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I grew up in a time when churches used only one translation of the Bible–the King James version.  And the Christmas story from Luke 2 began with these words: “In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed, and everyone went to be taxed.”  I can’t help but notice the irony that we are reading about Roman taxation the very same weekend that #45 signed a tax bill.

In those days, Caesar Augustus–anointed Lord, Son of God, Savior of the World, and Preserver of Roman greatness–said ‘jump’, and everyone jumped. Caesar said, ‘move’ and everyone moved. Caesar said, “register,’ and everyone registered–including Joseph and Mary, who were forced by executive order to travel to Bethlehem.  What sounds like a game of “Simon Says” is no game at all.  This is life under oppressive Roman occupation.  And everyone–including Joseph and Mary–is reminded of just who is in control.

But the policy and agenda of Caesar is no match for the plan and purpose of God. The oppression of Rome gives birth to the alternative to Rome.  While Mary and Joseph are in Bethlehem, Mary gives birth to a baby boy.  This baby is God’s official response to Caesar.  “You are not in control. A newborn lying in a feeding trough is the long-promised ‘Prince of Peace.’  This is Christ, the true Lord.  Imposter Lord Caesar, you’re fired.”

The invasion forces of heaven announce the good news to shepherds–low-wage, working-class nobodies at the bottom of the social ladder. A cryptic star appears to foreigners–far from Bethlehem, but still within the orbit of Rome–and announces the arrival of the true King of the Jews, the Deliverer of the Oppressed and the Savior of the nations. The Christmas Resistance has begun. And the rest is history.

So, Lord Caesar can sign as many tax bills as he wants. Lord Caesar can force the relocation of all the holy families. Lord Caesar’s henchman can carry out infanticide in Bethlehem, and silence the voices in the wilderness.  Lord Caesar can even execute the Christ. But Lord Caesar can never stop the movement of God.

The Shalom of Yahweh will replace the Pax Romana. The Empire will fail. Caesar will fall. The kingdom of heaven will prevail. And one day, even Caesar will fall to his knees and confess, ‘Jesus is Lord.’  JESUS IS LORD.

In these days, Caesars by other names issue their decrees, exert their control and display their power. But we have heard the angels sing.  We have seen the star in the east.  We have come and worshipped at the manger. So today, we boldly proclaim: “Joy to the world, the true Lord has come.”  And tomorrow and the next day and the day after that, we will repeat the sounding joy.

The Christmas Resistance continues.

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