Happy New Year Everyone! In the next several hours and days you and I will share and receive that greeting a number of times. Wishing others a happy new year is a good custom. But what is a happy new year? I would like to share some thoughts about the meaning of those three words.

Let’s focus on the word “year” first. A year is a measure or milestone of time. If time was a race, a year would be a marker. Ask any runner and they will tell you how important a marker is. It confirms accomplishment. Maybe 2011 is a special year for you because it will mark the year you graduate, get married, or retire. If time was a book, a year would be a chapter. We celebrate a new year like we enjoy finishing a chapter of a book only to begin another.

That leads me to the word, “new.” We Americans are in love with the word “new” and why not? The Bible likes the word “new” too. It speaks of positive things like a new birth (spiritual birth), a new and living way (walk with Jesus), a new song, a new hope and a new Heaven and Earth. New is good. Using the book analogy again, maybe the reason we are excited about finishing a chapter is because it was boring or painful. Beginning a new chapter can be very hopeful. So can a new year! If you had a dull or hurtful 2010, I hope this New Year begins something better.

Finally, and perhaps most elusive, is the word “happy.” Of the three words in our greeting, this word is the one we underscore the most. We wish for others a New Year that will be happy. But what will make any New Year happy? Different people answer that in different ways. The things that this world offers are very conditional and superficial and lead to disappointing results. Basing our happiness on them may or may not bring the happiness we seek. As we begin 2011, I wish you a Happy New Year based on the clear and limitless happiness that only the Lord can bring. Consider Lamentations 3:19-26. You’ll note that the Lord’s compassions (mercies) never fail; and that ARE NEW EVERY MORNING, not just every year.

Lamentations 3:19-26.

19 I remember my affliction and my wandering,the bitterness and the gall.

20 I well remember them,and my soul is downcast within me.

21 Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope:

22 Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed,for his compassions never fail.

23 They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.

24 I say to myself, “The LORD is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.”

25 The LORD is good to those whose hope is in him,to the one who seeks him;

26 it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD.

May the compassions of the Lord bring you a Happy New Year. If you are not sure what the compassions of the Lord are, I would love to share that with you!