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Yogi Berra and Interpreting the Gospel

yogi

 “Baseball is 90 percent mental. The other half is physical.”

 “I usually take a two-hour nap, from one o’clock to four.”

 “You give a hundred percent in the first half of the game, and if that isn’t enough, in the second half you give what’s left.”

 “You can observe a lot by watching.”

 “A nickel ain’t worth a dime anymore.”

 “It’s déjà vu all over again.”

 My favorite:  “If you come to a fork in the road, take it.”

 Yogi is one of my favorite Yankees from days gone by.  I have his autograph hanging on my wall downstairs in the den.  Still, if you’ve ever heard him speak or read some of his quotes (like those above), you’ve probably wanted a translator and an interpreter.  It kind of reminds me of the story of Pentecost.  The Book of Acts says that the following were in Jerusalem on the Day of Pentecost:

 

 “Parthians, Medes, Elamites, and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabs ….”

 

 The Disciples spoke – the people listened – and the Holy Spirit translated.  It was amazing!  The story continues:

 

 “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each of us, in our own native language?”

 

So the first public miracle that Pentecost day was instant translation. 

 

But more was needed than just translation.  The text says, “All were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, ‘What does this mean?’” 

 

On that first Christian Pentecost, Peter was the one used by the Holy Spirit to be an interpreter – the one who answered the question about the meaning of the translation.  He addressed the people and told them about Jesus and about salvation.

 

 For the church to grow – for the Kingdom to be Advanced – for the Gospel to be made real in people’s lives, both translation and interpretation are needed. 

 

 We need to have the words translated – into all the languages and dialects of the world. 

We need it translated into the common vernacular of everyday men and women.

 

 At Patterson Avenue Baptist, we help sponsor (by providing space, friendship, and support) a Korean congregation.  My dear friend James Kim is the pastor.  The sacred text that I read from, and that he reads from, are both translations from the Arabic, Hebrew, and Greek.

 

 Translations into Korean, English, etc. all bring us the words of sacred text.

But the words are not enough without interpretation.  That’s also the ongoing work of the Holy Spirit.  What does the text mean – here, now, today, in my church, in Pastor’s James church, in the church down the road, across the continent, or on the other side of the globe? 

 

 Who are the interpreters?  Preachers, missionaries, theologians, scholars, etc.  Sure – they have a big part in the process. 

 

 That said – YOU are the front line interpreters. 

 

 There are always people who say, “Look, I understand what Christianity teaches, but so what? Why should I buy into it?” 

 

 Interpreters are people like you who are convinced about the great value of Christ in your life, and can therefore answer the “What does the text mean?” question from personal experience.

 

 Your life and witness individually and as a church will interpret some version of Christianity to another person today.  You  might not be able to translate – but your love, presence, prayers, snacks, and child-care support WILL INTERPRET Christianity. 

 

 I heard this poem when I was a young person, and it hasn’t faded from memory since I first heard it.

You are writing a Gospel, a chapter each day,

 By the things that you do and the words that you say,

Folks read every word, whether faithless or true,

 

So tell me what is the Gospel according to you?”

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