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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Weddings Performed
  • Going Blind

    Going Blind



    A friend of mine is a weatherman.
    You should see his office.
    On one wall there’s a bank of computers.
    Another wall is filled with TV monitors that give him live shots of every part of town.
    He has these huge printers that are constantly churning out data-
    -forecasting models, dopler radar, National Weather Service alerts, and historic trending data-
    Everything chugs along with unbelievable efficiency until that one day, when the power surge hits, and the whole thing goes down.
    That’s because the one thing my friend the weatherman does not have in his office is a window.

    This Sunday we hear about something similar. We hear about religious experts, people who’ve dedicated their lives to knowing God, to following God, to setting up endless guidelines to keep them close to God. Yet we hear how, when the power surge comes, when their framework fries, they can’t tell that God almighty has shown up.

    It’s something that happens to us all – as we try to lead our lives dedicated to loving God and our neighbors. We form opinions, cultivate virtues, and get into habits. We do the best we can to make ourselves more aware of, and enhance this vision of eternal life, of boundless love that has embraced our hearts, of the utterly hopeful picture of life we’re given as disciples of Jesus.

    Yet, when the power surge hits – a divorce, job loss, bad investment, sickness, you name it – and these frameworks of church attendance, being a good person, or the number of times we’ve read the Bible are all we’ve got – this is when we, too, can lose faith. It’s because it’s not about the things that point us to God, it’s about God. It’s about that living, breathing relationship we have with Jesus.

    In what ways have we allowed our well-meaning habits, opinions, virtues, and practices to keep us from the heartbeat of God? And what do we need to do, in this Lenten season, to get back to it?

    Reading:
    The Last Train from Hiroshima – Charles Pellegrino
    The Celtic Way of Evangelism – George Hunter
    The Future of Faith – Harvey Cox
  • Belonging Comes Before Believing

    Belonging Comes Before Believing


    One of the scariest words in Christendom is ‘Evangelism’-
    Tainted as it is with notions of slick salesmanship, in which, the innocent and unsuspecting are hoodwinked by glad-handed, overly reassuring, questionably motivated Christians with seemingly permanent smiles plastered on their faces.

    Evangelism has become a word with such creepy overtones that even many Christians don’t like to use it.  But just as the remedy for bad theology is not no theology – it is good theology.  The same is true for evangelism.  And we get no better lesson in good evangelism than by this Sunday’s reading from John’s Gospel when Jesus meets a Samaritan woman at a well.

    ‘Give me a drink’ says Jesus, as he strikes up a conversation with a woman who will soon begin following Him.  This conversation goes on for some time, becoming one of the longest dialogs in the Gospels.  This is done on purpose: Jesus is building a relationship, making a friend, and will end up spending a few days in this woman’s village laying the foundation for a new community and winning an entire town over to follow Him.

    Not long ago the United Bible Societies polled 500 Christian converts – asking how they came to faith.  Researchers concluded that in most cases it wasn’t done overnight - that “belonging comes before believing.”  Establishing friendships, building community, is where faith takes root and grows.  The still-popular model of ‘Presentation, Decision, then Fellowship’ does not hold a candle to the format presented here by Jesus of ‘Fellowship, Conversation, then Commitment.’

    ‘Belonging comes before believing.’  That’s why many churches baptize babies, welcoming them into the fellowship of God’s people, nurturing them into community, believing that a time will come for adult commitment.

    People aren’t projects that serve as tallies on some TV preacher’s tote board.  People are a crown of creation, of inestimable worth, and value to God.  In what ways are we seeing our churches as sacred communities to show forth this love, compassion, and hospitality for those around us to come to know Jesus more deeply?  When was the last time we invited someone to experience our faith community?  Who might we bring to church, and deeper into relationship with Jesus, this weekend?

    Reading
    The Celtic Way of Evangelism – George Hunter
    Faith of the Future – Harvey Cox
    Radical – David Pratt
  • Belonging Comes Before Believing

    Belonging Comes Before Believing


    One of the scariest words in Christendom is ‘Evangelism’-
    Tainted as it is with notions of slick salesmanship, in which, the innocent and unsuspecting are hoodwinked by glad-handed, overly reassuring, questionably motivated Christians with seemingly permanent smiles plastered on their faces.

    Evangelism has become a word with such creepy overtones that even many Christians don’t like to use it.  But just as the remedy for bad theology is not no theology – it is good theology.  The same is true for evangelism.  And we get no better lesson in good evangelism than by this Sunday’s reading from John’s Gospel when Jesus meets a Samaritan woman at a well.

    ‘Give me a drink’ says Jesus, as he strikes up a conversation with a woman who will soon begin following Him.  This conversation goes on for some time, becoming one of the longest dialogs in the Gospels.  This is done on purpose: Jesus is building a relationship, making a friend, and will end up spending a few days in this woman’s village laying the foundation for a new community and winning an entire town over to follow Him.

