We few, we happy few, we band of brothers

24 Nov

One of the most rousing battle speeches of all time must be the one Shakespeare puts in the lips of King Henry V before the Battle of Agincourt on the Feast of St. Crispian.

The scene finds the English army outnumbered, broken and losing hope.  And it takes a brilliant leadership speech by Prince Hal (who is now King Henry V) to rally the troops to action:

That he which hath no stomach to this fight, 
    Let him depart; his passport shall be made, 
    And crowns for convoy put into his purse; 
    We would not die in that man’s company 
    That fears his fellowship to die with us. 
    This day is call’d the feast of Crispian….
    Then will he strip his sleeve and show his scars, 
    And say ‘These wounds I had on Crispian’s day.’…
    We few, we happy few, we band of brothers; 
    For he to-day that sheds his blood with me 
    Shall be my brother; be he ne’er so vile, 
    This day shall gentle his condition; 
    And gentlemen in England now-a-bed 
    Shall think themselves accurs’d they were not here, 
    And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks 
    That fought with us upon Saint Crispin’s day.

I was thinking about this other day when Rev. B.J. Weber was speaking the other day at The Hartford Society gathering I was at.

He said something interesting…

The Hartford Society (which is a chapter of a much larger ministry, originally known as The New Canaan Society) is a ministry to men, mostly in the marketplace.  One of the things they do is an amazing annual retreat.  B.J. was saying that at this retreat — and even in the early days of the fellowship at their regular meetings) they often would provide an early AA meeting before the main session started.

Why? Because so many of the men coming to to the fellowship were fighting and dealing with addictions — alcohol, drugs, food, porn, sex, what have you.  Keep in mind that these are almost all successful, upstanding men who are well-respected at work, in their churches and in their communities.  But they are also often terribly broken and dealing with dark demons that few others may know about.

As a pastor (note I don’t say “former pastor” — you don’t need a paycheck to be a pastor… you just gotta follow the Good Shepherd and try to shepherd a few around you) I can tell you that there is an army of wounded soldiers — men and women — sitting in the pews of the local church.  

They know they are wounded.  Hypothetically we all know that everyone is wounded a little bit.  But few know the depths of the pain and brokenness and woundedness that many feel.

A couple of thoughts:

1. Wounded soldiers can still fight the battle! (See Henry’s speech below!) So don’t give up!  Keep fighting!  The church — and the world — desperately need you!

2. The church needs to become a place where is no shame in being wounded.  The church needs to be a place where people can name their wounds, acknowledge them and deal with them within community. As B.J. reminded the men who were in Hartford last week, “you need to get past your shame and guilt before you can be restored.”  And I would add, the broader church community needs to release people from their shame and guilt so that they can be restored!

3. If we could mobilize the wounded in the pews, the local church would indeed be an unstoppable force for good, grace, and justice in the world.  In other words, if the local church is the hope of the world it is only because of the work God is doing in and through very broken and sinful people.  And for the church to fulfill its full redemptive potential, it needs to mobilize its wounded army.

4. If the church is not a place for the worst of sinners to find a home and fellowship and acceptance and unconditional love and grace — then the church has ceased being the church and should close its doors.  Period.

So… to my wounded brothers and sisters… there is a battle that needs to be fought.  We are broken and outnumbered and the odds are against us.  But we know that any number plus God is enough.  And so let us rise, broken soldiers — we few, we happy few, we band of brothers and sisters — and fight the good fight for the sake of the Kingdom… and of Shalom… and of our Savior.

And if you need some good, old-fashioned motivation, watch this:

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Posted by on November 24, 2009 in Uncategorized


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