“Ministry of Food.” What a name! I love it!! I believe many of you have seen or perhaps have visited the Japanese cuisine restaurant “Ministry of Food.” When I first noticed this “Ministry” name, I started making connection with what I have read in the Scripture. Allow me to call it the Ministry of the Ordinary.
Relationships are being cultivated and bonds strengthened during food and drink fellowship (Lim kopi), as we spend time engaging in small talk. When someone says that he has no time for small talk, he has missed out on a very important ministry of the ordinary.
Most of people’s lives are not spent in crisis, not lived at the cutting edge of crucial issues. Most of us, most of the time, are engaged in simple, routine tasks, and small talk is the natural language. If we belittle it, we belittle what most people are doing most of the time, and the gospel is misrepresented. Most people, most of the time, engage in the ordinary life of eating and Lim kopi etc. – the Ministry of Food?
Food and drink connect. It connects us with family and friends. It turns strangers into friends. And it connects us with people. Do you know that Jesus spent a lot of His time eating and drinking with people, so much so that He was being known by His opponents as “the Son of Man has come eating and drinking… a friend of tax collectors and sinners…” (cf Luke 7:33-34). Jesus was relevant!! He was engaging the culture and the community. Who were the people who were attracted to Him? Answer: the sinners!! He deliberately spent time with sinners. Jesus went out and engaged their world. Now in modern trend, we invited them to our church?
Jesus spent a lot of his time over a long meal, stretching into the evening. He spent time around a table with some grilled fish, a loaf of bread, and drinks.
Luke’s Gospel is full of stories of Jesus having food and drink with people: in Luke 5, Jesus eats with tax collectors and sinners at the home of Levi.
In Luke’s Gospel, Jesus is either going to a meal, at a meal, or coming from a meal. Eating and drinking were so important in the mission of Jesus: they were a sign of his friendship with tax collectors and sinners.
Food and drink connect us with people, even with those outside the church. The ministry of small talk is important. Remember, most of people’s lives are not spent in crisis. Most of us, most of the time, are engaged in simple, routine tasks, and small talk is the natural language. Let us get to know one another, even our non-Christian friends, little by little through the ministry of small talk or the ordinary, i.e. through food and Lim kopi. :)