Sunday morning, Maggi encouraged us to worship at St. Gregory of Nyssa Episcopal Church where Sara Miles is a deacon of the church. I (Sally) had read Sara’s first book Take This Bread several years ago and I heard her speak at the College Conference in Montreat, NC about three years ago. I’ll tell you more about Sara in a minute but first let me share about the church. Walking in the front door you are met with a visual canvas of joy. Eight walls are covered with ninety saints – from David and Paul to Florence Nightingale and Desmond Tutu! In this service we sang and danced our way into worship, then danced our way to the communion table and out into the world. The whole experience was wonderful.
One early, cloudy morning when I was forty-six, I walked into a church, ate a piece of bread, took a sip of wine. A routine Sunday activity for tens of millions of Americans — except that up until that moment I’d led a thoroughly secular life, at best indifferent to religion, more often appalled by its fundamentalist crusades. This was my first communion. It changed everything.Eating Jesus, as I did that day to my great astonishment, led me against all my expectations to a faith I’d scorned and work I’d never imagined. The mysterious sacrament turned out to be not a symbolic wafer at all, but actual food — indeed, the bread of life. In that shocking moment of communion, filled with a deep desire to reach for and become part of a body, I realized what I’d been doing with my life all along was what I was meant to do: feed people.
And so I did. I took communion, I passed the bread to others, and then I kept going, compelled to find new ways to share what I’d experienced. I started a food pantry and gave away literally tons of fruit and vegetables and cereal around the same altar where I’d first received the body of Christ. I organized new pantries all over my city to provide hundreds and hundreds of hungry families with free groceries each week. Without committees or meetings or even an official telephone number, I recruited scores of volunteers and raised hundreds of thousands of dollars.
After church, we picked up Maggi at Old First Presbyterian Church, hoped on the bus and went to Chinatown where she led us to a ‘hole in the wall’ establishment and pointed to this and that (as the menu was totally in Chinese). We purchased about fifteen pieces of dim sum, an assortment of delicious dumplings and steamed food items. Then we walked to a city park and feasted as Maggi told us some of the history of Chinatown.