March 2020

…there is a connection!

At some point in the coming weeks John Truscott will be completing his report. It will be looking at a range of issues across the church including vision, staffing, finances and strategy. The idea of this review first emerged during my sabbatical last summer in connection with concerns about our finances. However, as we considered things in the round it became clear that it would be enormously helpful to widen John’s brief and enable him to look across a range of areas and across all our congregations. Personally, without any prior knowledge of what John will recommend, I welcome this opportunity to have someone with such considerable experience and skills taking a look at how we operate as a church family. In due course the report will need to be carefully considered by the PCC. The aim must clearly be that we take a good look within so that we can be better equipped to serve Christ together, across the whole church family, within Sevenoaks. Please pray for both John Truscott and the PCC in the vital process of discernment.

Taking an accurate look within is not only necessary institutionally but also personally. Though Lent has often been a time simply for abstinence from luxuries its roots lie in reflecting on our true spiritual state before the Lord. The collect for Ash Wednesday is as follows:

Almighty and everlasting God,
you hate nothing that you have made
and forgive the sins of all those who are penitent:
create and make in us new and contrite hearts
that we, worthily lamenting our sins
and acknowledging our wretchedness,
may receive from you, the God of all mercy,
perfect remission and forgiveness;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen

It picks up the themes of an honest recognition of our sinfulness, a thoroughgoing repentance and a re-appropriation of the wonder of the forgiveness that is only available through our Lord Jesus Christ.

In this brief letter it’s time to draw these two things together. It is vitally important that we come to a realistic assessment of our corporate life as a church family and we trust that John Truscott’s report will clearly assist us in this task. Yet it will all be to no avail unless it is fully accompanied by a realistic personal self-examination of our spiritual state before the Lord. My hope and prayer is that we would use this period of Lent in such a way that it would lead from self-examination to a warmer devotion and zeal for our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. It is only as those who have been re-energised by the gospel that we will then be in a position to address the broader issues that we face as a church family in order that we would be better placed to serve Christ and the gospel in Sevenoaks and beyond in the coming years.

Angus MacLeay
St Nicholas Church