Beginnings and Endings (and what happens in between) Beginnings and Endings (and what happens in between)
Daily Bible readings from Advent to Epiphany

Maggi Dawn
ISBN 9781841015668 (1841015660)
BRF (Bible Reading Fellowship), 2007
£7.99

Category: Devotional
Subcategory: Advent & Christmas
Reviewed by: Jody Stowell

Beginnings and Endings is a devotional reflection from Advent to Epiphany. In that sense it is 'Anglican' and relates to our (myself being Anglican) church calendar in a way which makes it relevant and helpful.

But regardless of that particular denominational bias (and I am aware that other denominations run through a similar calendar), this set of devotional Bible readings is, in my opinion, universally beneficial.

I spent the time through 1st December to 6th January enjoying my moment with Maggi and God each day. Tempting as it was to read more than one day at a time, I managed to restrain myself to the day allocated and was treated to a journey through many journeys.

The devotional is split into six sections: taking us through the beginnings of the gospels and exploring what that means for the Christmas story as a whole, Maggi then moves onto Abraham and the outworking of God's promises from long ago, the prophets and those involved in the business of bringing in the Kingdom, then the angelic announcements and the way we all respond to God's call, the specific responses of Mary and Joseph and finally looking at the end of the birth narratives and Jesus' own life.

These different sections help us to piece together where the focus of Christmas, the Incarnation, fits with the rest of the Story: God's work in Israel and His proclamation through the prophets, through to the stories of Mary, Joseph, Simeon, Zechariah and Elizabeth among others.

The focus on the many stories surrounding these events allows Maggi to interweave other stories in - parts of her own story, and the stories of others. There is a life to the reflections that she brings because of this story-centred perspective and they are both thought provoking and relevant to contemporary life circumstances. Some of the reflections may seem to overlap, simply due to the nature of the story, however this allows for the embedding of a new perspective on these old familiar stories and so does not detract from the overall flow of the readings.

In addition to this, Maggi has also made it theologically easily accessible. There are concepts built in to the reflection which, possibly, might be considered 'too academic' for devotional bible readings, but which Maggi explains and explores comfortably and simply.

I was personally delighted with this set of Bible notes. To find something that was theologically robust, intellectually, emotionally and spiritually stimulating, and contextually relevant was a great joy to me.

I thoroughly recommend these notes at any time of year, but particularly through advent, when our own stories are so busy.

Jody Stowell, January 2008

Jody Stowell is a theology student at Spurgeon's College, which trains baptists for ministry and mission. She, however, is an Anglican, and soon to begin training for ordained ministry in the Church of England. She is also a self-confessed internet junkie and can be found commenting about most things on her own blog www.radical-evanglical.blogspot.com and on Fulcrum forums, where she is on the leadership team.

BRF (Bible Reading Fellowship)

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