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
  • Chocolate Covered Cherries

    Chocolate Covered Cherries


     A dear friend recently gave me a big box of assorted chocolates.


    I opened them up and offered them to the children. My daughter pointed to a square covered in dark chocolate drizzled with a white swirl and said, "What's inside that one dad?" I said, "I don't know."

    She then pointed to a rectangular, darker chocolate piece with sprinkles on top and asked, "What's inside that one?" I said, "I have no idea.”

    She then pointed to the shiny, round, milk chocolate dome that stands up above the others and asked, "What's inside that one dad?" Of course, that one I knew, that one is always the chocolate covered cherry.

    I often wish my life was like that, that people could see the outside and instantly know what's on the inside.

    If that were the case with us all then we would clearly see in one another the kindness, love, and good intentions that most people have and move through the world with. Too many times, of course, we come across much differently.

    Getting our outside to match our inside is one of the most important goals of the Christian journey. How do we become more authentically ourselves? How do we let the love, generosity, kindness, and hospitality of God that is in each one of our hearts, become the most obvious thing about us?

    We get some insight in Sunday's gospel. We will hear Jesus use that famous analogy about God being the vine and us being the branches - and that our thriving has everything to do with how well connected we are with the vine.

    Jesus will use a distinctive Bible word, abide, to communicate the secret to authentic living: the more we abide, marinate in, surround ourselves with, make a bigger part of our lives, the words and teachings of Jesus, the more we will thrive and grow and change. We will bear fruit. And that fruit is love, kindness, forgiveness, encouragement, self-control, this kind of thing.

    Yes, when these kinds of things become our most obvious traits then our outside matches our inside - and people can see us for who we really are.

    Forget martyrdom, even sainthood, perhaps we’d all be better off trying to be chocolate covered cherries.
  • Today We Can Breathe

    Today We Can Breathe

     


    On Tuesday our nation breathed a collective sigh of relief as the jurors in the Derek Chavin case confirmed what we suspected: that the death of George Floyd, a black man, at the hands of Chauvin, a white former cop, was indeed as egregious and as illegal as we thought it was.

    There were cheers and signs of elation as thousands of blacks and others applauded this all too rare affirmation of justice in a case, that in years past and in all too many courtrooms, would not have yielded the same verdict.

    Theologian Theodore Parker famously said that the great moral arc of the universe bends towards justice, reminding us that the road toward a more equitable, just, therefore peaceful society, is a very long one.

    That the George Floyd case now means justice in particular will yield justice in general, is a conclusion none of us are reaching. What we are seeing is that our efforts, by speaking up, by speaking out, by standing up to unjust and inequitable laws and treatment, can yield fruit.

    It also means the reckoning must continue.

    Mr. Floyd’s death affirmed to privileged white men like me that the time is long past when I can look the other way or pretend we white men don’t see the systemic racism that benefits us. We must work to change systems. We must yield our privilege. We must, as Jesus commanded us, love our neighbors.

    The work cannot end until people of color can live freely and peacefully with no fear of the bias of racist law enforcement.

    This week’s hearing comes on the heels of a racial audit of our beloved Episcopal Church’s leadership. Here we learn that our majority-white denomination has a long way to go. The report makes recommendations for steps we can take to help our church get better - like advocating for justice when we see injustice, looking carefully at our lives to see what changes we might make, and being that brave person who objects to a racist joke, speaks out, or intervenes when we see a risk of discrimination or harm.
     
    It was George Floyd's murder that inspired our congregation to take the issue of racial equity more seriously, to read books, to sponsor movies, to hold regular discussions - and I hope you will continue to join us in the work - because none of us changes our mimds on important things very quickly.

    So let this week's verdict be a cause for celebration, a cause for inspiration, and something we can look to as progress in a society where so much remains broken, indeed, we cannot breathe fully or easily until we alll can breathe fully and easily.

    As our Prayer Book invites us to do, Let us pray.
     
    Grant, O God, that your holy and life-giving Spirit may so move every human heart and especially the hearts of the people of this land, that barriers which divide us may crumble, suspicions disappear, and hatreds cease; that our divisions being healed, we may live in justice and peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. (BCP 823)
  • If We Can’t Make Things Right, We Can Make Things Better

    If We Can’t Make Things Right, We Can Make Things Better

     


    Another week another accidental killing.

