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
  • Imagination is Better than Knowledge

    Imagination is Better than Knowledge



    Not long ago, on a chartered sailing trip with some friends, we stood watching the sunset on the deck, gentle wind blowing, and the rhythmic sound of water hitting the bow. That’s when my friend Tony said, ‘This is absolute paradise, life doesn’t get any better than this. I’m going to buy a boat.’ And sure enough, within a few years, Tony had a boat.

    When I visited him last he invited me down to the dock to see it. When I arrived Tony was busy scrubbing the deck. While we talked, he also coiled rope, buffed the brass, then swept the galley. In fact, soon Tony had me working. And as the afternoon progressed, I finally asked him, ‘It must be so great having this boat - experiencing the wide open water, the motion of the waves, the peace, and solitude - when are we going to take the boat out?’ ‘What?’ he said, somewhat preoccupied with the task at hand, ‘I don’t have any time to think about that, I haven’t taken this boat out for 2 years.’

    In Sunday’s Gospel Jesus is confronted with the religious elite whose pious faith has turned them into dock-scrubbing workaholics who have lost sight of the possibilities that their faith might otherwise bring.  As they begin to follow Jesus, it becomes apparent they have lost their foresight and imagination - and cannot manage to ask God’s son about anything more substantial than whether or not his disciples wash their hands before dinner. Their religion is regimen, their spiritual practices are little more than going through the motions.

    This interaction carries a special lesson for all of us who attend churches with a fair amount of ritual. We are to take care that our religious practices don’t turn into busywork. We must be intentional that our traditions and liturgies point us to deeper interaction with God - enabling us to ask real questions, ‘What are you up to in my life? How are you present? How are you guiding?’

    Einstein famously said that imagination is better than knowledge. I think he meant that our preoccupation with things we can understand must never trump the amazing ability we have to imagine the things we can't.

    How are we falling prey to this today? Are we too busy with the daily struggle to imagine that God’s word of provision and sustenance could possibly win the day? Are we so preoccupied with a routine that our hope is drastically limited? How might we step back and imagine that God really does care, really will provide for all of our needs, and wants to bless us more than we can imagine?

    Reading
    The Last Stand - Nathaniel Philbrick
    The Good of Affluence - John Schneider
    Becoming a Blessed Church - N. Graham Standish
  • The Road

    The Road



    Take a look at this photo.

    There is fog in the road.

    The road is wet (dangerous), poorly lit (more dangerous), and unmarked (hmmm).

    So that there’s no telling where it all leads.

    You may have seen a road like this before.

    You may be on one now.

    Actually we all are.

    In Sunday’s Gospel we see this is exactly where those first disciples were. The poorly defined road ahead was where they found themselves as Jesus preached in John 6. He told them it was difficult, full of danger, and fraught with peril. And even though he assured them he would be with them, they were unsettled. It’s no wonder most of them called it quits. They looked ahead to the difficulty, the confusion, the utter madness of following further along the road of discipleship, and so they packed it up, turned around, and left.

    All but St. Peter.

    He saw more to this road than the others. He saw light. He saw the source of light. He knew that to go back was to take an even more perilous route. “Lord, to whom can we go?” he asked, “You have the words of eternal life.”

    And so he went forward.

    Just as you and I are called to do.

    And when we think about it, that really is the only way.

    Each one of us stands at the crossroads. Every moment of every day. We can either walk toward him or away from him. Which way are we going? Which way will we go? Where else can we go?
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    Reading
    The Other Side of the City – Ed McBain
    The Poisonwood Bible – Barbara Kingsolver
    The Good of Affluence – John Schneider
    Switch – Heath Brothers


  • The Next Stop

    The Next Stop



    Every morning when I awaken my oldest child, hand him his juice bottle, and open the curtains, he asks me, ‘What are we doing today?’ At first, I began to describe in detail what the new day would hold. When he was younger, he would take it all in, then assume his favorite prone position to finish off his juice, then sit on my lap before going to breakfast.

    However, about halfway into toddler-hood, that all changed. When he would ask me what the day ahead held, no matter what my answer, from a visit to the pool, to pancakes with purple elephants, he would throw an absolute fit. Sometimes small, often large but always making clear that this was not something he wanted to do.

    Nearly every parent knows that when children reach two and three years old they throw a fair number of tantrums. Some doctors say it’s because children cannot yet communicate or process the complex thoughts and curiosities that are going through their minds, and the resulting overload translates into incredible frustration that regularly takes the form of screaming, crying, and kicking.

    What eventually curbed these ‘What are we doing? Where are we going?’ tantrums was the answer my wife and I began giving. Instead of literally answering what the day or journey ahead held for our little one, we have gotten into the habit of simply saying, ‘We’re going to the next stop.’ This answer regularly and surprisingly pacifies him.  Apparently he really doesn’t want all the details – they’re too confusing – he simply wants to know that we’re headed someplace, and the details will take care of themselves.

