The Wish List
Once at a church where I served there was a wish list posted on the refrigerator. People working in the kitchen wrote down the items that ran out and that were needed for fellowship hour and potlucks. This list was written on a narrow pad of white paper and as the top page filled up, items got marked off, the page was torn away, and another one took its place. No one told me about the list. No one explained who took care of handling the requests. I’m not sure exactly who was in charge of supplying the items; I just knew that during my time there as the interim pastor, what was asked for was received, what was empty got filled, and what was missing was replaced.
One day, I walked into the kitchen and noticed a new item had been added to the list. Just beneath the requests for measuring cups, sugar, and a white tablecloth, someone had written, World Peace. I suppose it was just a joke. I must say it brought a smile to my face. How amusing that someone wants world peace AND a tablecloth! And yet, after thinking about it, maybe it wasn’t meant to be funny at all. Maybe someone had noticed that when trash bags and plastic spoons were listed on these pieces of paper attached to the refrigerator, the items suddenly appeared and maybe that someone decided that if crackers and salt, tea and creamer can magically happen, peace can too.
Finding peace, creating peace, is of course, nothing like shopping for kitchen items. You don’t just order up peace for the universe in the same way we pick up grape juice and cookies. But as I’ve considered the listed item and decided it was probably a joke, it concerns me that people of faith don’t even hope for it any more. Maybe we have decided it is no longer a prayer worth praying. With an increase in mass shootings in our country, war in Ukraine, stories of civil strife and tensions rising across borders, with the history of the world numbered by wars, maybe we’ve decided it isn’t even worth our wishes, even isn’t worth a petition for grace.
“It’s just human nature,” I’ve heard folks say. “As long as there are people and greed, people and religious differences, there will be battles fought.” Maybe. But maybe not. At the very least it seems to me we ought to keep asking for peace. We ought to keep searching for solutions to poverty and hunger to help ease the tensions, create new ways to deal with the strife. We ought to learn what it means to live nonviolently in today’s world. It seems to me at least that people of faith should once again imagine that love is stronger than hatred and peace can overcome chaos. People of faith should at least pray for world peace.
But maybe that’s just a naïve and silly request. Perhaps I should imagine only teaspoons and paper napkins, communion cups and Kool-Aid will appear at church and in the world. Maybe we should keep our expectations low and our lists manageable. After all, when it comes to kitchen supplies, there is somebody making that happen. Somebody can handle those needs.
Still, when I would walk in that church kitchen, take a look at the refrigerator and notice the one item not marked off the list I would say a pastor can dream and there’s no danger in asking. There’s nothing wrong with claiming what we need and requesting a little help. Sugar and world peace, I’d say, we could use a little of both.
You are the light of the world.