To quote the celebrated theologian Ron Burgundy, I'm kind of a big deal.
I'm something of a celebrity among the local two-to-five year old set.
Many of them tune in religiously every Wednesday morning to see and hear me.
One of them thinks my name is Chapel because "Chapel Time" in his classroom is a video of me praying, talking, telling stories, being wise and winsome, silly and charming and generally delightful.
Imagine, if you can, the excitement this past week when my adoring fans saw me in person.
Each class got its own meet-and-greet sanctuary tour with Pastor Brian as we prepare to move chapel time from classrooms to sanctuary, from TV show to live theater.
It was the stewardship team's dream come true: eyes wide with wonder were seeing again, or maybe seeing for the first time, God's big magical room which now includes them.
Their faces explained why Jesus said that only those like children can enter the kingdom of God, which opens our eyes to the story of Bartimaeus.
He is dependent on others, a beggar, and people keep telling him to be quiet and behave.
Undaunted, he makes a lot of noise insisting on what he wants until he gets it.
He wants to see.
He wants to be included.
Jesus says yes.
That's what happens at the baptismal font, the first stop on the preschool tour.
Jesus says yes, and feet are set into motion, because miracles have consequences.
Bartimaeus will no longer sit on the roadside; he will follow Jesus on the way.
His story is a GIF of church, the parade of the healed, the movement of the saved.
Baptism launches us into God's mission of loving, blessing, and sustaining the world, moving us from the roadside to the road.
It's something the church constantly forgets and needs to see again.
We are a movement that likes to fancy itself a destination.
We encourage people to go to church instead of being the church going to the world with Jesus.
It's why I worry about preschoolers who can only watch chapel videos and other folks
who can only participate with us online.
Worship and liturgy, which literally means the work of the people, can easily get warped into a TV show.
The same danger exists in person: let the band do the singing, pay some pastor to be th2 professional Christian, and stay sidelined as consumers and fans rather than followers.
What Jackie Robinson said about life, Billy Graham said about Christianity: it's not a spectator sport.
The change in Bartimaeus' eyes necessitates a change in his feet.
This is why we need to see stewardship again; it's not a fund drive to pay the bills, it's a lifestyle of support and generosity.
It's putting our money where our mouth is the way Bartimaeus put his feet where his eyes were.It's training our eyes to see, our hands and hearts to open, and our feet to follow.
All of these things are hard to do.
Indeed, Jesus recently said, for mortals it is impossible, but not for God; for God all things are possible.
He said this to his disciples after an enthusiastic rich man walked away, unwilling to follow him.
He said this to his disciples who responded all three times to his triple announcement that he was headed to Jerusalem to suffer and die with delusional arguments about greatness.
After the third dustup, he asked James and John What do you want me to do for you? – the exact question he will repeat to Bartimaeus.
Restored sight is only one of the miracles in this good news story.
Another is that Bartimaeus actually follows.
Still another is that Jesus asks the question again.
He should know better by now.
The disciple he lost, and the disciples he has kept, are thirteen good reasons to give up.
The church with all its own delusions and blind spots is still another.
But Jesus keeps going, and so do we, because with God, all things are possible.
Thank you for your commitments to our special, imperfect, meaningful, flawed ministry.
Thank you for sticking with this community established and sent forth in the name of Jesus.
Thank you for hitting the road with Holy Communion for the homebound, canned goods for the poor, listening ears for the heartbroken, and other forms of food for the hungry.
Thank you for walking uphill with Jesus into a skeptical, hostile, and hurting world, still saying yes to love.
Thank you for putting your feet and your finances where your faith is.
And thanks be to God for a Savior who keeps going, keeps asking, keeps healing, keeps saving, keeps teaching, keeps trying, keeps giving and forgiving, keeps walking all the way to his death on a cross ... and then still keeps going.