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
  • Lord, Make Us Weep

    Lord, Make Us Weep


    My friend Phil is bummed.

    When we talked on the phone this week nearly the entire conversation was about his 12-year-old daughter's volleyball tryouts. Apparently, in his community, this is the time of year when girls try out for volleyball teams. Unfortunately, Phil's daughter has a shoulder injury that's sidelined her from several of these tryouts.

    "My daughter is really disappointed, and discouraged, because volleyball is a big part of her life." says Phil, “And her sadness has the whole house feeling the pain."

    I want to both commend and copy Phil.

    After all, aren’t we in desperate need of empathy - sure, for our families and our friends - but also for mourners in Pittsburgh, and for a caravan of Central Americans fleeing their homeland for a new life.

    On Sunday, we’ll meet some of Jesus’ friends who are also in pain.
    Their friend Lazarus has just died.
    Mind you, Jesus is about to raise Lazarus from the dead, but nobody knows that yet
    What they do know is pain, because a friend is dead.

    So what does Jesus do?
    He meets them - he listens to them - then he sits with them in their sadness and pain - Jesus wept because his friends, who were mourning the loss of their beloved, wept.

    So I have to ask myself: how much am I weeping?

    Is Tree of Life enough? What about Charleston - or Newtown? Or a host of other schools and houses of worship that we’ve only heard of because of gun violence?

    These things seem to happen so often that I become numb to their pain! And I don't like that about myself.

    The tough question is gun safety and mental health treatment - the hard answer is that it starts with me - specifically the empathy I can engender toward those who are suffering.

    Change will not happen unless we begin to develop deeper compassion and empathy.

    How much am I going to allow these devastating losses to affect me?
    Will I look at a candidate’s voting record on gun and mental health issues - will it make a difference?
    Will I go to a vigil or attend a rally?
    - or even send a card to someone affected?

    How I'd really like to blame other people for this senseless pain and suffering - but I find it difficult to start with anyone other than myself.

    And that means asking Jesus: Can you give me some of your empathy? I want to be like you, and so I want your compassion and your deep sense of the pain and suffering of others. 

    It's because I suspect this is where the solution's going to come from; each one of us feeling each other's pain, walking a mile in their shoes, more deeply understanding the plight of the suffering.

    That's a good prayer - Lord, make us weep for the things that make you weep. 
  • Resolution of Support and Denunciation of the Violence at a Pittsburgh Synagogue

    Resolution of Support and Denunciation of the Violence at a Pittsburgh Synagogue



    We, the clergy of Lift Up Southfield!, an interfaith community of Southfield congregations, pray for the victims and families affected by the massacre at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, PA and roundly denounce the violence which occurred as innocent worshippers gathered for Shabbat services on October 27.

    The murder of eleven people and wounding of many more have broken the hearts of faithful people of all walks of life, but our souls, our beliefs, and our shared unity of purpose remain unshaken.

    As representatives of many faiths we share values shaped by our holy texts — all of which command us to revere life. And we recognize that an attack against anyone, particularly who’s practicing their constitutional right to freely worship, is an attack on all people of good will.

    We further denounce the current political climate of polarization, prejudice, and xenophobia, which is now so rampant in our country. We will not stand by idly and allow forces of hatred and bigotry go unchallenged.

    In solidarity, we commend the interfaith community of Pittsburgh, more than a thousand of whom gathered shortly after the shootings, to demonstrate their love for and mutual support of their Jewish neighbors during this tragic time.

    We commit to embodying these ideals by drawing closer to one another and by urging all peoples and communities of faith in Southfield and Metro Detroit to do so as well.

    The Very Rev. Chris Yaw – St. David’s Episcopal Church
    The Rev. Kimi Riegel – Northwest Unitarian Universalist Church
    Pastor Jill Heather – Emmanuel Lutheran Church
    The Rev. Theodore Turman – First Baptist Church of Detroit
    Rabbi Aaron Starr – Congregation Shaarey Zedek
    Fr. Jeffrey Scheeler, OFM - Catholic Church of the Transfiguration
    Fr. Jeremy Harrington, OFM – Catholic Church of the Transfiguration
    Very Rev. Fr. Aren Jebejian – St. John’s Armenian Orthodox Church
    Rev. Fr. Armash Bagdasarian - St. John’s Armenian Orthodox Church

  • The Stakes Are Too High...

