Take This Bread

You may not agree with Sara Mile politics, or her theology but most certainly your heart will be moved by her story. A left wing, liberal, lesbian, Miles isn’t shy about sharing her feelings, she writes with an honesty that is at times simultaneously disarming and unsettling. Take This Bread is a memoir, recounting Miles spiritual journey from the atheism of her youth through a radical conversion to Christianity. Her journey begins while taking communion. It chronicles her questions, challenges and growth in Christ. Central to Miles conversion and faith is the sacrament of communion. She finds great meaning in the breaking of the bread, maybe more than many Christians ever do. It was refreshing and challenging, to read her thoughts, especially as someone coming from a non-liturgical background where communion can at times be little more than an afterthought. In the Lord’s Supper she discovers a trilogy of realities, one that resonates with the Vineyard movement: When you accept Christ, you also accept his church and his cause…

A mantra repeated throughout the book is; You can’t be a Christian alone… In communion the author gets in touch with the longing in her own heart to know and be known and then begins a fierce pursuit of community. She also realizes that a walk with Christ cannot be divorced from the cause of the Kingdom. She relates a conversation with her daughter’s elementary school teacher that motivated her to act:

“See that boy?” she said, indicating a short, neatly dressed kid putting away his knapsack in a cubby. “we went around the circle last week saying what we would do with three wishes, and he talked about food and how he wished they had more of it at his house.”

The book is also the story of the development of the food pantry at her church, St. Gregory of Nyssa Episcopal in San Francisco. With candor,wit and spiritual insight she describes challenges and joys that anyone who has ever ministered with the urban poor can relate to. She shares the growth pains of the pantry, as the weekly numbers of recipients increased and the miracle of provision as those needs are continually met. a catalyst and activist, Miles takes little credit for the success of St Gregory’s pantry, but continually gives glory to God.

“This was what it meant to be a Christian for me: that in the midst of undeniable suffering it was possible to summon up gratitude and praise.”

Take This Bread will challenge presuppositions about what it means to be a Christian, in my estimation, that is a good thing. Again, while you may not agree with Sara Miles and her perspective it is always good to evaluate what we believe and why. I found the book to be compassionate and inspirational, it challenged me to consider what more I might be able to do to see that the children and families, single parents and homeless men; the least, the lost and the lonely of our community have enough to eat. I would highly recommend it to anyone involved in feeding the poor or considering launching a ministry or program. I also recommend it to anyone desiring a deeper understanding of the Kingdom of the God and how we enter into and advance that Kingdom day by day.

“Let this broken bread and shared wine be a foretaste of your heavenly kingdom and bring us finally to your heavenly Table, where no one is left behind, and we will join with saints and angels at the feast you have prepared from the beginning.”