Monday, May 21, 2007

Here is bread, here is wine

In this bread, there is healing,
In this cup is life forever -
In this moment, by His Spirit,
Christ is with us here.

(Graham Kendrick, "Here Is Bread," from the ELCA Worship and Praise hymnal)

Sara Miles was an atheist and a lesbian who had been a war correspondent, writer, community organizer and chef. Food had been at the heart of each of those experiences - whether feeding South American resistance fighters or working as a prep cook in swanky New York restaurants. At 46, when her story begins, she had no desire to discover Christianity.

Yet a random encounter with the Eucharist at an Episcopal church in San Francisco created an amazing conversion experience for Sara, uniting the image of God feeding His children with her desire to be of service to others. She became active in the church, drawn ever deeper into the imagery of God's table being a place where all could be fed. She describes her conversion this way: "I took communion, I passed the bread to others, and then I kept going, compelled to find new ways to share what I’d experienced. I started a food pantry."

Her story is detailed in the recently published book, "Take This Bread: A Radical Conversion." Sara hears that Jesus said, "Feed My sheep", and she actually answers the call to do this, and chronicles her journey. Under her guidance, every Friday their altar space becomes a food pantry, sharing the gift of food to the needy from the same space that the Eucharist is served on Sunday. Sara describes how she saw that "the meal" on Sunday actually begins with feeding "the least of these" on Friday.

She is the kind of Christian I want to be, not excluding anyone, but faithful to the radical inclusion of the Gospel, which is violently at odds with the way faith is sometimes practiced today. Her story is an incredible testimony that, as the song says, "In this bread, there is healing - in this cup is life forever."

Lord God, work in me as you have worked in Sara Miles! Take the lessons and images throughout the life, death, and resurrection of Christ, and kindle my heart with your flame. In this day, may I be your servant in whatever way that I can, to build your kingdom here on earth. Amen.

1 comment:

Hope said...

I checked and can get this book through my library. I look forward to reading it...thanks for writing about it. I'm quite sure it's going to set me thinking.