Tuesday, August 22nd 2017

Sara Miles’ radical conversion to a radical faith

saramiles1Sara Miles’ conversion to Christianity not only opened her eyes to Christ, but opened the eyes of now fellow Christians

Sara Miles never expected to convert to a religion and worship a God she didn’t believe existed.  Strange as it may sound, but that’s conversion. Former atheist editor of Mother Jones magazine, Miles found herself mysteriously drawn to a mysterious God.

In an interview with David Ian Miller, Miles detailed her conversion beginning with receiving communion at an Episcopal Church. One day Miles spied St. Gregory of Nyssa Episcopal Church in San Francisco, attended a liturgy, and took communion.

Miles’ meditated on what she had received, what appeared as simple bread and wine, and how this sacred banquet was a reception of faith. And what’s equally interesting is the way Miles’ — a lesbian — challenges ‘traditional’ ideas about faith and identity in the midst of the schism in the Episcopal Church over the status of same-sex relationships.

I know that there are a lot of Christians who don’t think I ought to be allowed in the club. Luckily, Christianity is not a club. It is, as my favorite patriarchal, misogynist, homophobic apostle St. Paul said: “There is no Jew or Greek, slave or free, male or female anymore. For you are all one in Jesus Christ.” What counts is not who you are. Your human identity and your human status are not the point.

What is the point, Miles argues, is that God is open to all people at any moment of God’s choosing. Making plans on the human plane is something of a well timed joke we tell to God, whose plans are often not our own, even though they are meant for us. Miles’ faith journey is one of continuing exploration, an open ended path to the divine.

barlach_russian_beggarwomanFeeding the poor is food for the soul

Helping the poor is an essential part of Miles’ identity as a Christian. If there was ever a time when Jesus showed preferential treatment, it was to the poor.

Miles put faith into action by founding The Food Pantry whose “mission is to provide access to food for hungry people.” 10 years running strong, The Food Pantry helps other charitible organizations collect and distribute food; the pantry directly distributes food at St. Gregory’s, piling fruits, vegtables and canned goods around the altar of the church.

Helping the poor is an expression of God’s love for all people, regardless of race or creed.  Miles describes the people who visit the Pantry at St. Gregory’s; some are homeless, others living in squalid conditions, and others living in comfortable apartments and flats but can barely afford the high cost of living in San Francisco.

Being a Christian who receives communion, reads the Bible, and yet does not feed the poor would be a contradiction for Miles.

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