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Wednesday, 1 January 2014

Happy New Year

I imagine that the words that head this post have been uttered millions of times, in various languages, over the past twenty-four hours.  It's a traditional greeting at this time of year - and not all that is traditional deserves to be discarded.

However, I wonder how many would react if they were to be wished "A Blessèd New Year"!?  Yet the word 'blessèd' simply means 'happy'.  In what has become known as The Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:1ff), the Lord Jesus uses that word 'blessèd' to introduce what are, on the surface, some strange ideas - especially when we replace it, as some modern translations do, with the word 'happy'.  

"Happy the kind; the clean in heart; the peacemakers" we may understand; but "Happy the mourning; the meek; those persecuted for righteousness' sake" (Young's Literal Translation) - well that's a different matter altogether!

The secret is that there is a much deeper meaning to this word than just the pleasant and favourable feeling that the majority seek. The word actually conveys the idea of fulfilment, and complete satisfaction.  In former times, the island of Cyprus was known as Ho Makarios - "the Blessèd” Isle - because it was believed to contain, within its bounds, everything necessary for life. It was self-contained and filled. This is the real meaning of blessedness, or happiness. This blessedness speaks of the actual realisation of a true satisfaction and fulfilled joy.   It is not something superficial, but something deep, and meaningful.

Such happiness, I would contend, is found only in a personal relationship with that same Jesus.  It's the happiness that comes from knowing that my sins have been forgiven; that I am accepted by Almighty God as I come to Him in the Name of Jesus; that when this mortal life ends, I have eternity to worship Him, and praise Him, at a level that is not possible while I inhabit this mortal body.

I enjoy classical music - especially from the Baroque era.  Sometimes, as I listen to a particularly majestic piece, I am transported in my mind to what can only be described as a state of ecstasy.  Yet nothing that I experience, in this life, can even begin to compare with that which I shall experience in the life to come.

A happy, blessèd new year is one thing; a blessèd eternity, in the nearer presence of the King of kings, is something completely different - and unimaginably more wonderful!  It's available to you - but only if you come to Him, "the Initiator and Perfecter of our faith" (see Heb.12:2), submitting to His Lordship in your life.  Then you will truly have A Happy New Year - this year, and every year, for as long as you live on this earth; and  a happiness beyond measure, throughout eternity.

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