The Decree

The Decree

Today’s Scripture Selection: Luke 2:1

“And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed.”

They lived in a world in which they were constantly assailed by the “powers that be.”  When Rome spoke, people listened.  Either that or they would be quickly dispatched.  Nailed to a tree, others could see what was left of the defiant one, and learn a quick lesson in obedience.

Barely scraping out an existence under Caesar’s thumb, the word “tax” weighed especially heavily on these poor Jews.  They tried to keep their faith intact, they tried to carry on, but who could blame them for being discouraged and frightened.  “What next?” was probably often the question in their hearts and on their lips.

So, this “decree” was no small matter.

What they didn’t know – perhaps couldn’t know – was that the Emperor wasn’t in charge at all.  God was.

It was all playing out, just as it had been prophesied, for centuries.

The decree, the really important decree, wasn’t that Rome wanted a little more of their hard-earned money.  It was that the long awaited Messiah was about to arrive, right on schedule.

It’s helpful to remember, two thousand years later, that God is still in charge – not “Rome”.

We may be perplexed, burdened, frightened, but God’s plan is still unfolding, right on schedule.

So look up into the night sky.  Search the stars.  Dream a bit.  Imagine how it is that the universe is in proper order, even though your personal world may seem out of sorts at times.

God has issued His decree – has reached out in redemptive action – all is just as it should be.

By Paul Simrell

The Reverend Paul W. Simrell has served for over thirty years in a variety of congregational and institutional settings. He is a recognized minister with standing in the Virginia region of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the United States and Canada and is nationally endorsed by the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) for specialized ministry in both pastoral counseling and chaplaincy. Ordained in 1982, he has served congregations in Kentucky, Texas, Florida, and Virginia. He currently serves as the pastor of Elpis Christian Church, a small, historic congregation located just a few miles west of Richmond, Virginia. “Elpis” is the Greek word for “expectant hope.” He is a graduate of the University of Florida and Lexington Theological Seminary and has done advanced clinical training in chaplaincy and pastoral counseling at the University of Kentucky Medical Center in Lexington, Kentucky, Children’s Medical Center and Parkland Hospital in Dallas, Texas and the Virginia Institute of Pastoral Care in Richmond, Virginia. He is a Certified Pastoral Counselor, an ACPE Practitioner, a member of the American Association of Christian Counselors, and a member of Spiritual Directors International. He is a Certified Facilitator of the Prepare-Enrich relationship assessment and skills-building program and served as a volunteer chaplain for over twenty years with the CJW Medical Center campuses in Richmond, Virginia. His avocational interests include playing the piano and drawing. He is very happily married to his wife Elizabeth Yeamans Simrell, a free-lance writer, who is also a Certified Facilitator for the Prepare-Enrich program. Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton

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