    The Stakes Are Too High...


    The midterm elections are just around the corner, and many experts are predicting high voter turnout. When you hear that - what does it mean? 
    Believe it or not it means that the percentage of those eligible to vote will be near 50%. That's right half of the people who are eligible to vote, won't vote.

    This is a well-known phenomenon in our country. 
    Some blame voter apathy, which means people don't care. 
    Others blame voter alienation, these people don't believe they'll be counted. 
    And others blame voter exhaustion: too many elections and too much politics to deal with.

    But whatever the reason, there’s an overriding feeling of discouragement and apathy that takes the day - that lingers over much of our modern landscape - that getting out and voting isn’t worth the trouble because things just aren’t going to change.

    And this pervasive feeling of apathy leads to the tragedy that you and I lament as we hear of friends becoming more and more anxious, depressed, and even, as I’m sure it’s hit your life -  people taking their own lives. These depressing feelings of disappointment and darkness are literally of life and death importance.

    This is a big reason I I am so fond of a Bible character that we will meet on Sunday named blind Bartimaeus. This is a blind beggar sitting by the side of the road who had every reason to believe that his lot in life would not be changed - that he would have to endure a lifetime of disappointment and discouragement.

    But Bartimaeus did not let discouragement define him - he knew that of all the things in his life he could not change - he could change one: his attitude.

    He persisted in a belief that the depression around him did not have to define him - he did not have to live as a victim - that his condition could be improved - that the impossible could happen.

    Every one of us has something in our lives that runs parallel to this. There is some area in which we have lost hope, have become discouraged, and feel there is nothing that can be done to improve things.

    Into this realm comes Jesus. At the heart of the story of blind Bartimaeus is hope and possibility - by healing Bartimaeus Jesus showed us that even so-called ‘lost causes’ are not lost.

    Friends, like Bartimeaus there is so much about our situations that we seemingly can't change, our work, our families, our health, our political landscape, but one thing we can always change is our attitude, the way that we choose to look at the cards we've been dealt.

    I think Jesus wants us to change the things we can change, and leave the rest up to him. This is how we open ourselves up for the miraculous, we refuse to take on the negativity, the discouragement, even the nihilism that surrounds us - 

    I think Jesus wants us to make our desires known - and give us strength to stand up, speak up, ask, aggravate, cause a ruckus -  and demand action.

    Friends, the stakes are too high for us who have hope, not to use it.
    We can make a difference - 
    No situation is hopeless -
    For we serve a God for whom nothing is impossible.

    I hope we all become like Bartimaeus and have our eyes opened to a vision of Jesus who bids us all to dream bigger, accept possibility, and to take up our mats and follow him to do the important work of hopefulness and encouragement that’s before us. 
  • How to Deal with Envy

    How to Deal with Envy


    There's a certain person in my field that I really envy.

    He's an engaging public speaker, a prolific writer, and every time I turn around, it seems, he has a new, creative idea, that turns into a magnificent project.

    I will read his books, or hear him speak, and think, boy, what a gifted and creative person. Try as I might, I cannot write, talk, or generate the kind or the quality of work that he does. So all I'm left with, is envy.

    Of all the seven cardinal sins, Envy is the only one that doesn't have some sort of consolation. I mean, if I were a glutton, at least I would be able to eat good steaks. if I were slothful, at least I get to sleep in, Etc. The problem with Envy, is it that's all you get.

    However, I do get one thing, one thing, that is enough to redeem all of those sad thoughts of envy.

    In Sunday's gospel, we will hear about two of Jesus's disciples, James and John as they become enticed by Envy and selfish ambition. Jesus will use this opportunity to remind us disciples of the importance of humility, service, and living lives that value our position in the eyes of God more than in the eyes of the world.

    When I feel envious, I'm reminded of how God gives gifts to God's people. Everyone is different, because there's a whole lot of repair that needs to be done around here. And when I hear a compelling talk, or read an inspiring book, instead of spending too much time envying the speaker or the author, I try to double down on the unique gifts that God has given me. 

    Sure, they may not be the gifts I wish I had, but that's not up to me to decide, thank God - they are the gifts that God has decided to give me, and the best thing I can do with them is use those for God's glory.
    So the next time you're feeling envious, don't let it get you down - use it to lift you up, to a deeper realization and awareness that you are God's beloved, doing an important piece of God's work that only you can do. Be confident in who you are, and whose you are, because God is probably using us more than we know.
  • Take the Tough Road

    Take the Tough Road


    I have a friend who runs 10K road races.

