This is what it means to live one’s faith. No creedal statements or apologetics required. Instead, we witness honest struggling and efforts to follow the example of the great teacher of love, Jesus of Nazareth. In Jesus Freak: Feeding, healing, raising the dead, Sara Miles shares her experiences of giving and receiving love through her work at The Food Pantry and as a pastor.
I have an irrational urge to press this book into the hands of all the non-religious people I know, to declare, “Read! This is what religion can look like when it is grounded in love and service. It will renew your hope.” No hate allowed, no locks on the doors.
In the well-known story of the loaves and the fishes, Jesus tells his disciples to feed the large crowd that has gathered. As Miles writes, “Like everything we have, he says, bread comes from God, and your job is just to break it up and give it away. Give it to the wrong people, to the ones who haven’t washed their hands correctly, to the latecomers and the women, to anyone who’s hungry.” It may be unsettling for some, but God’s love and mercy is for everyone, even those whom we are tempted to label as the “wrong” kinds of people. (For some readers, sadly, Miles herself would fit that criteria: she is a gay woman in a committed, lifelong relationship. I hope that her witness of following the path of loving God and serving others will be a teaching to counteract the anti-gay bias in our society.)
We all are called to love, serve, heal, and forgive. “And anyone can do it. You don’t have to be a saint or a professional; there is nothing special, I was beginning to see, about responding to a call to join Jesus in healing yourself and others.” I am grateful for the stories and reminders in this book, and hope many other readers will embrace this call.
Thank you, thank you, Sara Miles, for such a passionate and honest book. I wish I lived in San Francisco so I could come to The Food Pantry at St. Gregory of Nyssa and talk with you. However, I will try to follow the path of serving and loving here in my own backyard.
To obtain food assistance, volunteer, or make a donation to a food bank in your local area, visit Feeding America, where you can search by zip code.