During Holy Week, April 14 to 20, we will remember Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem, praying in the garden, His arrest, trial, beating, crucifixion, death and burial.

Holy Scripture explains that while Jesus was in the grave, He took the keys of death and hell from the devil. (See: Rev. 1:18) Jesus, the Christ, gathered-up all the darkness of sin, imperfection, death, hell, and the grave, and defeated it once for all.

On Sunday, April 21, we will celebrate the day Jesus rose from the dead, finally defeating death and the grave. There is no need for Jesus to return to the grave, and there is no need for His followers to fear the grave.

Although darkness will never again have un-checked dominion over anyone again, each one of us must make a choice.

The choice boils-down to choosing Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, or allowing darkness to have dominion over us. Choosing Jesus is not just about making a proclamation of faith, receiving the Sacraments of Baptism and Communion, and being involved in a church.

Choosing Jesus is about all of these things, plus making real changes in our lives to continue the proclamation of the Gospel.

”If we are free, we are free indeed!” (John 8:36) Jesus broke free from the tomb of death, defeating the finality of imperfection and death, and opening the way for human spirits to join Him in the heavenly kingdom.

The grace of God in Christ provides forgiveness of sin and freedom from guilt. Grace gives us the strength to amend our lives to demonstrate that darkness has no place in our lives. The tomb of Jesus is empty. Is the tomb of your heart empty?

Many of us hold-on to the darkness of our past. Perhaps because it is familiar and somehow comfortable. Some people feel better, or more natural, when they wallow in the guilt of the past.

Perhaps they have been taught that feeling bad makes them more holy. Perhaps they have not been properly taught about forgiveness, and believe grace is conditional. (Eph. 2:8-9 and Romans 6:14, et al)

Perhaps they have been under the sinister control of a leader that uses guilt to control followers. To the contrary, the purpose of the Gospel is to assure us that as the tomb of Jesus is empty, the tomb of darkness-of-the-heart that any of us may face, can be empty as well.

The resurrection of Jesus Christ and the message of the Gospel are intended to free us from all darkness, including the darkness we may be placing on ourselves, by not forgiving ourselves.

Guilt is a useless emotion; it does not lead to healing. Love leads to healing. The love of God in Christ can empty the tomb of your heart and allow you to live a life of real freedom and peace.

Accept the Love of God in Christ, and learn to forgive yourself. Happy Easter Season.

Blessings and Peace to You All,

Fr. David+

Rev. Dr. David Bridges is the pastor at St. Andrew's Episcopal Church in Grove. He can be reached at frdavid@standrewsgrove.org. St. Andrew's worship service is at 10 a.m., every Sunday, and broadcast on KWXC 88.9 FM at noon on Thursdays and at 5 p.m. on Saturdays.