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But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 1 Corinthians 15.57

By Sunday, World Cup frenzy will have reached its climax: will it be Argentina or Morocco or France who lifts the trophy? Fans will go wild, even though they had nothing to do with play on the field. Like Christmas come early. ..

At Christmas, Christians celebrate a victory we had nothing to do with achieving and yet whose bounty we are invited to enjoy. Like the Israelites after David defeated Goliath. They plundered the Philistine camp, even though the armies had simply spectated while David took on Goliath and secured a famous - if unlikely - victory.

In taking on sin, death and the Devil, God made his approach in an altogether counter-intuitive way, coming at them - not in his heavenly glory but - in the birth of a helpless baby. And it was his moment of apparent defeat - broken and bloody on a cross of shame - that Jesus snatched victory from the jaws of defeat, by breaking the power of sin and rising to new and eternal life.

Remember that, while the world plunges once more into its festival of (self-) indulgence, for Christians all the presents, food and conviviality is really in celebration of a victory which we did nothing to secure but whose spoils we delight in sharing.



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