TITLE: Kenya National Anthem – A Prayer for Kenya
TEXT: Jeremiah 29:1-14, 1 Peter 2:11-16, Kenya National Anthem
Father, we as your children are gathered here this morning to hear from you. To listen to you and learn from you. To be formed and made into the image of your Son Jesus Christ as we study your Word. Father, would you speak to us this morning. Our ears are open to hear from you, our eyes are open to see you and our hearts are open to receive from you.
In Jesus Name we pray, Amen.
If you are all like me then the first time the Anthem was introduced to you was in Lower Primary. It was not introduced as a gift, or anything precious, but as a song to be sung by all during parade at the raising and the lowering of the flag. We sang and still sing the National Anthem as law, and mostly without paying attention to the words: mostly as quickly as we can, that is ofcource unless we are singing during sporting events. Then we all light up and swell with pride, united by the Anthem.
The Kenya National Anthem is one of the most, in my view, precious part of the heritage we received from our forefathers. However, together with the environment and many other aspects of our heritage including values, it is one that we have continued to abuse albeit unknowingly and unconsciously. The National Anthem is a gift that we have continued to devalue through our mishandling of it.
Yet, when and if we do take a step back, we will be amazed at the priceless, portent and precious gift, asset and symbol the Anthem is to us. Both as individuals and as a nation.
The Kenya National Anthem is not just a song, even though a beautiful one at that, it is in my observations three main things:
- It is a symbol of unity – we have one Anthem for the entire nation, no tribe has their own
2. It is a prayer – yes it is, just meditate through the first line and this will become a reality for you
3. It is a call to action – pray, then do your individual and collective responsibility to ensure the
values and the dream reflected in the Anthem become a reality
It is this subject of the National Anthem (as those three things) that we will seek to understand this morning as we reflect on it and learn from God’s Word.
To help us in our journey this morning, I have broken down the Anthem in its three verses in the following sections:
- Ask for
- Ask to be
- 3. Ask to do
In the Old Testament chapter we read therein lies one of the favourite verses in Christendom today:
Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you . . . (complete)”
However this morning, I don’t want us to focus on one lone verse but to look at the context of this verse and see what the Lord would teach us this morning. In this chapter the children of Israel have been taken into exile, they are in Babylon. Confusion is rife, many are wondering what exactly is going on. The main question being:
How long are we going to be in exile? And secondly, Now that we are here, what do we do while in exile?
False prophets are all over the place lying to the exiles that they are going back home to Jerusalem soon. But Jeremiah has a different message from the Lord. He tells them in verses 4-9
4 Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, to all the exiles whom I have sent into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: 5 Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat what they produce. 6 Take wives and have sons and daughters; take wives for your sons, and give your daughters in marriage, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there, and do not decrease. 7 But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare. 8 For thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: Do not let the prophets and the diviners who are among you deceive you, and do not listen to the dreams that they dream,[a] 9 for it is a lie that they are prophesying to you in my name; I did not send them, says the Lord.
You are going to be in exile for some time. So, while you are here be productive, seek the good of the land. Do not become one with the land but go about your business, earn a living and seek the prosperity of the land while you are there.
Brothers and sisters, we are dual citizens. We belong to the Kingdom of God by virtue of believing in our hearts that Jesus Christ is Lord and confessing the same with our mouth. On the other hand we are Kenyan citizens. Our Lord has been gone for the last 2,000 years plus. He went to prepare a place for us and when it is ready He will come back for us. And in the meantime we are to seek the good and prosperity of not just the Kingdom of God but the Nation of Kenya. And how do we do this?
The Kenya National Anthem is one of those gifts that lights the path for us.
The first verse of the Kenya National Anthem is an asking verse. We ask from God, God of all creation:
– Bless this our land and nation – Justice be our shield and defender – May we dwell in unity – Peace and liberty
– Plenty be found within our borders.
Our responsibility as citizens of both the Kingdom of God and the Nation of Kenya is to pray for Kenya. To ask that the God of all creation would be our provider of food, peace, justice, unity and plenty within our borders. We pray for provision from the God of all creation.
And prayer leads us to the favourite verse of Jeremiah 29:11, this time let us look at it in its surrounding. Verse 10-14 says:
10 For thus says the Lord: Only when Babylon’s seventy years are completed will I visit you, and I will fulfill to you my promise and bring you back to this place. 11 For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope. 12 Then when you call upon me and come and pray to me, I will hear you. 13 When you search for me, you will find me; if you seek me with all your heart, 14 I will let you find me, says the Lord, and I will restore your fortunes and gather you from all the nations and all the places where I have driven you, says the Lord, and I will bring you back to the place from which I sent you into exile.
We are exiles on earth it is written in our reading of 1 Peter. We live here but we do not belong here, our citizenship is in heaven. And soon and very soon the trumpet will sound Hallelujah MARANATHA, Come Lord Jesus, Come. God has made a promise to us, that once the place is ready for us He will come for us to take us home. In the meantime brothers and sisters, we rest in the truth of verse 11: God knows the good plans He has for us and He has every intention to fulfill them. Our responsibility is clear Vs. 12-14: Pray, call upon the name of God, seek Him with all our hearts. And He promises that He will let us find Him and He will restore our fortunes.
