This is a short story – one about a church photo and a Saturday of food and hope. The religion part is up to you.

On a recent Saturday, the one before Super Bowl Sunday, I was filling up a shopping cart to get ready for the Eagles-Patriots game and not particularly enjoying the activity.

Too many people. Too much commotion. They need traffic lights in some of these aisles, I thought and grumbled. What a pain to have to go to the store and fight the crowds. And would you look at the tab for all of this stuff? Going broke here.

And then I stopped.

And then I thought about the scene at First Presbyterian Church that same morning. More than 100 people were there for food, and I am guessing most would have gladly fought the crowds at Super Saver or Hy-Vee that day. Gladly.

Community partners come together on the first and third Saturday every month to provide food for their neighbors in need. The mission is really just to provide a little hope.

And it all starts in the nave of the church. People who just need a little boost sit quietly and wait to hear their number called. They then go through the line to select a can or two of this, a bag or two of that. Fruit. Bread.

Food and hope.

The partners are the church, Jacob’s Well, the Food Bank of Lincoln and a whole bunch of volunteers who get it, that not everyone gets to go to the store and fill a shopping cart.

Bill Thornton gets it. Maybe better than anyone. Bill directs the Jacob’s Well operation and all the good they do in that neighborhood, and it’s a lot. He is also a professor of pastoral ministry at Nebraska Christian College.

He gets it, so I asked him what the picture snapped with my fancy smartphone in the back of a church meant to him.

“When I see the sanctuary filled with people on Saturdays, I am reminded that some folks think of these church spaces as sacred places,” he said, “while others see them as providing safe refuge for the marginalized.

“I think in the food distribution, we see both of these ideals come together, as I believe it is a holy thing to do what we can to help ensure food security for those who are in need – an expression of what it means to love our neighbors as ourselves.”

An expression of hope. Sacred hope, away from the checkout line at Super Saver. A place of peace.

The religion part is up to you.

Well done, Mr. Buckley

The hardest-working man in the business retired on Feb. 9. What great work Dennis Buckley has done over the years. And I loved this line in his Neighborhood Extra farewell column:

“I will continue to pop up at some community events, although it will feel odd filling a plate of hors d’oeuvres without balancing a camera and notepad.”

No one has done more when it comes to sharing good news in this community. No one.

John Mabry will write about life from time to time in L, as permitted. He can be reached at johnmabry47@gmail.com.

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