    At least that’s what the white police officer in Minneapolis would have us believe after she says she mistook her handgun for a Taser before she shot and killed an unarmed black man.

    I don’t know how that happens, but I do know what it’s like to make big, regretful mistakes.

    I do know that, as police put up barricades around her house in expectation of a vengeful mob that won’t be very forgiving - that officer, now in the throes of the biggest trauma of her life, will have one of the biggest challenges of her life in her quest for forgiveness and making things right.

    In this third week of Easter we are going to hear Jesus tell his followers to go out and proclaim forgiveness and hope for a world full of broken police officers like this one.

    Jesus knows how you and I grieve and mourn for those we've harmed, and pray for their well-being - and how we, beat up, penalize, and punish ourselves for the mistakes we’ve made.

    The good word from Jesus is that pain and suffering is not the end of the story. We can help make things right. We can be forgiven. We can get through this.

    By following Jesus, over time, as we embrace the reality of love in us and in God, we can find ways to help those we've harmed, to cope, carry on, and even come to believe that we are lovable - and capable of love - even in light of the big trouble we’ve caused.

    This is ‘good news’ because you and I suffer too much from the fallout of our mistakes - aside from the damage we've caused, the people we’ve harmed - we talk cruelly to ourselves, get frustrated, fed up, and get mad at others because we’re mad at ourselves.

    Jesus shows us how to give it all to God, to call on that ‘higher power’ - admitting we can’t do it on our own.

    And when we do that, we see that we can be forgiven, by God, by ourselves, and maybe even find the courage to say we’re sorry to those we’ve hurt, as we work to fix what we've broken and pray for their forgiveness as well.

    So who have we hurt?
    How can we make it right?
    How can we give it to God?
    How can we embrace forgiveness - for others and for ourselves?

    If we can’t make things right, we can make things better.

    This is our Easter challenge, this is our Easter gift. 
  • Pain and Purpose

    Pain and Purpose


    I have a friend who lost her son in a firearms accident.

    Both her children were looking at a new rifle that one of them had purchased when the gun went off, killing one child, and sending the other child and his parents into an abyss of unimaginable grief.

    It was from the cell block of this sadness that she wrote, detailing what had happened and expressing the depth of her family's sadness.

    As a byproduct of love, grief is not something we cure, but something with which we cope. And so my words to her were much along these lines, laced with encouragement, hope, and concern, for no one can bring her son back, make the accident go away, or otherwise fix it.

    This Sunday you and I will hear the story of one of Jesus's post-resurrection appearances. This one famously stars the apostle Thomas who's best known by his first name, Doubting,

    In this story Jesus appears to the apostles, who are hidden behind closed doors, rapt in their own anxiety, pain, and mourning over the crucifixion.  And Jesus mysteriously appears to them and tells them, more than once, "Peace be with you."

    We notice that Jesus does not then go out and magically vanquish the Romans and their occupation - nor does he rid the land of corrupt religious leaders - Jesus' solution is to simply offer his followers his presence in the midst of brokenness - his presence of peace.

    As we you and I experience life's trauma and life's pain, and as we come out of this lengthy, devastating, period of COVID, our prayers may also resemble a yearning for what we've missed, a restoration of what's been taken away. 

    But we soon realize, things can't be fixed, the clock can't be turned back, we simply have to develop new ways of coping, and at the heart of that is Jesus and the peace he offers by trusting in him.

    My friend's son is not coming back, at least to this world anytime soon, but Jesus remains, and in him there is the newness of resurrection, a new way of being in the world, that promises fulfillment of its own. 

    The irony of trauma, is that these things that most devastate us are the things that  most shape us - and more times than not - they make us better people - more understanding, more empathetic, more aware of the fragility, and hence the value, of our lives.

    So let us not fear too much for what has been lost, but like Thomas, exclaim. "My Lord and my God," in faith that the resurrected One has plans for us that are needful for the world - and that promise fulfillment of their own.
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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