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Greetings people of the Diocese of Olympia. I speak to you today from the traditional and hereditary lands of the Duwamish people.

I don’t know if you’ve noticed it or not, but the visuals that Greg Hester here on the staff has been coming up with for the different moments of the liturgical year are different than they’ve been in the past. This has been at my request, and I thank Greg for accommodating me on this, for you see, I want visuals that reflect our particular Pacific Northwest context. And so for Easter, Greg and I had to say no to a visual of an empty cross rising up against what was clearly not for me, a Pacific Northwest sky. Likewise, we had to reject a visual of a large bunch of white hothouse lilies that did not reflect vegetation in this part of the world.

What we finally settled on was a tulip field, the kind you would see in the Skagit Valley in April, purple tulips, royal tulips, bursting out of dark mounds of earth next to the rain-filled troughs. All of this, of course, not under pink candy-colored heavens, but under a cloudy, probably cold Pacific Northwest sky. And so Easter and the new life it brings come to us not looking like hothouse lilies. No, instead, it comes to us in a preposterous burst of life from something seemingly inert under the real cloudy cold sky that we all know so well.

In Matthew’s Gospel of the Resurrection, after the women are told that Jesus has risen, Jesus appears to them himself and tells them to go tell the disciples that he will go ahead of them to Galilee. I take this to mean that he will go ahead of them and meet them in the real joys and challenges, and places of their lives.

And so people of the Diocese of Olympia, look for the resurrected Christ here in this place. Look for him now in this time. Look for him in the mud, the cold, the clouds, and the rain. Look for him in the astonishing beauty of sun and in the ice cold ocean lake and river waters. Look for him in majestic mountains, which are in fact volcanoes. Look for him in this place where many areas and towns have First Nations names. Look for him in Pacific Northwest reticence, and in Pacific Northwest ambivalence about church itself, and look for him in the reality of your lives. All the beauty, and joy, and boredom, and terror of it.

For the resurrected Christ goes before us, the resurrected Christ goes before us and meets us in the real world and in the real times we live in.

My very best wishes to you for a blessed and glorious Easter.

Easter 2023: A Message from Bishop Skelton

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