When something gets ‘handed over’ it gives a sense of something serious has just been accomplished. A contract is signed and ‘handed over’, the cost of an item is priced and the money is ‘handed over’. A parcel previously ordered is ‘handed over’ at the doorway… yes, when something is ‘handed over’ something which matters is taking place.
In the wedding service there is a ‘handing over’ as the couple give to each other a ring. These rings are ‘handed over’. The bride and the groom say the words ‘all that I am I give to you’ when this ‘handing over’ takes place. It’s serious, it matters and it’s full of joy and grace. Often at this time there will be tears of love, as the ring is placed on the finger. This is a ‘handing over’ of life and this really does matter.
December marks the beginning of Advent where we get ourselves ready for the ‘handing over’ of divine life. In these December days, in all the shortness of daylight hours, in the chill of the breeze, the dampness and all the darkness we are invited to consider and feel the gift of life. Slow down, learn not to rush, step cautiously and begin to feel this life we hold in our flesh and bones. The vitality, the breath, the very physicality of it all is a gift, one amazing gift and it’s been handed over to us. We have people – family and friends – around us who help us to grow and appreciate – but in the end it’s down to each one of us to take responsibility for the life entrusted to us. And this matters!
It matters, because when we take it all for granted, we lose perspective and get irritated and frustrated by things that really don’t matter. When the days just roll into each other, when there is no welcome given to each new day, when one day could really be any old day, we inhabit a gracelessness which creeps up on us without us knowing.
In the darkness of the Advent season we switch on our hearts and brains to the fact so obvious yet so unnoticed – we have been given life for at least this next day – don’t take it for granted!
When the Christmas season arrives, on the night of Christmas Eve, this gift of life is acclaimed and underlined in capital letters… candles lit, carols sung, gifts unwrapped. In the baby born to Mary,God hands himself over. The God-life is helpless, born in a manger, cradled by the working shepherds… God is ‘handed over’.
Here begins the blueprint for the way to live our lives. Dare to be the person who ‘hands themselves over’ to each new day. Yes we may have a schedule, things on the ‘to do’ list, but let’s live each day with that sense we are ready for the unexpected – be that a chance encounter, a rainbow in the sky, an interruption… Each new day is ‘handed over’ to us – it’s a gift and it has come from heaven. It matters, it’s important and it’s overflowing with a joy and grace beyond our wildest imaginings.
Many people just don’t understand it, they believe and act as though this gift of life is a ‘right’ and not a ‘gift’. For these people they will be forever entangled in the frustrations and irritations of a fragile yet utterly sophisticated thing called life, but for others, for those who recognise and allow an appreciation of the gift there will be blessing, gratitude and an energy both real and tangible.
Something really precious and important has been ‘handed over’… receive it and be forever grateful… Amen!