At Synod Assembly, during our little scraps of downtime, I read Jesus Freak, by Sara Miles. You may have read her first book, Take This Bread. I did, and it didn't move me particularly, one way or another. I was interested in her experiences in creating a food pantry, but other than that information, it didn't particularly inspire me.
So, why did I pick up Jesus Freak? I was intrigued by the 3 sections: feeding, healing, raising the dead. One of the main points of her book is that we should be able to do anything that Jesus could do. She's not the first to consider this idea; Madeleine L'Engle did it much more eloquently in Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith and Art. One of the main appeals of Sara Miles' book is its brevity, 166 pages, which appeals to me these days.
Her section on feeding is strongest, although the healing section was also interesting. Her argument falls apart in the third section, where she says we raise the dead metaphorically, by remembering them. Even though the argument falls apart, the plot remains compelling throughout.
Throughout this book, we meet an appealing cast of characters, including Sara herself as the most appealing character. It's refreshing to see a non-ordained woman wrestling with deep theological issues. It's inspiring to see her dedicate her life to living out her faith. It's wonderful to have a view of Kingdom building, right here, right now.
Here are some quotes to whet your appetite:
"The concrete experience of the food pantry, like the Gospel, is stuffed with stories like this: because anywhere there's food, spirit and matter intersect. And the power to feed--and particularly to share food with people outside your tribe--always has the potential to transform lives." (21-22)
"Prayer can't cure. All prayer can do is heal, because healing comes embedded in relationship, and prayer is one of the deepest forms of relationship--with God and with other people. And through relationship, there can be healing in the absence of cure." (85)
"Healing with Jesus isn't New Age-y and gentle. It is frequently about pain: which might explain, I realized, why Jesus often asks the desperate people who come to him, Do you want to be well? Do you want to be well if getting well hurts? Do you want to be well if it separates you from your old identity? Do you want to be well more than you want to stay the same?" (emphasis in original text, page 87)