    Not long ago the United Bible Societies polled 500 Christian converts – asking how they came to faith.  Researchers concluded that in most cases it wasn’t done overnight - that “belonging comes before believing.”  Establishing friendships, building community, is where faith takes root and grows.  The still-popular model of ‘Presentation, Decision, then Fellowship’ does not hold a candle to the format presented here by Jesus of ‘Fellowship, Conversation, then Commitment.’

    ‘Belonging comes before believing.’  That’s why many churches baptize babies, welcoming them into the fellowship of God’s people, nurturing them into community, believing that a time will come for adult commitment.

    People aren’t projects that serve as tallies on some TV preacher’s tote board.  People are a crown of creation, of inestimable worth, and value to God.  In what ways are we seeing our churches as sacred communities to show forth this love, compassion, and hospitality for those around us to come to know Jesus more deeply?  When was the last time we invited someone to experience our faith community?  Who might we bring to church, and deeper into relationship with Jesus, this weekend?

    Reading
    The Celtic Way of Evangelism – George Hunter
    Faith of the Future – Harvey Cox
    Radical – David Pratt
  • Don't Blame God for Japan's Earthquake

    Don't Blame God for Japan's Earthquake

    My friend Leah was talking with her pals the other day about the earthquake in Japan when one friend said, 'I think it's a sign that God is really mad at us.'


    I couldn't agree more with the sentiment that the Almighty looks down with distress at a world of devastating polarity between the few obscenely rich and the billions of desperately poor; the alarming proliferation of nuclear arms that gives us unprecedented power to kill, maim, and destroy; and the blatant disregard humanity has for the environment, which we continue to treat as a hotel room mess left for someone else to clean up.  However, the idea that God punishes imperfect behavior with a vengeance far worse than the most despicable Nazi prison guard is not only hard to swallow, but doesn't easily jibe with the biblical record.


    Leah has an adorable 3 year old who's a perfect angel most of the time, yet like all toddlers, has her moments.  When her disobedience turns to tantrums Leah's first reaction is to lovingly correct, and to take her  daughter into her open arms until a more suitable mode of behavior emerges.  And when that doesn't work the occasional Time Out, and even a spanking may result. To act otherwise, to even suggest a more effective course might be to smote, with even a fraction of the capricious force seen in an earthquake or tsunami, would be to condone child abuse of the worst kind.


    Let's be clear, God does not punish bad behavior with natural disasters any more than the Almighty rewards good behavior with winning lottery tickets, perfect health, jobs or marriages; "for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous" (Matt. 5:45).  It is understandable why the notion of God and retributive justice increases in appeal in the wake of unexplainable disasters (remember when Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell famously attributed some of the 9/11 terrorist actions to immoral behavior?).  Answers like this offer easy ways out of very complicated theological mazes, they try to provide answers to answerless questions.


    So why the earthquakes and tsunamis?
    Why the warrantless terror and suffering?
    Why the innocent deaths?
    We don't know.


    Our minds are simply not able to grasp the complexities of life's circumstances.  We are cats trying to learn algebra; puppies trying to comprehend Nietzsche.  We strive for answers too lofty and labyrinthine for our limited gifts.


    It is in times like this we may find it more helpful not to busy ourselves with the breadth of God's smiting hand, and instead look at depth of the Lord's hand of protection: that Tokyo, with its incredible dense population was relatively unscathed, that the devastation wasn't worse; and that compassion and mercy has been inspired from nearly every nation in the world, including China.  


    If God's love excels that of even the most doting parent, we may fairly conclude that such tragedy escapes our powers of reasoning, yet opens us up to be the hands and feet of the Almighty whose love and compassion has found a place in our hearts.  Let us live our faith in faith, believing that there is a purpose, and for now it is to help.


    Donate to help those in Japan via Episcopal Relief and Development today.

  • It Takes More Than Tiger Blood

    It Takes More Than Tiger Blood




    Individual exceptionalism- the temptation for us to think we are smarter, prettier, cooler, better, special. To think that by virtue of nothing more than our own natural awesomeness, we command more than others – more attention, more pay, more privilege, more power. It is one of the most attractive and deeply flawed beliefs we can entertain.

    Pride, the first sin, the deadliest sin, and today more common than cameramen in Charlie Sheen’s driveway - who’s the latest and most sorrowful example of the devil’s temptation, ‘If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down; for it is written; ‘His angels will catch you!’

    Because if we think this highly of ourselves – that we’re fireproof, immune to old age, cancer, divorce, bad luck - that there’s tiger blood flowing through our veins, then we are not downright delusional and living a fairy tale, but we are only opening ourselves up for a fall – which is something we all have in common with Charlie Sheen.

    The subtlety of pride doesn’t have us casting ourselves off mountains as much as it has us scanning the room behind the person we’re talking with, looking for someone more worthy of our time. Pride makes us take cuts, fib on our taxes, and talk more than listen - after all, my time, and my money, and my opinion are worth more than yours.

