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Reflections: With Yogi's help

by Pastor Fred Baltz (WordAlone board member, Galena, Illinois)

May 26, 2004

Yogi Berra admits, “I didn’t say everything I said.”

photo of Pr. Fred BaltzStill, many of his interesting expressions have found their way into common speech. They are called, “Yogi-isms.” While it’s true that Yogi-isms are not in the Bible, Jesus did a similar thing with talk of beams in eyes, leaving the dead to bury their dead, the first-shall-be-last riddle and more. Proverbs says, “Consider the ant.…” Jesus said, “Consider the lilies of the field.…”

Therefore we are probably on exegetically safe ground if we at least consider Yogi. Some examples of Yogi-isms follow, which can be useful in reflecting on where we are and where we are going.

“You can observe a lot by watching.”

Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) members are indeed observing a lot by watching The Episcopal Church USA (ECUSA) right now. The deluge of international turmoil the ECUSA brought upon itself with the approval of non-celibate gay Bishop Eugene Robinson has ELCA leaders realizing this could happen to us. Some ELCA leaders who have been advocates for ELCA change on gay issues, now ask whether the 2005 Churchwide Assembly should vote on such divisive issues as non-celibate gay ordination and the blessing of same-sex unions.

“The future ain’t what it used to be.”

People in the know predict one of two disasters in 2005 if the votes occur. Either the advocates for ELCA change on gay issues will consider themselves forced out of the church, or those opposed will. What happened to the days when seminary students looked forward to a life of ministry in a church they loved and presupposed to be stable and united? What happened to a church that looked to Scripture rather than culture for its direction? Can we ever have our former future back?

“It isn’t over until it’s over.”

Some say that affirmative votes in 2005 are a foregone conclusion. But who can say? There are reports of the election of traditional, biblical voting members to the Churchwide Assembly, specifically because of the questions before the church. On the other hand, there are reports of people elected because they stand for change. A lot can happen between now and then. It is not over.

“When you come to the fork in the road, take it.”

I’m told that when Yogi said this he was explaining how to find his house. He lived on a cul du sac. So, he was quite right to say what he did. This is but one example of what we all find sometimes in life: Something that makes no sense at first later does.

WordAlone members have patiently explained what’s wrong with Called to Common Mission, the full communion agreement with the ECUSA. They have been frustrated by what seems a stone wall set up against them by church leaders. They wonder why people don’t understand what is happening to the church, and why so many don’t seem to care, and why so many have not been told. Well, the people are beginning to see, and they are joining us.

What didn’t make sense before, now does. So take heart!

Questioner: “What time is it?”

Yogi: “You mean now?”

This is no time to give up! God calls us all to faithfulness! None of us knows what time it will be in 2005. Now? Now, it is time to organize new chapters and find ways to get word to friends and family members in other congregations.

Above all, it’s time to pray for the ELCA and its leaders.