From “The Good Shepherd,” In Season and Out of Season, 129-130 (1993)

It is the task of the good shepherd to take the sheep to the good pastures. “I am the gate for the sheep,” Jesus said. The gate gives the sheep access to the pastures. Any good and caring shepherd must be greatly concerned about the welfare of the sheep.

God, through the prophet Ezekiel, rebuked the leaders of Israel for their sins of commission and omission against the sheep (Ezek. 34:2); eating the curds, clothing themselves with wool, and slaughtering the choice animals (Ezek. 34:4); neglecting the weak, the sick and the lost, and ruling with harshness (v. 4).

As a result of this, the sheep were scattered and wandered all over the mountains and became food for wild animals. My dear councilors and members of parliament, you were elected so that first and foremost you might take care of the flock entrusted to your care. In the past, some elected leaders were so skilled in the grabbing of public land that in some of our urban areas there are no plots remaining for such utilities as children’s playgrounds, cemeteries, or schools. Poor people have been removed from places where they have lived all their lives, merely to make room for tycoons to put up estates to enrich themselves or to extend their ‘vegetable gardens’ in the style of King Ahab of old…

We trust that the new generation of elected leaders will give the highest priority to caring for the poor and the voiceless; in all your efforts to fulfill these tasks, we in the leadership of the Church will give you all possible support, and if you fail to live up to your leadership calling, we shall challenge you fearlessly…

Whereas a thief and a robber comes only to steal and to destroy, the good shepherd does exactly the opposite. The purpose of the coming of Jesus Christ is that people might have life and have it more abundantly. At a time when the morale of the people is at its lowest ebb due to the escalating price of goods, the threat of AIDS, unemployment, etc., we need to give our lives to the good shepherd, Jesus Christ, who alone can bring new vitality to our nation, and who says, “I came that they may have life, and have it more abundantly.” Go to parliament and be a good shepherd.

David Gitari (1937-2013) was a Kenyan Anglican archbishop, the third primate of the Anglican Church of Kenya. He was a deeply committed evangelist and a leader in theological education, the founder of St. Andrew’s College of Theology in Kabare. As archbishop, he was bold in his criticism of political and social corruption. He preached this sermon at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church in Nairobi at a service for Kenyan parliamentarians on the eve of the opening of Kenya’s Seventh Parliament.