‘You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you, and then you will be my witnesses…. to the ends of the earth’ (Acts 1:8)
Over the next two years we will hear the above quotation from the Acts of the Apostles many many times, we will see it on badges and prayer cards, tee shirts and posters. It is the theme for the World Youth Day to be held in Sydney in two years time. While Sydney will be the venue, it presents a unique opportunity for the whole Church of New Zealand to be involved in an event which will bring gifts of grace to us. This will be the only time World Youth Day (five days of events in Sydney) will be held in the southern hemisphere. World Youth Day however is not just the five days in Sydney, there are months of preparation leading up to it, and we in New Zealand are in the privileged position this time to host ‘Days in the Diocese’.
I have been in the fortunate position of having attended two World Youth Days, in Rome and in Toronto. One of the biggest discoveries for me was that these events were not just for youth and young adults, but for the whole church. In July 2008 we will be honoured to host young people from other parts of the world as they make their way to Sydney. This will be a rare chance for us to extend New Zealand hospitality to those on pilgrimage to World Youth Day 2008. (Remember that hospitality was a major theme in the interviews leading up to last month’s synod.)
The Bishops of New Zealand have established a national committee, and each diocese has its own World Youth Day Committee. Our archdiocesan committee will be working hard over the next several months to involve the whole church of the archdiocese in this wonderful opportunity to welcome pilgrims from other parts of the world. It will be the chance for us to show others that we are witnesses to our faith as they come to the ‘ends of the earth’. Our committee will be inviting you to accept billets, asking parishes to host activities and there will be major diocesan celebrations of which all will be invited to be part.
Having experienced hospitality from parishes in Vancouver on our way to Toronto in 2002, I have seen what this can do for people of all ages. The vitality and energy which comes is a wonderful opportunity for us to be Salt and Light Together, not just different ages and groups in our diocese together, but different ages and nationalities together as we extend hospitality to visitors. Please all be ready to be involved in WYD 2008. We will ‘receive power when the Holy Spirit comes’; it will renew and energise us ‘to be witnesses to the ends of the earth’.
In the meantime please pray the prayer in preparation for WYD 2008.
Archbishop John Dew