Glenda Simpkins Hoffman
This week at the beginning of the Monday Night Women’s Bible Study, I asked for prayer requests. One person asked us to pray for our church and for Pete in the last days of his ministry here at VPC. I chimed in, 13 days and counting. Now it’s even less.
We have known about this for almost two years, but the time has come for Pete to retire after 42 years of faithful leadership at VPC. I do hope that each of us is praying for him and Chris and for our church as we live into this season of Lent by letting go and letting God do what only God can do for them and for us as a congregation.
I have enjoyed reading the devotions so many have written sharing their experiences of transformation and memories of Pete and gratitude for his leadership. The psalmist reminds us, “It is good to give thanks to the Lord” (Ps. 92:1). As Pete reminded us on Sunday, God is good all the time. All the time, God is good. God has been good to the people of VPC in giving us a faithful, visionary leader for so many years. We have so many reasons to give thanks.
I invite you to participate in all the ways we can give thanks to the Lord and honor Pete by going to our website and posting notes, pictures, and videos on the Kudos board; contributing to the Serve the Lord and Serve the People endowment gift; and viewing the videos about his life and ministry here in Vienna. Since we cannot be together to recognize and celebrate Pete, this is an opportunity to do so virtually.
The time has come to begin the season of Lent as we walk with Jesus all the way to the cross. Though we can’t be together to receive the ashes, we can still worship the Lord through our virtual Ash Wednesday Service led by Pastor Charles and Greg and Michelle Rahal. This service is available throughout the day beginning at 9:00 a.m.
Pete’s sermon series on “What Matters Most” and Ash Wednesday both made me think of Frederick Buechner’s reflection on Lent. I have shared it before, but it seems like a good time to do so again. His series of questions helps us to clarify what matters most to us and invites us to arrange these days of Lent as an opportunity not only to answer the questions but to become the person we want to be and, more important, the person God created and redeemed us to be.
“In many cultures there is an ancient custom of giving a tenth of each year’s income to some holy use. For Christians, to observe the forty days of Lent is to do the same thing with roughly a tenth of each year’s days. After being baptized by John in the river Jordan, Jesus went off alone into the wilderness, where he spent forty days asking himself the question what it meant to be Jesus.
During Lent, Christians are supposed to ask one way or another what it means to be themselves.
If you had to bet everything you have on whether there is a God or whether there isn’t, which side would get your money and why?
When you look at your face in the mirror, what do you see in it that you most like and what do you see in it that you most deplore?
If you had only one last message to leave to the handful of people who are most important to you, what would it be in twenty-five words or less?
Of all the things you have done in your life, which is the one you would most like to undo? Which is the one that makes you happiest to remember?
Is there any person in the world or any cause that, if circumstances called for it, you would be willing to die for?
If this were the last day of your life, what would you do with it?
To hear yourself try to answer questions like these is to begin to hear something not only of who you are, but of both what you are becoming and what you are failing to become. It can be a pretty depressing business all in all, but if sackcloth and ashes are at the start of it, something like Easter may be at the end.”
~originally published in Whistling in the Dark and later in Beyond Words