Staff Note – Olivia Burne: Our Resurrection Hope

“Now this is the main point of the things we are saying: We have such a High Priest, who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens, a Minister of the sanctuary and of the true tabernacle which the Lord erected, and not man.”
(Heb 8:1-2 NKJV)

In the midst of a global pandemic, the Church’s seasons continue on. We have entered the season of Easter. Lent is over and the darkness of Maundy Thursday through to Holy Saturday has passed, and we’re now given the freedom to celebrate Jesus Christ’s resurrection to new life. This Easter season is, as always, good news.

But this Easter also feels unusual, for both obvious and mysterious reasons. Sunday’s Easter celebrations were live-streamed, rather than attended.  And while the sickness of COVID-19 sometimes feels distant and abstract in my bubble–I’ve been working from home, staying in a beautiful apartment in Kohimarama, Auckland, with people whom I love–the effects of this world-wide lockdown are close and immediate. “Normal” has gone, and many, many people are suffering. The world has entered a season of uncertainty, change to our daily and yearly norms, and physical or financial hardship, potentially both.

At the same time as Easter and COVID-19, I’ve been taking a survey course of the Old Testament at Otago University. In class, we’ve been exploring some of the pivotal moments of Judaism: the Exodus from Egypt, the giving of the Ten Commandments and the law, the establishment of the priestly caste, the instructions around building the tabernacle, and requirements to keep oneself holy and sanctified before the Lord. Already I have been given a richer understanding of the Jewish faith, tradition, and worldview, but also of Easter and of our current crisis.

And a lot centres on the truth that Christ’s resurrection changes everything. The old covenant of sacrificial mediation has been fulfilled, and our distance from the sanctity and holiness of God has been bridged. Christ is now our High Priest, standing in the gap and interceding for us before God’s holy throne. Christ’s resurrection reminds me that in all seasons, in prosperity and crisis, Christ has defeated death and is our hope, no matter what befalls us. Christ’s resurrection speaks to my own sin–the inner workings of my heart and my actions that fall far short of the glory of God; the anxiety, selfishness, and feelings of helplessness these past few weeks have highlighted–and tells me I’m sanctified before God, washed by the holy blood of Christ and made wholly adequate.

Even as we leave this season of lockdown, I don’t want to forget this resurrection hope. Thankfully, the Church’s Easter season won’t allow me to. In these strange and uncertain times, I’m joining with the writer of Hebrews and with the Church through time, remembering each day the radical victory won by Christ on the cross, and the power, wonder, and freedom of our resurrection hope.

“Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh, and having a High Priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled form an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.” (Heb 10:19-23 NKJV)