Dear Friends,

This coming Sunday afternoon, while some of us will be in church, suitably masked, singing carols around the Christmas tree, the eyes of the rest of the world will be on Abu Dhabi. Why, you ask? Because it will be there that the dramatic climax to this year’s Formula 1 World Championship will play out. Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen go into Sunday’s showdown level on points, 370 each. Its almost as if it would be best to ask all the other drivers to stay home and just leave it to the two of them to go head-to-head. But of course, its not just about who is the best driver. Indeed, it might be that neither of the two main protagonists are the best. It may be that it just happens that they are driving the best cars. How much more interesting it would be – or would it? – if every driver was driving the exact same car…But as with every other aspect of life, the ideal and the real are always some distance apart. The ‘playing field’ is never that level. And when that thought struck me, all of a sudden, I began to appreciate the enduring significance of these words of the prophet Isaiah, found in chapter 40, verses 3 – 5…

‘…Clear a road through the wilderness for the Lord,

Prepare a highway across the desert for our God.

Let every valley be raised,

Every mountain and hill be brought low,

Uneven ground be made smooth,

And steep places become level.

Then will the glory of the Lord be revealed

And all of us together shall see it.

The Lord Himself has spoken…’

…And then too, words ascribed to Mary, the mother of Jesus, in what we know as the Magnificat, in Luke chapter 1, verses 52 – 53…

‘…He has brought down Monarchs from their thrones,

And raised on high the lowly.

He has filled the hungry with good things,

And sent the rich empty away…’

And this brings me to one of today’s most ‘overused’ catchphrases: ‘Levelling Up.’ While I get what it means in terms of political propaganda, when one stands back from it one is bound to concede that ‘levelling up’ just does not work. If resources, however they might be calculated are finite, ‘levelling’ requires some to be ‘brought up’, but this can only be achieved by others being ‘brought down’. The Christmas story tells of Shepherds being brought face to face with a King, whilst Kings were made to slum it in a stable. The miracle of Christmas, the story of Jesus is this: it is for everyone regardless. The love of God revealed in Christ is intended to persuade us that we are ‘all one in Christ Jesus.’

‘levelling up’ just does not work