Daily Devotional 3-5-18

The Sacred Household of Resident Aliens: The Rudiments of a Reformed Parochial Theology

John Constable. “The Mill Stream, Verso: Night Scene with Bridge;” c.1810

Why “Parish?” Because “paroikos,”—from which came our English word “Parish,”—means (classical Greek) “near the household.” It also is used in the Bible (Koine Greek)  to refer to “strangers” (or, to borrow from Haurhaus and Willimon: “Resident Aliens,” 1989).

Peter writes of believers as “parishioners,” i.e., “paroikous” (παροίκους) in 1 Peter 2:11:

“Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles [παροίκους] to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul” (1 Peter 2:11 ESV).

The concept of “Parish” best describes the Bible’s (the Lord’s) demonstrated intent for the communal settling, spiritual, and evangelistic-numerical growth of believers: to be settled into an ordered pastoral community—a household of faith—where Word, Sacrament, and Prayer are offered in worship, work, and witness to enfold believers into the life of Christ in community (Acts 2:42).

Are we a “congregation?” Well, of course. A “church,”—ecclesia—? Indelibly so. But we quite Biblically a Parish: not merely a “district,” but a Christ-covenanted household of “resident aliens,” where pastor and people relate as spiritual family, and where we invite others to our Father, our God, through His only begotten Son, in the power of the Holy Spirit. Amen.


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