New Year’s Eve sends much of the world’s attention to New York City to see the Times Square Ball drop. Celebration of New Year’s is part of a sparkling rhythm to our brief lives. That natural movement helps us to look ahead. We hope for what may come. And, at New Year’s we remember what has gone away in the year and years past.
In 2011 the world lost Vaclav Havel, the former dissident playwright who became the first president of Czechoslovakia after it overthrew Communist rule in 1989. His slogan remains: “May truth and love triumph over lies and hatred.” President Havel was 75 when he was called to judgement before God.
Let’s recall four other passings from recent years:
1. Diana, Princess of Wales. She left this earth after a royal wedding, lots of public service, a divorce, and then a high speed car crash in a tunnel after partying in Paris. It was the last week of August, 1997.
2. Five days later, Mother Theresa died. After 45 years of serving serving the poor, sick, suffering, and dying in India, she suffered a heart attack in Rome.
Such starkly different lives, but leading to the same place—judgment before the throne of God.
One time when adulation was being heaped on Mother Theresa for her Nobel Prize, for the great things she had done, Mother Theresa said this: “We can do no great things, but only little things with great love.”
Two women. Two funerals. One judgment. Reminds me of the poem: “We’ve only one life — ‘twill soon be past, only what’s done for Christ will last.”
3. Remember Osama Bin Laden? He was killed with a shot to the head by a Navy Seal. It was the first week of May, 2011.
4. Five days earlier Rev. David Wilkerson died in a car crash.
Bin Laden had made his mark in the world — killing thousands, most maybe at the World Trade Center, in New York.
David Wilkerson, made his mark — ministering to the gangs of New York City. A book and movie were made of that story, The Cross and the Switchblade. Wilkerson went on to found Teen Challenge, and Times Square Church.
Again, two vastly different lives: Bin Laden, the founder of al-Qaeda; Wilkerson, the founder of several ministries.
Two men. Two funerals. One judgment. Again, “We’ve only one life — ‘twill soon be past, only what’s done for Christ will last.”
This new year, may Vaclav Havel’s slogan ring true for our time that still remains, “May truth and love triumph.