Project Description




Easter 4B

Acts 4:8-12 / 1 John 3:1-2/ John 10:11-18

 

I want to tell you about a

new friend of mine,

I’m going call him. . .

“Sammy.”

 

I’ve known Sammy for

a couple of months now.

 

Our first encounter

was on a weeknight,

somewhere between

2 and 3 in the morning.

 

My cell phone rang. . .

it flashed a number from

Los Angeles, California.

 

“Could be a scam,” I thought. . .

 

or it could be a wrong number. . .

 

Or, it could be a student from Los Angeles. . .

 

or a family member of a parishioner. . .

who knows?

 

So, I push the green answer button. . .

And say. . .“Hello,”

 

And the voice from

the other end says,

 

“Steve Roberts. . .

Steve Roberts. . .

Are you. . .

Are you just a preacher. . .

or are you a real priest?”

 

“I’m a real priest,” I say.

 

“Well, Steve Roberts. . .

Steve Roberts. . .

can you help me.”

 

“What kind of help do you need, brother?”

 

“Can you. . .

Can you. . .help me?”. . .

 

“I’m scared!!!”. . .

 

“Can you make the

voices go away?”

 

I say “What voices?”

 

“The voices in my head,” the caller says.

“I’m so scared!!!”

 

Was this somebody pulling my leg?

 

I didn’t think so. . .

it hard to fake that kind of fear. . .

 

and just by his speech pattern. . .

 

he always says,

Steve Roberts. . .

Steve Roberts. . .

 

And he has such a hard time

getting his words out sometimes. . .

 

So I know there’s something wrong. . .

 

So, I inquire a little more.

 

I find out his name is Sammy. . .

and Sammy is from Los Angeles, California. . .

and Sammy lives in Los Angeles.

 

Somehow, he ended up

watching one of our lived-streamed

masses on YouTube. . .

 

and then he found our website. . .

got my cell phone number. . .

 

And when he started hearing voices again. . .

this time he called me!!

 

As I question a little more,

I learn that Sammy lives alone. . .

 

and he’s a schizophrenic. . .

 

and he’s on medication to try

to control his symptoms. . .

 

but sometimes he has breakthrough

auditory and visual hallucinations. . .

and it scares Sammy to death!!!

 

It would scare me to death, too!!!

 

Sammy just wants the voices to leave him alone. . .

 

And he needs someone to talk to. . .

to ease his fears.

 

Well, the first thing I encourage him

to do is to call his mental health provider

the next day to see if his

medication needs adjusting. . .

 

Sammy knows that already.

 

What he wants is some immediate

relief from his fear. . .

 

and Sammy knows about Jesus. . .

 

and that Jesus helps people in the Bible. . .

so maybe Jesus can somehow help him.

 

And maybe. . .just maybe. . .

Sammy thinks,

this real priest from Kentucky. . .

not just a preacher. . .

can somehow help.

So I have Sammy. . .

With me. . .

repeat the name of Jesus,

over and over. . .and over . .

 

Jesus. . .

Jesus. . .

Jesus. . . .

 

And sure enough,

Sammy finally settles down. . .

There’s a calmness in his voice.

 

And I say,

“Sammy you’re never alone. . .

 

when you get scared. . .

 

just repeat the name of Jesus . . .

over and over and over.”

 

“Thank you Steve Roberts. . .

Steve Roberts.”

 

“Now Sammy, don’t forget to call your doctor. . .

 

And I’m going to pray for you. . .

Will you pray for me?

 

“I sure will Steve Roberts. . .

Steve Roberts.”

 

And the conversation ends. . .

 

And I think that’s the

last I’ll ever hear from Sammy.

 

But about once every two weeks or so. . .

 

usually late at night or early in the morning. . .

 

My cell phone will go off. . .

And I’ll look. . .

And it’s Sammy’s number from Los Angeles. . .

 

Should I answer it?

 

There’s one voice in my head that says,

“Don’t answer it. . .

 

He’s sick. . .

 

You can’t really help him. . .

 

And my goodness he lives in LA!!!

 

And it’s 2 in the morning!!!

 

And these days. . .

 

In this crazy world. . .

 

You just can’t tell about these sort of things.”

 

But there’s this other voice in

my head that says,

 

“Steve Roberts. . .

Steve Roberts. . .

here’s a child of God

who really just needs to talk to somebody. . .

 

and he’s scared!!!”

 

The voice continues. . .

 

You know that those

with serious mental health issues like Sammy

get shunned in our society. . .

 

they’re just like the lepers

who were shunned in the Bible. . .

 

And Steve Roberts. . .

Steve Roberts. . .

You ARE supposed to represent Jesus. . .

 

and Jesus did help people in the Bible. . .

 

especially if they were shunned

and marginalized. . .

and outcast. . .

and sick.

 

That second voice. . .

that second voice I know is

the voice of the Good Shepherd. . .

 

who will always. . .

always lead me to the right path. . .

the right path for me. . .

and the right path for others.

 

So in my situation,

I answer,

“Sammy. . .are you OK?”

 

And Sammy starts as he always starts. . .

“Steve Roberts. . .

Steve Roberts.”

 

Mark Twain is credited with saying:

 

The two most important days of your life. . .

 

Are the day you are born. . .

 

And the day you figure out why.

 

I’m a late bloomer on this one.

 

For me. . .

My purpose is to follow the

voice of the Good Shepherd. . .

 

To follow the voice of Jesus.

 

Or another way to put it,

Jesus says, seek first. . .

Seek first the Kingdom of God. . .

 

 

The Kingdom where people like

Sammy aren’t shunned. . .

 

where love and mercy and forgiveness

flow out from us in abundance. . .

 

where everyone is taken care of. . .

fed. . .

housed. . .

and clothed. . .

 

where everyone. . .

everyone is afforded the

dignity of being a child of God.

 

A Kingdom where violence. . .

and injustices are merely

fading memories.

 

Where everyone knows that Jesus is the Good Shepherd. . .

 

And knows His love. . .

 

And follows His voice.

 

How many times in the past

have I followed that

other voice in my head. . .

 

And how many times do I still

follow that other voice.

 

What if I had only

followed the Good Shepherd’s voice

my whole life. . .

 

What if now I always followed

the Good Shepherd’s voice

 

How much better off I would be. . .

 

and how much better off would

the world would be.

 

I had a wedding yesterday. . .

and when it was over. . .

 

I got back in my car. . .

And checked my phone. . .

 

And there were three calls from Los Angeles.

 

I called the number back

and Sammy started the conversation. . .

 

“Steve Roberts. . .

Steve Roberts.”

 

“Hello, Sammy.”

 

I imagine he had been watching all

the stuff going on in Minneapolis

because Sammy said,

 

“You’re a white man aren’t you

Steve Roberts. . .

Steve Roberts.”

 

“Yes, I am, Sammy”

 

“Well, I’m a black man. . .”

 

and then Sammy paused. . .

 

curious as to what my response would be.

 

I said,

“We’re all the same in the eyes of God.”

 

We talked a while longer. . .

 

and we closed our conversation

repeating over and over and over. . .

 

“Jesus. . .

Jesus. . .

Jesus.”

 

Holy Spirit 04/25-25/2021