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Give Us This Day Our Duck Feet Wraps

“Our Father in heaven ,

Hallowed be Your name.

Your kingdom come.

Your will be done

On earth as it is in heaven.

Give us day by day our daily bread …." ( Luke 11 : 2-3 NKJV)

When I was a teenager in the 1970s, one of my favourite treats was to have a "Duck Feet Wrap", with my Sunday School teacher Tay Cheng Kee. We had to be early at the roast duck stall in Katong to buy this delicacy as there would only be a few on sale each day. Taking the webbed foot of a duck, the roast duck seller would skillfully stuff it with liver and meat. Each bundle was painstakingly secured with duck intestines, binding it tightly into what looked like a fairly good sized lollipop. Each was then braised in sweet soya sauce until soft and tender. Delicious. Worth the wait in line.

By today’s teenage culture, the duck feet wrap is probably considered downright disgusting. Yet the group of us teenagers would gather there after church youth meetings and enjoy chewing through the cartilage, bones and guts. Looking back, one of the reasons why I grew to like the duck feet was that we, a bunch of close friends, went there together, and ate the feet together - it was a happy time together at 50 cents per foot.

Our Lord Jesus taught us to pray: - Give us this day our daily bread.

The Lord did not teach us to pray “Give ME this day MY daily bread.” As Singaporeans, we are very fortunate that we have enough calories (and often too many) and we are well nourished physically. Yet we may be lonely and hungry – and we do need to keep a focus on “Give us this day our daily bread” and seek to serve by being a friend and receiving friendship. We should not always let our tastes, our likes and dislikes, be the reason for not spending time with new and old friends.

Thus when we pray “Give us this day our daily bread” with hearts ready to share laughter and tears with someone, we become channels of “Your kingdom come; Your Will be done on earth as it is in heaven”.

Moving from “me” to “us” is a small but important step in establishing God’s will on earth. As Christians, we need to start and go on farther along this journey for there are many, even in Singapore, who go to bed hungry. One practical way to serve the hungry is to reduce wastage. The duck stall hawker invented his Duck Feet Wrap so as to make use of every portion of the duck. No waste. The risk of high cholesterol means that this delicacy will likely go out of fashion.

I hope to start a fashion, an awareness, in our eating habits so as to reduce wastage. Most of us have noticed and commented on food wastage when we cater buffet spreads at church conferences and other community events. Even if I want to bring the (very good) leftovers to needy communities, I am not able to do it as I don’t have suitable containers for the soups or curry and meat. And if I manage to bring them to communities that appreciate the food, it is difficult to distribute.

Let’s change our catering styles – we could have sandwiches and fruits for our events. Leftover sandwiches keep better and are easier to bring to communities that need the extra food. I can hop on a taxi with a box of sandwiches and a bag of apples and quickly share them with foreign construction workers but will not be able to do so with containers of chicken rendang, Penang laksa, and longan dessert. The taxi may not even want to take me for fear of spillage.

But our likes and tastes have to change; and we want to do so because we understand that the Lord taught us to pray: “Give us this day our daily bread” and in so doing we celebrate that God’s will be done in reducing wastage because our hearts are awakened.

Prayer and Practice - all wrapped up nicely when we care for the community.

Dr Tan Lai Yong teaches at the National University of Singapore and often arranges for the undergrads to serve among the foreign construction workers.

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