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Love Reborn – Br. James Koester

Br. James Koester

Luke 24: 1-12

There is a wonderful story told about Father Arthur Stanton[1], one of the great Anglo-Catholic slum priests of the nineteenth century. (Think here more Oliver Twist rather than Downton Abbey!) For over 50 years he was an assistant priest in the parish of St. Alban’s, Holborn in the Diocese of London, then an area of unspeakable poverty. Father Stanton was a tireless champion of the poor and an exuberant preacher. When he died in 1913 thousands of people lined the streets to pay their respects as the funeral procession made its way from the church to the cemetery. The story told of him is that he used to go to a street corner in his parish dressed in his black cassock, and stand there throwing his white surplice up into the air. He did this repeatedly until he had attracted a crowd of curious on lookers. Once the crowd around him was large enough, he would whip on the surplice, pull a stole out of his pocket, put it on, and begin to preach. Over time he became a well-known street preacher, both for the content of his preaching and for his attention grabbing theatrics!

Now if I were Father Stanton, today would be the perfect day to throw something into the air, because today of all days is day that demands our attention, for something absolutely incredible has happened.

On the first day of the week, at early dawn, they came to the tomb, taking the spices that they had prepared. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they went in, they did not find the body. While they were perplexed about this, suddenly two men in dazzling clothes stood beside them. The women were terrified and bowed their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen.”[2]

He is not here, but has risen!

What utter, utter nonsense. At least that’s what the disciples thought!

And returning from the tomb, they told all this to the eleven and to all the rest…. But these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them.[3]

And they did not believe them!

So many people are prepared to believe so many things, but not this.

We are prepared to believe that we should live in fear, but not in hope. We are prepared to believe in retribution, but not in forgiveness. We are prepared to believe in the power of anger, but not in the power of love. We are prepared to believe walls will keep us safe and that strangers are our enemies. So many people are prepared to believe in so much, but not in this.  These words seemed to be an idle tale, and they did not believe them.

But the promise of Easter is just that: it is the promise of hope and forgiveness and love come true. As unbelievable as the angels’ words seemed, they proved to be true and in a few hours the disciples would know them to be true, for the Risen Lord would appear to Cleopas and his companion on the road to Emmaus and in the breaking of the bread, to Simon Peter and soon to all those assemble in the Upper Room. This idle tale was true indeed.

In an age when words of fear, retribution and anger dominates the news and fills our ears, words of hope, forgiveness and love seem an idle tale at worst and unbelievable at best. Yet the promise of the Risen Lord is that hope, not fear has the last word. The promise of the Risen Lord is that forgiveness, not retribution has the last word. The promise of the Risen Lord is that love, not anger has the last word.

We live in a time when words of fear, retribution and anger speak loudest. Yet as an Easter people we know that the power of hope, trumps fear; we know that the power of forgiveness, trumps retribution; we know that the power of love, trumps anger.

Jesus rose from the dead, and hope was reborn.

Jesus rose from the dead, and forgiveness was rekindled.

Jesus rose from the dead, and love was renewed.

Hope and forgiveness and love are not the idle tales of a gossip. They are the signs of resurrection and new life. They are signs of God. Where you see hope in your life and in the world, there is the Risen Lord, there is God. Where you see forgiveness in your life and in the world, there is the Risen Lord, there is God. Where you see love in your life and in the world, there is the Risen Lord, there is God.

We should all be standing on street corners today throwing our hats, or gloves, or coats or even our surplices into the air, because Jesus Christ is risen from the dead, and hope in a world of fear has been reborn, and we want the world to know. Alleluia.

We should all be standing on street corners today throwing our hats, or gloves, or coats or even our surplices into the air, because Jesus Christ is risen from the dead, and forgiveness in a world of retribution has been reborn. Alleluia.

We should all be standing on street corners today throwing our hats, or gloves, or coats or even our surplices into the air, because Jesus Christ is risen from the dead, and love in a world of anger has been reborn. Alleluia.

We should all be standing on a street corner today throwing our hats, or gloves, or coats or even our surplices into the air, because Jesus Christ is risen from the dead, and hope and forgiveness and love are reborn, and we want the world to know. Alleluia.


[1] Father Arthur Stanton (1839 – 1913) was curate of St. Alban’s, Holborn in the Diocese of London from 1862 until his death in 1913.

[2] Luke 24: 1- 5

[3] Luke  24: 8 -11

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