is not about believing what the Church, the preacher, and even the Bible tells us – but it’s about meeting Christ in such a realistic and genuine manner that all we can say is, ‘My Lord and my God.’ As the old country preacher says, ‘God has no grandchildren, only children, whose challenge it is to discover faith on their own – to ask questions, search their heart, and find their own Thomas moment of belief.’

    Reading
    The Heart of Christianity – Marcus Borg
    The Architecture of Happiness – Alain de Botton
    Rediscovering Values – Jim Wallis
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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