Saturday, October 15, 2016
We Declare that the Kingdom of God Is Here -- Graham Kendrick
Sometime during 36-year-old Graham Kendrick’s life in the mid-1980s he felt a need to celebrate. So, he did this the way only a songwriter can do – by writing enough songs to fill an album. It was no accident that his inspiration came from a bible, where he read about another celebration centuries earlier, when something was first uttered, and then repeated later, as if a whole chorus had joined in to say “We Declare that the Kingdom of God Is Here”. Some might think it odd that he could say that in 1980s England (see picture of the nation’s coat of arms here), where he was born, lived, and still resides, because of the secularist movement in the nation, and indeed among many places in the world. How would one answer skeptics who scoff at God and at faith in a being one cannot physically see?
Graham Kendrick must have been well-prepared by 1986 to defend his faith, following a childhood upbringing and an already multi-decade career writing Christian songs. He’s the son of a Baptist pastor, from which his faith roots must have been dug deep, spawning his own career as a public man of faith, through songwriting, by the late 1960s. By 1987, Kendrick and some international collaborators had bred something called the March for Jesus, including one through London in 1987. Was it possible that Kendrick and his fellow believers at the time were troubled by the secularism they observed, including in England where nonbelievers were prevalent, including the author Richard Dawkins who penned The Blind Watchmaker in 1986? One can imagine these circumstances in which Kendrick lived, and see him reading prophecy and Jesus’ preaching in his bible (Isaiah 61:1-3, Matthew 4:17) as he considered how to respond to cynics of religious faith. Kendrick’s album Make Way for The King of Kings - A Carnival of Praise, in the same year as Dawkins’ book may indeed have been Kendrick’s way to answer the cynic. His words were not his own in “We Declare…”, one of the album’s songs, but instead were akin to how Jesus responded to Satan in the wilderness – with scripture. It must have made any criticism easier for Graham to endure, knowing that he was following a well-worn path in 1986 made by the one he still follows today.
What might Graham say today is the best way to say what he did in 1986? Taking a page out of Jesus’ way to declare His kingdom – with healing and care for the needy – Graham has been promoting something called Compassion International. By tackling poverty, especially among children worldwide, Kendrick says that over 127,000 children became believers via Compassion International’s efforts in the last year. How is the kingdom of God near, you say? It’s through us who believe, and put that faith out there for others to grab onto. Graham’s song is one of action, not just words. It’s a celebration of how He’s helped us poor beggars to help others. Amen.
Composer’s biography here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Graham_Kendrick
Composer’s official website: http://www.grahamkendrick.co.uk/
Link shows the album theme on which song appears: http://www.invubu.com/music/show/song/Graham-Kendrick/We-Declare.html
See link here to a movement the composer and others organized in the mid-to-late 1980s: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/March_for_Jesus
A counter-faith movement was part of the era in which the composer operated in mid-1980s England, represented by a book at this link: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Blind_Watchmaker