Take This Bread: A Radical Conversion by Sara Miles

The whole time I was reading this, I had Smalltown Poets’ song in my head: Take this bread / drink this cup / know this price has pardoned you / from all that’s hardened you / but it’s going to take some trust. It didn’t surprise me when I picked it up and Mike started singing it, too. It’s the obvious choice.

I considered not writing about this book, to be honest, because a left-wing, lesbian Episcopalian doesn’t necessarily match up with everyone’s idea of what a Christian looks like. In that way, she reminded me of Anne Lamott (without the biting sarcasm), though I feel that’s almost an cheap, easy parallel to make since they are liberal Christian women who live in California. It’s their unconvential stories more than anything that caused me to make that comparison. Sara Miles approaches and expresses her faith in a much different way than Anne Lamott. In the end, really enjoyed Take This Bread and found I had some things to say, so, here goes.

One Sunday, Sara Miles walked into a church, took communion, and found her life transformed. The symbol of communion, of God as food, resonated with her. When she worked in a restaurant, she noticed how sharing food created a kind of . . . community among people. When she worked as a war correspondent, she had meals with all different kinds of people who shared with her what they had. All of that came together for her in communion, being fed by Christ, which also happens in community. As she grew in faith, she felt led to help her church start a food pantry, which led to eleven other pantries that now serve thousands of families each week. Take This Bread tells the story of her conversion to Christianity and how the food pantry at St. Gregory’s came to be.

What resonated with me in this book was the concept of sharing food in community. Having just taken some small steps to be more active in serving the poor in my own community, I appreciated Sara’s passion (is it okay to call her Sara? Is that pretentious?) as she worked to transform her faith into action.

But what I liked best about the book was how her faith was closely tied to tangible food. I eat too fast. I always have. Mom says I am just like Dad in that way. I love food and eating, but I approach food as a task to accomplish rather than lingering over it. I am always the first one finished at our house and when I go out to eat with my friends, and I am embarrassed about it. Last week, I tried (and often failed) to be more intentional about making the meals we shared with my aunt and uncle a kind of . . . worship, for lack of a better word. Not eating to fill up, but eating as a way to enjoy God’s gifts on earth. Not ignoring conversation in favor of food, but appreciating the whole experience. This book reminded me that too often I sell myself short when it comes to experiencing God in community outside of the four walls of my church, and I hope that it opened my eyes to take advantage of those opportunities more in the future.

Come, every soul by sin oppressed / There’s mercy with the Lord / And he will surely give you rest / By trusting in his word

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