I received an uncorrected proof of Sara Miles, " Jesus Freak ", soon to be released in early February. With " Missional " being the buzz word in much of the church conversation, and with an increasing number of blogs hanging it like a tag for a boxing day sale. It's refreshing to read a book of such profound simplicity, and clarity around the subject of what it is to be " Missional." Sara Miles voice is timely, passionate...and in a language we can all understand.
Jesus in the gospels, in talking to Nicodemus in the dark of the night at a roof top rendezvous, said the Spirit is like, " You know well enough how the wind blows this way and that. You hear it rustling through the trees, but you have no idea where it comes from or where it's headed next. That's the way it is with everyone 'born from above' by the wind of God, the Spirit of God."
And So it was for Sara Miles, carried by the mysterious wind through the door of a church. Invited to the table, she meets Jesus in that profound meal the church calls the Eucharist. In " Take this Bread ", she discovers the living reality of the Bread of Life.
In her new book, it is a continuation of the journey. As you cross the threshold in the the opening pages of the book, it becomes apparent that faith is a journey of discovery. It is walking through the gospel narrative, in which Sara says, " Come and See." Sara reveals to truth of Jesus words, his announcement that the Kingdom is near. Jesus revealed through radical scandalous stories of redemption that captured human imagination of a Kingdom which miraculously could be here now. But Jesus not only talked the talk of the Kingdom, people saw it open up right before their eyes in acts of feeding, healing and raising the dead.
What does it mean to be a Jesus Freak? Or, more to the point, what would it mean to live as if you ____and everyone around you ___ were Jesus, and filled with his power? To just take his teachings literally, go out the front door of you home, and act on them? ( Jesus Freak; page xi )
Through the book Sara weaves three strands of profound truth of the Kingdom...of feeding, healing and raising the dead. The beauty of the book, it is not a truth of disconnect, through out she weaves gospel stories along with stories of everyday living. Each one of us has access to the Kingdom, in revealing it...and, also in building it.
Out of Sara's experience of discovering the mysterious truth of what the bread of life is, the altar at St. Gregory's of Nyssa Episcopal church becomes the center of a food pantry. Out of this place flows the redemptive imaginative power and stories like that of the gospel. As Sara says...
because where ever there is food, spirit and matter intersect. And the power to feed___ and particularly food to share with outside your tribe___ always has the potential to transform lives. ( Jesus Freak; page 21 )
The gospel is filled with profound stories of the table hospitality of Jesus. These become spaces of redemption. Where ever Jesus, food and strangers came to the table, it was like a reaction in a test tube. Out of the process, there was always the potential of a new creation happening. Sara makes it absolutely clear this is not a historical truth, we all have the power to do the same thing today. In the power Jesus has given each one of us, we step into everyday life...and simply live it out. The kingdom becomes glaringly present. Through real stories, in real time, Sara Miles shares stories of the power of feeding.
In Jesus Freak, Sara shares stories of healing in the midst of the community, and on the fringe. Stories of alcoholics, drug addicts, the sick and the mentally ill. Stories of healing that baffled the medical community. Stories that defied reason and logic. And there were stories of ordinary people becoming healers. She tells the story of a woman named Martha, on a trip in South America traveling a country road, they come across a man, the victim of an accident, covered in blood. You can't help reading Sara's story, and see the gospel story of the Good Samaritan cast it's shadow. Martha, thinking the man is dying places her hand on his chest. She says, " If he is dying. I want to make sure the last thing he remembers is the hand of someone caring for him." I'll tell you no more. I'll let you read the rest of Martha's remarkable story.
Sara conveys, a profound truth in her healing stories...relationship.
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. ( Jesus Freaks; page 85 )
In the section titled raising the dead, Sara tells an incredible beautiful story of Laura. A woman dying of advanced lung cancer who phones the church inquiring about a program called, " Scared Dying." Ironically, the real name, was a hospice program called, " Sacred Death." Again, that's all I'm telling you, other than, in it you'll discover the resurrection all over gain. The truth that the resurrection can happen today, and you can be apart of it. Yet, is it impossible...what could it possibly mean to raise the dead?
Jesus Freak, was a breath of fresh air. For those stuck in their pew, like a spare player, a substitute waiting to get onto the field a play...this is the book. And for pastors, and churches wanting to make mission more than a program...to move it into the realm of everyday life...this is the book. In Sara Miles book we once again discover Jesus' truth that I have not left you alone, and empty. That Jesus has given us his words, and his power. That we would do greater things.
Places where you can purchase the book, you can connect here at the following (Links ). I highly recommend you put this on the top of your " To Read " list. Sara Miles, Jesus Freak, will inspire, and encourage you to live your faith boldly in the wide open spaces of everyday life.