That is what we are praying in verse one of the Kenya National Anthem: Bless Kenya Lord, let justice be our shield and defender, may we dwell in unity, peace and liberty, may plenty be found within our borders.
Ask to be
Becoming is the natural consequence of asking for. As we pray, after we pray, the Lord begins a work in us individually and collectively as dual citizens to make us to become more and more into the image of His Son Jesus Christ. Bringing us to verse two of the Kenya National Anthem, we ask to be and to become:
– Individuals and a people that arise – Individuals and a people with hearts both strong and true – Individuals and a people who have service as their earnest endeavor – Individuals and a people that stand firm to defend – our homeland of Kenya, the heritage of splendour
We ask to become responsible citizens. And How do we do that? 1 Peter 2:10- breaks it down for us.
We need as members of the Kingdom of God and citizens of Kenya to be and to become:
– individuals and a people that abstain from the desires of the flesh which wage war against the soul. Which desires are these? Pride and arrogance that keeps you from serving; fear that causes you to tremble and weakens your heart, self-preservation that keeps you from standing
firm and defending our homeland of Kenya, our heritage of splendour. These are the desires of the flesh that we are to abstain from as we seek to be and become responsible dual citizens. (EXPOUND) – A people that conduct ourselves honoroubly especially in the sight of unbelievers so as not to bring any reproach to the God’s Name. How we conduct business and trade: do we bribe and cut corners like everyone else? How we relate with members of the opposite sex: is there a difference between us and those of the world? How we relate in the family, as spouses, as parents, how we are raising up our children: are we standing out as follows of Jesus Christ? We must live honoroubly brethren amongst the people of the world. There must be a difference between the children of light and the children of darkness: as light is seperate from darkness so should we be. (EXPOUND) – A people that honour authority and institutions set over men. Listen carefully, the Word of God
does not say a people that turn a blind eye to evil and wickedness amongst the ruling class and institutions but calls us to honor both. And that means we are a people that call out evil in government, unashamedly so. A people who condemn evil and wickedness, a people who do not condone injustice. A people that are active not passive citizens of Kenya. (EXPOUND)
And we transition to the last verse of the anthem. Which is a call to action
Ask to do
In this last verse we pray and ask God to help us do a couple of things:
– Be in one accord – Be united in a common bond – Build this our nation of Kenya – Flow with thanksgiving from – The glory of Kenya – And the fruit of our labour
We pray to become dual citizens who are action oriented not passive members of the community.
If you will allow me, I would like to say that pray is one of the most abused priviledges given to the members of the Body of Christ. Many Christians and I am no saint either find it easier to pray over and about issues and situations rather than do something about the same.
We would rather pray for peace in Kenya day and night (just look around and see how many prayer gathering for peace are being organized across the country: there is one scheduled at Uhuru Park this afternoon) than actively do something to bring about peace. Brothers and sisters, we are called to pray and to also act. (EXPOUND)
In Jeremiah 29 we read that the exiles were to build house and live in them, plant vineyards and harvest them. They were not just to pray for food and shelter but were to be actively involved in the provision of both.
Today this nation is at a cross road. Some are beating war drums, and Christians on the other hand have buried their heads in the sand and all they are doing is praying, others are verbally preaching peace.
But what can you practically do where you are?
Can you start from your home: After praying for peace, justice, unity, provision, one accord what conversations do you have with your spouse? Your children? Your friends? Are they conversations that build up your prayers or break them down and nullify them?
In the work place or business: After praying for favour and breakthrough do you then go ahead to give bribes and cut corners or do you walk the long narrow path of honesty?
In the schools or academic institutions: After praying for plenty of wisdom do you then go ahead and plagiarise or copy exams or do you now sit down and study to be a good student?
Brothers and sisters, the Kenya National Anthem is a prayer and a potent prayer at that but it is much more than a prayer.
It is a call to action.
We must step up to be counted as dual citizens. Children of God and citizens of Kenya. We must arise and be counted for this Nation. We must chose today not just to pray in the words of our National Anthem but take our individual and collective responsibility towards this nation.
Conclusion Brothers and sisters this morning as we reflected on the Kenya National Anthem and God’s Word as it is written in Jeremiah 29 and 1 Peter 2 we have learnt a couple of things. On one hand the National Anthem is a symbol of unity, a prayer and a call to action.
On the other hand, we divided the Kenya National Anthem in two three parts: Ask for, Ask to be and Ask to do. Meaning the Anthem is a prayer to the God of all creation Asking for provision, Asking to become individuals and a nation that reflects His character and Asking to do our part as Kenyan Citizens who also belong to the Kingdom of God.
May the Lord help us to be found faithful in prayer, in becoming like Him our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ and in action.
Let us pray Father, thank you for speaking to us. Spurring our hearts this morning as we reflected on the Kenya National Anthem and your Word. Let your Word bear fruit in us 30, 60 and 100 fold. To the glory and honor of your name. In Jesus Name we pray.
PS: This sermon was first delivered at Thika Road Community Church. Versions of it were also delivered at Deliverance Church Kahawa Sukari and in Maai Mahiu