    That’s why we need the ashes of Wednesday and the kneelers on Lenten Sundays to bring us back to our senses – to help us do the reality check - to look deeply in the mirror at the lines and the bags and the flaws – so when Jesus says, ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test’ – we don’t even want to try. Lent asks us to ponder the thin line between confidence and arrogance as we claim our great worth-ship in Christ that sends us out into the world to clean the toilets.

    In what ways are we thinking too highly of ourselves? How might we use the 40 days of Lent as a reality check?


    Reading
    The Last Train from Hiroshima – Charles Pellegrino
    The Faith of the Future – Harvey Cox
    Fasting – Scot McKnight
  • Free to Fast

    Free to Fast


    Fasting is the most misunderstood spritual discipline.

    While it appears several times in Scripture, was practiced by David, Isaiah, John, Jesus, and Paul, its purpose is clothed in mystery and innuendo, rarely explained in ways that make sense to the modern Western mind.

    That is, before Scot McKnight's new book 'Fasting' came across my desk.

    McKnight defines fasting as, 'a natural response to a grievous, sacred moment.' In other words, it is what we naturally do in some instances - for example when a spouse dies, a child goes into the hospital, or we lose our jobs. These grievous, sacred moments frequently accompany a loss of appetite and/or attention to matters of such weight that we simply forget to eat. We already fast, we just don't call it that.

    Compare this to what we often call fasting - giving up chocolate, coffee, or Facebook, and we realize abstaining may be a better term.  Abstention is not bad, it is also a spiritual discipline, but it is not fasting.

    Now that Lent is upon us, and the challenge to partake in fasting (the Episcopal Church recommends members fast on this day and on Good Friday) McKnight has provided a good blueprint to challenge myself to fast not for myself, but for others for whom I am more deeply paying attention, ie Libyans being slaughtered, Haitians dying from curable diseases, and inner city kids joining gangs because there's no other family around. These are deeply grievous events, and our invitation to take on the burdens of those suffering during Lent couldn't be more helpful.

    Yes, I am a member of Booksneeze and have been compensated to review McKnight's book, but as many of you know that does not influence my review. What has influenced it is McKnight's clarity. While many people fast to get - a word from the Lord, direction, or a deeper sense of connection with Jesus - we cannot fast to get. We fast to give, by taking on the burdens of others and looking to improve their lot, not our own.

    If you are curious about fasting and are longing to understand it in a 20th century context, McKnight's book is an easy read, practical (there's a study guide in the back), and just may be what you've been looking for to help you redeem this ancient discipline for yourself.
  • Churches Age with their Founders

    Churches Age with their Founders



    "According to Rainer Research 70 percent of youth leave church by the time they are twenty-two years old. Barna Group estimates that 80 percent of those reared in the church will be ‘disengaged’ by the time they are twenty-nine years old." Drew Dycks, 'Generation Ex-Christian'


    Finally a couple of stats to back up what we've been noticing for some time : churches age with their founders.  So what  do we do to reverse this?  


    1) Understand them.  This 'lost' age group is not homogeneous.  There are several reasons they leave.  Check out this review of Dyck's book for a synopsis; http://tiny.cc/kspmc


    2) Realize that devout parents have devout children.  The best way to improve your kids spirituality may be to improve our own.


    3) Be intentional about keeping your kids.  Set up a group of people whose job it is to keep college kids connected: getting care packages at test time, emails/notes on the first day back, etc.  Love spans generations like nothing else.


    How (and how well) does your faith community pay attention to this age group?



  • Another World is Possible

    Another World is Possible



    The rebel cries for freedom, liberty, and a brand new world have been filing our TV screens for weeks – as the Middle East roils in confrontations between oppressive regimes and an energized populace that has grabbed a glimpse of the notion that another world is possible.

    Hope, longing, and desperation have taken to the streets – as change takes over changeless places, hope rises above hopeless places, and the possibility of potential – untapped and inert for so long – now brims and boils – and is turning the world into something brand new.

    1500 years ago a quiet, monkish, man from the wilderness now known as Wales took to this same notion.  David in our language, Dewi in theirs, caught the same wave, took on a mantle of leadership, and in a disorganized time, organized the heart and soul of a nation.

    Dewi’s deepest inspiration was the word of a Jewish peasant, 5 centuries before, who was so taken with the notion that another world, outside this one, was breaking through.  Jesus announced, to an oppressive, dangerous, and fragile world, that something was coming, and that people could help it along.   The great Shalom of a quiet, gentle, fair, and fulfilling age was here to trump corruption, oppression, and inequality.  Error could give way to truth, sin to righteous, life to death.

    Bringing that world into this one, as Dewi and his followers knew, means living in this world as if we were in that one – treating one another with honesty, respect, and dignity, striving for justice, fairness, equality, and oneness with God – because that’s what this new world is all about.  That is the world that is breaking into this one.  That is the world that is taking over this one.  That is Jesus’ world that has been prepared for us, as we prepare for it.

    Reading
    The Future of Faith – Harvey Cox
    Mark – N.T. Wright
    Mark – William Barclay
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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