As I scanned the sea of impassive faces on the train on the way to work this morning, it struck me that while nothing looked out of the ordinary, things were no longer the same for my country of Singapore. A week ago, our founding father, Mr Lee Kuan Yew, had passed away at the age of 91.
The tears shed, queues formed and tributes poured out over the past week was an unprecedented display by Singaporeans. We cried and grieved together in solidarity as we mourned the passing of the man who once cried for our nation 50 years ago. Here was a man who lived and breathed everything Singapore, building up a nation of mudflats into a bustling metropolis, and moving our status from third world to first world in just one generation. Whether we knew him personally or not, the legacy that he left was undeniable. His death affected many of us deeply.
While I had never met Mr Lee in person, tears came to my eyes as I watched his cortege travel past onlookers who braved the torrential rain and shouted his name during the funeral procession, and listened to the eulogies at the state funeral. As his son, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, had described it, it was as if the light that had guided us all these years had been extinguished. Perhaps, behind the poker faces of some of my fellow commuters this morning, there was sorrow, intermingled with the realization that there would never be another one like Mr Lee Kuan Yew.
Yet, amid the pain of loss and grief, I felt a sense of optimism and hope. One era had passed, but a new chapter had begun. Mr Lee had built a strong nation, and it was the current generation’s responsibility not just to acknowledge his legacy, but to keep it alive and build on it to make Singapore an even better home. For those of us who have been privileged enough to live in the time of this great man, I believe the onus is on us to share with the next generation stories about Mr Lee and what he did for the country. For those of us who belong to the generation that has never experienced the atrocities of war, perhaps we could heed calls to never take peace and stability for granted, and to keep living out the values he stood for. It seems that the best way to remember his death is to share and live out his life’s legacy.
And perhaps this attitude of remembrance is befitting as we commemorate the death of another leader in just a few days—Jesus Christ, the one who changed the course of history more than 2000 years ago, when He came into this world as a man. Jesus gave His life to serve His people, to the extent of dying on the cross for our sins even though we were completely undeserving.
The epitaph for Sir Christopher Wren, architect of London’s St Paul’s Cathedral, says: “If you seek his monument, look around you.” Likewise, if we seek Christ’s monument, we only need to look around us. As Romans 1:20 says, “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse” (Romans 1:20).
On this Good Friday, I want to continue Jesus’ legacy—to take time to remember all that He had done, tell others His life story, and live out His teachings in my life.