There's another word also for ‘Time’ in NT Greek. It’s Chronos — the stuff by which you set your watch. The second word in my first sentence, Kairos is “time in its human context,” opportunity. Chronos runs smooth and regular, like a vibrating quartz crystal. Kairos is far more subtle and complex. Can you say how long, strictly speaking, was your first Kiss? Labour? Driving Test? wait for a scan result? You can give a figure, without beginning to explain what it really meant or why.
Advent is the time when everything comes full circle — The old year dies, and the whole story begins again. As we follow it through, we are put back in the position of people who had never heard of Christ, so that we can live the whole story from scratch, and capture something of its freshness and vitality, as well as opening up new possibilities we didn't see last time round. Thus we journey onward towards the city of infinite day, one step, one cycle at a time, refreshed and renewed on our way.
Maggi's book takes us through some Bible passages that may help unlock this process. She tracks the story through Christmas itself and right up to twelfth Night; giving a focus for eleven days that often disappear from my life into a kind of Blue Haze. Not this year. I don't want to give this book a flat review as though it were an academic treatise, because that's not the way it was designed to be used. What I will try and do is use it myself through Advent, reporting back occasionally how I'm getting on. I'm looking forward to a good poke around the roots of our faith, and a chance to turn some attention to some of the last things I usually want to think about, all anchored into some classical texts of exile, restoration and hope.
The biblical accounts of beginnings and endings tell us that the Christian faith is a journey that starts somewhere and goes somewhere. It's a journey that develops through time, rather than simply going round and round in an endlessly repeating cycle. the season of Advent, too, reminds us that we come from somewhere and we are going somewhere, and thinking about beginnings and endings helps us to rediscover meaning and purpose as we live in these times that are ‘in between’.