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
  • Showing Up as Vocation

    Showing Up as Vocation


    The notion that that deadly Miami condominium collapse may not have been the fault of a terrorist or natural disaster - but of lax oversight by a volunteer condo committee, is enough to wake a lot of us up.

    I’m talking about anyone who's ever sat on a condo board, a neighborhood association, little league board, or a church vestry.

    All of a sudden our tedious, mundane, under-appreciated, and sometimes boring work can go way sideways. And we’re shown how critical it is for us to show up, time after time, with our game faces on.

    This is what made Jesus so remarkable.

    The essential element in his personal magnetism was his consuming focus, determination, sincerity, and overwhelming faith in the importance of his work.

    This guy showed up - always - which is what we see front and center in our gospel this Sunday.

    It’s the story of Jesus performing miracles everywhere but in his hometown, where no one believe in him.

    But despite this hiccup, Jesus went on.
    He tried something else.
    He sent his disciples.
    And they healed and cured.

    This notion of determination - of single-minded focus - is crucial because we’re always trying to shout down those voices of apathy and negativity - and we need to be reminded that our everyday, seemingly unimportant work - is much more important than we know - and we do not want a Miami condo disaster to be the only way we wake up to this.

    Which makes me wonder:
    What do I need to wake up? To perk up? To show up?
    How about you?

    How is this our spiritual vocation?

    How is Jesus asking us - and equipping us - to show up well-prepared and ready - and assuring us that, as much as anything else, this is our spiritual job and duty?

  • Jesus Can Turn Around Hopeless Situations

    Jesus Can Turn Around Hopeless Situations

     


    It was a hot and rainy night in New York City.

    The busses were running late.
    Harried, wet, and irritated riders were getting on, trudging through their evening commutes. People jostled for seats and elbowed for the best places to stand. Courtesy had given way to rudeness.
    Everybody noticed the air conditioning was broken.
    Nobody wanted to be there.

    Writer Elizabeth Gilbert was among them and tells of something magical that happened next.

    The bus driver made an announcement:
    “I know you all are hot and bothered that can’t get where you want to go on time. Y’all have a million things to worry about and this ride isn’t helping. But I want you to know we will get there - and when we get to your stop I am going to hold out my hand and as you leave - I want you to take your worries and put them in my hand. My route ends by the river and when I drive by I promise I’ll dump all those worries in the river.”

    Gilbert says some people laughed, some people ignored him, but when they exited, most people approached the bus driver, with his outstretched hand - and acted as if they were handing over their troubles. Some were playful and more than a few were seriously moved - even to tears - as that caring bus driver made a really lousy commute, unforgettable.

    On Sunday you and I will hear a well-known Bible story about two women whose suffering was much worse - and whose odds of getting better were much longer. But in both cases Jesus turned the tables - and brought relief and healing to the anxious and hurting.

    You and I come to Jesus with our own suffering - enduring our own kinds of pain -  troubled by world events, community injustices, personal failings and stuck in places we don’t want to be. 

    And like the bus driver, Jesus is not out to ignore us but to surprise us - stretching out his hand to bring us relief:

    Jesus can turn around hopeless situations.
  • Faith and Stress

    Faith and Stress

     


    My friend recently applied for a job as a hospital chaplain.

    In this day and age of scientific and technological advancement, when people are going to church less and trusting in human knowledge more, why are hospitals investing in improving the spirituality of their patients? Wouldn’t they do better to invest in labs and research?

    Actually, study after study shows that spirituality, and all that goes along with it, is as reliable and effective as exercise, eating right, and sleeping well as ways for patients to cope with and recuperate from sickness and injury. This is particularly true with stress.

    Our faith helps us cope with stress in a number of ways:

    • Knowing Christ gives us a sense of purpose in the world. We find meaning. And that helps us reach out and connect with the world in which we are called to work.
    • Our faith often leads us to church, and a network of support to enhance the good times and help us get through the hard times.
    • Our faith also asks us to release control. Time and again Jesus calls us to hand our burdens over to him, and scripture is clear in promising us that God will care for us.

    On Sunday we will hear the familiar story of Jesus asleep in a boat during a storm. Jesus, surrounded by panicked disciples, he asks them, 'Why are you afraid? Have you no faith?’

