There’s a famous speech in Shakespeare’s play Henry V. It’s the night before the battle of Agincourt. As a young king, Henry prepares to lead the knights of England in battle against the vastly superior forces of France. Henry’s warriors are tired. They are outnumbered. They are far from home. The night before the battle, the king wanders through the camp in disguise and mingles with his men. He’s inspired by their courage and moved by their loyalty to king and country, even in the face of death. The next morning, he gathers his men together and rallies them with a speech. There is a line in his speech that could have been written by Paul to the church in Philippi:
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers; For he today that sheds his blood with me Shall be my brother …
Henry reminds the men of the greatness of their cause, the honor that will be theirs for having fought in a conflict of such consequence. He reminds them, too, of the special bond that is and will be theirs for having braved the battle together. He tells them that every year, people will remember the battle of Agincourt. He tells them that people will wish that they had been at that battle and part of the “band of brothers.”
Those words live on these many centuries later because they speak so eloquently of the bond that is formed between people when they are enlisted together in a common cause. Something happens when people serve together. When they struggle side by side, when they make some shared sacrifice in pursuit of some worthy goal, they form a special bond and are shaped forever by that experience. And what’s true of soldiers on the field of battle is true of Christ’s followers as we work together serving in the Kingdom of God.
I am proud to serve in the Kingdom of God with you, my band of brothers and my circle of sisters. And together we can say with Paul, “Yes, and I will continue to rejoice, for I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliverance.” (Philippians 1:18b-19)