Luke the Gospel-writer quotes John the Baptizer quoting Isaiah the Prophet to declare that our preparations for the Lord to arrive must include the rough ways made smooth. One might say that Isaiah, John, and Luke rub up against each other. Most days, I pass by this bench, with its peeling paintwork and its broken slat. It is rough; and yet, ironically, the thing that will make it smooth is to subject it to sandpaper, to abrasion under a loving hand. Not once, but regularly. And this is how we, too, are made smooth: our rough edges worn off by the rough edges of our sisters and brothers, under the loving hand of God who creates, redeems and sustains us.