    Hmmm… is fear tied to faith?
    If we build our faith can we lessen our fear - and our stress?

    In tying anxiety to faith Jesus suggests that deepening our spirituality reduces stress, which sounds a bit like something scientists have subsequently proven.

    So if taking steps toward deepening our spirituality is so good for us, why don't we do more of it?

     This is our challenge, our mission, and our call.

    How might we look to the coming weeks and months to deepen our faith?
  • The Stories We Tell Ourselves

    The Stories We Tell Ourselves

     


    When my friend Ed was 11 years old he decided to climb out his bedroom window with his cousin and sit on the roof.

    Arriving home, his mother and aunt pulled up in the front driveway, gazed up at the roof, and saw their two sons happily perched on the steep incline, nearly two stories above the concrete driveway.

    "Jacob, you get back into the house immediately!" Shouted Ed's aunt, as his embarrassed cousin scampered toward the open window, "Jacob, you could fall off that roof and break your neck in a heartbeat! What's gotten into your head?"

    That left Ed sitting alone on the roof as his mother looked up at him. He waved to her and then she asked nonchalantly, "Ed, where's your coat?"

    Of course I could have just told you that my friends' mother had a parenting style that encouraged independence and maturity, but chances are you will remember that lesson much better after hearing this story.

    In Sunday's gospel Jesus declares that he always told important lessons to his followers through parables, through stories.

    Human beings are narrative creatures, meaning makers, who look for patterns and get through life by imitation.

    Of course, the most important stories are the ones we tell ourselves.

    Psychologists say we're not very good at this. Many of us endure excessive stress because we tell ourselves we're not smart enough, good looking enough, talented enough, or rich enough, etc which leads to stories that add to our discontent.

    One of the fruits of the gospel is that it gives us much healthier, authentic, and more life-giving stories.

    Jesus tells us that we are light, we are salt, we are chosen, and we are adored. Our narrative is not one of defeat, condemnation, and damnation, but of abundance, caregiving, and provision.

    Our challenge, is to make God's story our story, to chase away that untruthful and false self-talk and work toward a more authentic depiction of our story as a people who live in God.

    Coming out of covid, we have a rare opportunity to make ourselves different, to live more fully into our authentic selves, as defined by the God of courage and love, not out of the fears and haunting frailties told us by our lesser angels.

    How might we choose this day, this week, this summer, to talk to ourselves more kindly and more truthfully, as we move to see ourselves as God sees us? 


  • Freedom from Illusion

    Freedom from Illusion

     


    How can we help long-time felons get paroled?

    This was the question a group of law students recently asked before forming an organization dedicated to helping inmates gain their freedom.

    Apparently there are a lot of inmates eligible for parole, but time and again they fail to get past parole boards because of inadequate preparation and poor interviewing skills. So this group of students arranged to coach eligible inmates during the weeks preceding their parole board interviews.

    But the students kept running into the same problem: time and again inmates refused to admit guilt or take real responsibility for their crimes. The students couldn’t understand that even in the face of overwhelming evidence of guilt, pride and years of telling themselves the same dubious story of Innocence had made it pretty much impossible for the inmates to change. And sympathetic parole boards, wanting simply to hear contrition and remorse, never did. So the next parole meeting was set for 5 years down the road and inmates were returned to their cells.

    It was Friedrich Nietzsche who said, "People don’t want to hear the truth because they don’t want their illusions destroyed."

    I wonder how often I buy into this.

    On Sunday we will hear Jesus talk about something similar. The topic is hell - and C.S. Lewis famously described it as a place we’d rather stay in than give up our illusions.

    But this is what the truth of the Gospel asks us to do.

    When I look at my stubborn beliefs and behaviors I can't help but wonder how much is illusion I’ve cultivated to make me feel safe, comfortable, and at peace. I wonder how much is really a prison that I desperately want to leave, but only if the change isn’t too painful.

    Admitting fault, owning mistakes, apologizing, and facing the music are things we all have trouble doing. And while they are often at the heart of what keeps us locked up, they are also the key to opening our prison doors.

    How is Jesus calling us to greater honesty and transparent self-evaluation?

    If the truth may hurt for a little while but a lie hurts forever, how are we being called to rip off the band-aid and embrace the freedom Jesus wants for us - and we want for ourselves? 
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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