The Rev'd Robert Warren.
"...repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things."
My Sunday School teachers made much of the Great Commission (and related pronouncements of Jesus) to "go forth" into the world. This was the late sixties in Western Canada and elements of the Anglican Church of Canada (and other mainline denominations) had begun to set aside old colonialist ideas that our task was to civilize and westernize foreign societies. One sensed rejoicing that God was present in the lives of African and Asian Christians as African and Asian people and not merely copies of a dominant culture from the West. The Spirit of God was abroad in the world. The parishes which my parents attended made much of this and I can still remember being told (and shown) how my link with the lives of Christians in other places was as important as my link to those of my own clan and nation.
As Jesus opens the minds and hearts of his disciples in the period of time which follows his Resurrection he says two things: First of all, the preaching of repentance and forgiveness of sins is to begin from home in Jerusalem and with the skills that they have presently at hand - from that place where the disciples find themselves on that very day. Their own experience of the risen Christ will be sufficient as subject matter. Even with the help of the Holy Spirit it will be the words of fishermen and small-scale artisans from the Galilee which will carry the message to the ends of the earth. Secondly, however, that local attachment will have its day. It is only provisional. It will, and must be, superseded. Christians belong to the world of the Kingdom more than they belong to their own nation, kin, language and social network. It only begins at home. It ends up elsewhere.
Our young people experienced some of this last Spring at Youth Across Europe as they mingled with members of Episcopal Churches in Italy, Switzerland and Germany who live and study in more than one language and who are gathered into parishes and youth groups in their place of residence as our young people are in theirs. These opportunities to mingle with other young Christians on an international level may be the lever which opens the door on a faith which has oftentimes been associated with parents and grandparents and with what is, perhaps, almost too well known. Jesus would open the world to us - to our churches - to our children. He who has ears to hear - let him hear.