What can you learn about peace and justice while sitting down to a good meal of blackened catfish and cheese grits?
If you’re hungry, The King’s Kitchen is Charlotte, North Carolina, is probably your kind of place: the food is great. If you’re hungry for something more than food, then the King’s Kitchen is definitely your kind of place.
The King’s Kitchen is the brainchild of Jim Noble, a restaurateur whose culinary vision was inspired by the likes of Auguste Escoffier and Julia Child. His restaurants use local, high-quality ingredients to create what Noble calls “New Local Southern Cuisine.”
Happily, Noble’s passion extends far beyond food. As a Christian, he seeks to serve God by serving his neighbor. While the food and setting are similar to what you would get at Noble’s other restaurants, the King’s Kitchen is a ministry and not just a business.
One hundred percent of the profits go to “feed the poor in Charlotte, the region, and the world.” The concern for the least of Jesus’ brethren doesn’t stop there: the King’s Kitchen “partners with area ministries to provide employment opportunities to Charlotteans in search of a new beginning.” Its vision is to “train and equip those previously unemployable in the restaurant trade,” including ex-offenders.
But there’s more going on here than food or even ministry – it’s a manifestation of what our Lord called “the Kingdom of God.”
To our minds, the word “kingdom” suggests politics and governance. Much the same was true for Jesus’ contemporaries. For them, the Messiah would usher in a new dispensation in which peace, security, justice were a function of having the right man in charge.
But God confounded their expectations. The bearer of the promise that “my people will abide in a peaceful habitation, in secure dwellings, and in quiet resting places,” entered Jerusalem on a donkey, not on a white charger.
And the kingdom that Jesus inaugurated would make peace, justice, and security a reality not by force of arms or political programs but by acts of love. The chief of these was, of course, the act of love by which Jesus reconciled us to God and to each other.
For the Church, Jesus’ act of love was more than an example – it’s our marching orders.
For Jim Noble, that means feeding the poor and giving the previously unemployable a chance at feeding themselves.
For Prison Fellowship, it means visiting Jesus’ brethren in prison and sharing the Good News with them. It means making sure that their families are not forgotten, whether at Christmas via Angel Tree, or during the summer at Angel Tree Camp.
It involves working to ease their transition to life outside of prison through mentoring, and advocating for laws and policies that make restoration and reconciliation more likely.
Feeding the poor, employing the unemployable, giving hope to the prisoner – this is what providing “peaceful habitations, secure dwellings, and quiet resting places” looks like.
More to the point, this is what it means to be the Church. It is what we should all truly hungry for.
King’s Kitchen Restaurant – Charlotte, NC
Around Carolina | Time Warner Cable | November 25, 2011