Page 20 - 2016 winter Vine
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        by the Rev. Jan W. Dantone, associate rector

        Families are a gift from God. Indeed, families are one of God’s   the closest family we have because God has called us to be his
        fi rst gifts; God makes two individuals into a family within the   witnesses together.
        fi rst two chapters of Genesis. And God continues to give this
                                                               The Christians of the Diocese of Peshawar, Pakistan, are
        gift of family to people across time as he “sets the lonely in
                                                               some of those close brothers and sisters in God’s household
        families” (Ps 68:6, NIV). God intends for earthly families to be
                                                               of faith; we at St John the Divine are church family together
        a place where members support and care for each other in all
                                                               with them. And just like my relationship with my younger
        stages of earthly life. He also intends that our experience with
                                                               brother, this church family relationship is not one that we
        family relationships will help us understand the spiritual reality
                                                               knew enough to ask for. But God gave it to us when, years
        of being family with other Christians, of being brothers and
                                                               ago, then-parishioner David Grizzle and the Rt. Rev. Mano
        sisters in Christ and knowing the same loving Father.
                                                               Rumalshah, then-Bishop of Peshawar, sat next to each other
        One of the things about earthly family life is that we seldom   on an airplane. SJD’s relationship with our brothers and sisters
        choose our family members. God just gives them to us. For   in Pakistan was conceived in their conversation, and born
        example, I did not choose my younger brother, my only   when Bishop Mano fi rst came to visit us. Our relationship has
        sibling. I did not even ask for him—I was just less than two   grown as Bishop Mano and the Rt. Rev. Humphrey Peters,
        years old when he was born and I did not know how to ask   current Bishop of Peshawar, have visited Houston and us when
        for anything then, much less a baby brother. But I have lived   their travels brought them west, and as intrepid parishioners
        almost my entire life as his sister, and I would not have it any   traveled to Pakistan in earlier days. Bridges to Pakistan, a
        other way. His support and love mean the world to me, even   501(c)3 begun at SJD, is an institutional sign of our family
        when we are far apart.                                 relationship.
        Have you ever thought about who lives just down the hall   When Bishop Humphrey visited SJD this past July, he spoke
        from us in God’s house? Who has the metaphorical room next   about the role of Pakistani Christians in that very challenging
        door in God the Father’s very spacious family home? Who   part of the world and about how we at SJD can best support
        are our closest brothers and sisters? From the perspective of   our church family in Peshawar. Bishop Humphrey reminded us
        St John the Divine, our closest sisters and brothers in God’s   that our Christian brothers and sisters are called to be a source
        household of faith are the mission partners that God has   of peace, joy, and blessing in a part of the world that is all too
        given us. Our family members in mission might be far away   acquainted with violence, sorrow, and pain. The light of Christ
        physically, like our global partners; or they might be close   shines only where Christians live as visible testimony to that
        physically, like our local partners here in Houston. But whether   divine light by offering peace, joy, and blessing to all their
        they are halfway around the globe or only halfway across   Pakistani neighbors.
        town, the mission partners that God has given us are among
                                                               Bishop Humphrey declared that our family role is to remain

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