    He takes them very seriously - and whenever he finishes a race and does not collapse at the Finish Line, he gets upset with himself.

    He believes that unless he exerts himself 100%, he is not taking the race seriously and giving his best.

    I suspect more people admire his dedication than imitate his approach. 
    And it comes to mind as you and I consider our life’s goal of following Jesus.

    Like my friend's 10K running strategy, I have to ask myself how seriously I am following Jesus if it does not include some sort of measurable indicator of discomfort, inconvenience, and fear of the unknown.

    This weekend our Gospel will ask us to consider the story of a rich young man who was obedient to all of the pious rules of the Bible yet did not follow Jesus because of the high value he put on comfort, security, and convenience.

    Every moment we spend with someone who’s hard to be with- 
    Give money to a worthy cause instead of spending it on ourselves-
    Care for someone who’s difficult to care for - 
    We walk farther down that road of discipleship -

    What’s the tough road for you and me today?
    Are we avoiding it - or embracing it?

    Jesus will give us the grace to choose the difficult road - 

    For He walks with us every step of the way. 
  • The Lumpy Road of Marriage

    The Lumpy Road of Marriage


    Corpus Christi, Texas has the lumpiest roads I’ve ever seen.

    The geology of the area, which is rich in petroleum, makes for a really unbalanced surface. This means that roads and sidewalks that looked perfectly smooth when they were installed almost immediately begin to undulate, crack, and buckle. Imagine building a road on a giant, slow-moving waterbed.

    Of course, since people have to live there, roads, sidewalks, and buildings must be built. This means foundation cracks and broken roads are just a part of daily life.

    So let’s talk about marriage and the Bible.

    Much of the Bible assumes that a man may have several wives. He may take on concubines. If a wife fails to bear children, he may seek out another woman to do so.
    Any number of the Bible’s heroes fall into this category, including Abraham, Jacob, David, and Solomon.
    In the New Testament St. Paul, who said more about marriage than any other Bible writer, was really no big fan of matrimony. He thought it a distraction and a panacea for the weak, saying, ‘those who marry will experience distress in life and I would spare you that.’ (1 Cor. 7:26)

    Adding to the conversation are Jesus’ harsh and difficult words in Matthew and Mark (whose version we will hear Sunday) ‘whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her; and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery.’ (Mark 10:11-12)

    From the Biblical witness then, we, the faithful, try to figure out God’s wisdom about how men and women are to unite, and as they’ve been doing since the beginning, divide. In doing so I often feel like we’re trying to build a road in Corpus Christi.

    Let’s face it, everyone we know has been touched by divorce - and passages like this often bring up feelings of failure, guilt, and unforgiveness. Did Jesus really intend to further injure the victims of divorce? Is the Bible given to us to afflict us or to heal us? 

    Or are these words of judgment best understood in a culture and context two thousand years removed - one that has seen a shift in the landscape of coupling more dramatically than ever now that greater liberation for women and same gender marriage are, thankfully, in the picture? 

    Last week we dealt with another difficult text, in which Jesus suggested that if hands, feet, and eyes kept us from following God’s path they should be severed and plucked out. Just as that text must be understood in its context and with the understanding that there is underlying truth to harvest - so must Jesus words on marriage and divorce. 

    Two thousand years ago the women of Ancient Judea were chattel. Divorce for most was social ostracism at best, a life of prostitution at worst. Telling men not to discard their wives was a way for Jesus to do what he always does: stick up for the vulnerable and marginalized.

    Certainly there is wisdom in Jesus’ words for us today; marriage is serious, sobering, between two adults, and never to be taken lightly. It asks us to embrace maturity by leaving behind our parents and creating a new family. And he hints at the serious debilitation of adultery.


    At issue here is the very real understanding of the fluidity of marriage relationships through time, the unchanging and underlying virtues meant to be upheld, and the self-forgiveness and grace we accept from God when we take the Bible less literally and more seriously. We do well to look for the light that comes through the cracks of broken marriages, knowing that God is not only with us, but working through every single thing that happens in our lives, both the wholeness and brokenness, as important aspects of life's journey which can hopefully be used to become even better followers of Our Risen Savior.
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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