    When you and I look at the complexities and curiosities that fill our lives – that frustrate and overload us, we are not much different than the little people at the day care. We too can become overwhelmed to the point of lashing out in adult tantrums of various forms as we obsess over the same details regarding the journey that awaits us.

    I often wonder if God’s preferred answer to you and me isn’t also, ‘The next stop.’

    When we obsess over the ‘What are we doing? Where are we going?’ questions, and we search for details that will only confuse, aggravate, and irritate us we desperately need God’s reminders that we are in God’s hands and that all will be revealed in time. We need to recall that God is present in every moment of our lives saying things like, ‘Do not worry about what you will eat, what you will wear, or where you will sleep, for your heavenly father knows all of these things. Today’s worries are enough for today. Concentrate, then, on the things right before you, for I am the only One who knows what awaits you and I will be there right beside you to walk with you, equipping and fortifying you, for there is no place you can go where I am not. So relax, and follow me to the next stop.’

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    Reading
    The Poisonwood Bible – Barbara Kingsolver
    The Life and Death of Great American Cities – Jane Jacobs
    A History of Anxiety – Patricia Pearson
  • God Wants Us to Be Us

    God Wants Us to Be Us


    Dressed up as a fledgling John the Baptist, I was stumbling through my role in this week's Vacation Bible School with a floor length tunic and rope belt in the overheated vestibule cum Banks-of-the-River-Jordan when I asked the two dozen children about how we prepare the way for Jesus - and more specifically, 'What does God want from us?'

    It was young Cameron McReady who spoke up and said, 'I think God wants us to be us.'

    From the mouth of babes....

    Sure, many of the kids said, 'Jesus wants us to be nice,' 'Jesus wants us to share,' even 'Jesus wants us to love our mommies and daddies.' But nothing went quite as deep as Cameron's answer - which speaks to the heart of our own self-fulfillment and purpose, not to mention the Gospel.

    After all, don't we often live as if our job was to please God by saying and doing the right thing? As if our 'works' were the basis of God's love for us. When we know deep inside, like Cameron, that the Christian quest is to live out our unique gifts and calling in the light of His love - and to love and accept ourselves just the way we are - because that's what God does.

    In what ways are we relying on our behaviors and attitudes to earn God's favor? How are we looking at the things around us as random and capricious - as if God were not there - when we know that God is here - and that by putting our trust in Him, we are as loved as we'll ever be just for who we are?

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    Reading
    The Good of Affluence - John Schneider
    The Poisonwood Bible - Barbara Kingsolver
    Leaving Church - Barbara Brown Taylor
  • Sell Them What They Want, Give Them What They Need

    Sell Them What They Want, Give Them What They Need



    A friend of mine runs a company that sells online advertising.
    All day long he dreams up campaigns that bring more customers to his clients’ websites. He’s very good at it, and so we often talk about his secrets for success. He says he designs campaigns and pitches that keep one important thing in mind:

    He sells people what they want, but gives them what then need.

    My friend says that people really aren’t interested in buying what they need. Take weight loss programs. If the :30 second TV spot featured groggy-eyed overweight people struggling to wake up an hour early to get to the gym they probably wouldn’t be very effective. Instead, these ads are filled with trim, energetic, young, specimens of health frolicking through their workouts. That’s because what most customers want is to be trim, energetic, and healthy – but what they need is the discipline to follow a fitness regimen.

    In Sunday’s gospel, Jesus faces a crowd that wants something. They have seen Him multiply the loaves and fishes, have followed him across the countryside, and now they want more food and miracles. Jesus sees what they want, and offers them what they need: The Bread of Life that comes down from the Father.

    Of course, the crowd has a hard time understanding – and we do too: why can’t Jesus simply give us what we want? We all want to be fed - we want our appetites for shelter, security, love, meaning, healing, and self-fulfilment met. So we strive very hard for these things, yet it often seems like God’s not paying much attention.

    It’s as if Jesus is saying that these things may be what we want, but they’re not what we need.

    What we need is deeper unity with God.
    What we need is to surrender our own control.
    What we need is to rely more deeply on the Spirit who assures us that everything is going to be OK.

    As another Gospel writer put it - what we need is to seek first the kingdom of God, and all these things will be taken care of.

    So what are some ways we might we go about parsing our wants from our needs? What steps might we take to partake more fully in the Bread of Life? What do we need to let go of, to grab hold of God?

    ------------------
    Reading
    The Poisonwood Bible – Barbara Kingsolver
    Goodbye to a River – John Graves
    Leaving Church – Barbara Brown Taylor
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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