The new moon, as its name suggests, renews itself; how marvelous it is in this change, a beacon to the hosts on high, shining in the vault of the heavens! (Sirach 43:8)
From the Apocrypha comes this apt metaphor to represent the renewal we seek during this Advent season of contemplation and preparation. To astronomers, the new moon by definition cannot be seen from Earth; the moon is in conjunction with the sun, its dark side facing the earth. Thus, the photograph I attached does not, in fact, depict the new moon, but only the barest sliver of light as the moon’s face emerges from the darkness of the new moon and begins its monthly journey around the Earth.
As with the lunar phases, so it is with our lives; it is during times of darkness that we become most keenly aware of the need for renewal. We cannot see our way ahead. We wallow in self-pity, blame ourselves or others, lash out in pain and bitterness. But then a bare sliver of light reminds us that we are not alone, and renewal is possible. Perhaps, though, we need to seek renewal most during times of satisfaction and stasis. We can’t imagine anything different or better, we say “What a good boy am I!” and forget that our strength is in the Lord.
The cycles of the liturgical calendar provide us with an annual reminder of the waxing and waning of our spiritual lives. Advent and Lent, of course, are the seasons most closely associated with the process of renewal. During both, we examine the dark sides of our lives and emerge into the light of the Son.
My prayer for this Advent is that we may accept according to the seasons of our own lives the Lord’s eternal promise of renewal–whenever we need it most.
The Lord, your God, is in your midst . . . ; he will rejoice over you with gladness, he will renew you in his love; he will exult over you with loud singing. (Zephaniah 3:17)