Sara Miles, who lives in San Francisco, documented her conversion to Christianity at the age of 46 in her first book, "Take This Bread." A former atheist and journalist who covered wars and revolutions, she never intended to become a Christian or - as she describes it - "a religious nut." But one morning, she went into St Gregory of Nyssa Episcopal Church near her home, took Communion and found both God and her life mission: feeding the hungry. She founded St Gregory's Food Pantry, which is set up right at the church's alter and feeds hundreds of people a week. In her most recent book, "Jesus Freak," she details her belief that ordinary people "are authorized and empowered to do Jesus' work of feeding, healing and raising the dead," and urges that Christianity is a faith of doing. A popular and inspiring speaker, Miles was in Minnesota last week, when she gave the Cathedral Bookstore a few moments to talk about her upcoming visit to Atlanta.

Bookstore: According to the St Bede-St Dunstan websites, your topic as a featured speaker will be "Holy Food and Groceries." Care to give us a short preview?

Sara: I'm interested in talking about the connections between the bread of heaven and daily bread--that is, how what we do on Sundays at Communion carries over into the rest of our lives. I believe that, even though we often separate worship from service, they're integrally connected.

Bookstore: Talking about food is provocative considering this is Lent, a time of year when fasting is central part of many Christian traditions. How do you observe Lent personally?

Sara: Fasting is not simply about self-denial; I think it's a way of paying attention, of helping us to notice things we otherwise wouldn't, including noticing the hungers of others.

I'd like to pray, this Lent, for "peace on earth and food for all."

Bookstore: In both of your books, "Take This Bread" and "Jesus Freak," you write with great passion about the food pantry at St Gregory of Nyssa Episcopal Church, and your call to churches, not just Episcopal, to take action and literally feed the hungry. With the economy worsening over the last few years, it would seem that need is greater than ever before. Are you seeing more churches rise to the challenge and respond?

Sara: The economic crisis has meant there are a lot more hungry people, and the collapse of state governments means more churches are taking up the slack and feeding increasing numbers. I'm very grateful for the work religious institutions do to provide food to hungry families, but I also want to see food stamp and unemployment benefits and school lunch programs strengthened.

Bookstore: Are you working on another book?

Sara: I'm always writing, and interested in telling stories about the faith and actions of the people around me

Teach us, O Lord, where wisdom is to be found, and show us the place of understanding From The Book of Occasional Services.

In June of 2010, Joan Chittister, author of ‘’Uncommon Gratitude: Alleluia for All That Is’’, delivered ‘’Forget the Answers; It’s the Questions that Count’’—a message to the book publishers and sellers gathered at the annual Religious Booksellers Trade Exhibit. Among other things, she said.

You are the people whose ministry it is to honor the great spiritual questions of every age—particularly our own. And you do it in institutions for which the past is a friendlier more familiar place than the future—so much for all their talk about faith. Your ministry is a sacred task, an eternal trust. For all our sakes. You are the people who build the spiritual bridge that will carry the rest of us from yesterday to tomorrow.

If it had not been for publishers and copiers and booksellers,
If it had not been for the ones of every age before us—scribes, copyists, printers—who multiplied manuscripts one piece of vellum at a time, who distributed texts one tract at a time, Who carried from place to place and people to people the ideas that shook the church and changed the world, the world as we know it would never have come to light.
Liturgical Press has posted the address online and everyone needs to read it.

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