Right around Easter I was feeling the need to read something that would nourish me spiritually. I wanted something that was less academic but that wouldn’t make the academic side of me scream. I had read Sara Miles’ first book Take This Bread: A Radical Conversion while I was in seminary. I devoured it. It was just what I had needed at that time.
So while looking for something to read I picked up Sara’s next book Jesus Freak: Feeding Healing Raising the Dead. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. I was worried that it wouldn’t work with my theology and that I would be turned off by it, but instead, again, it was just what I needed.
Miles’ takes the three aspects of Jesus’ ministry; feeding, healing, and raising the dead and weaves them into modern life with meditations/stories about her ministry in San Francisco. What I love about her work is that she breathes life into the ideas of what it means to do all of these things. She has a background in restaurant work and so food is incredibly important to her. Her stories about cooking for people and leading the food pantry are lovely.
She doesn’t shy away from the hard work of ministry, though; the times when she feels angry, judgmental, impatient, and I appreciate that as well. There is no sugar coating here, but there is a realization and a deeply held belief that God will show up in the midst of the messiness. There is also the understanding that we can do the work of God in the world even as we are impatient and selfish and angry.
I appreciated her words on what it meant to heal people; to understand the difference between being healed and being cured. That one can still be physically sick even as one is healed. This is something I don’t hear talked about very much and it was refreshing to read it here. I also love that she takes seriously all of these ideas; that instead of making them theological she makes them practical. We need to be feeding people real food. We need to be healing people. We need to be raising people back to life. It looks different in each situation but it’s what we are called to do.
This is a beautiful book. One that resonated with me and whose stories continue to rattle around in my head.