Philip Yancy in his book, “Grace Notes: Daily Readings with a Fellow Pilgrim” quotes former Senator Sam Nunn as saying, “The Cold War ended not in a nuclear inferno, but in a blaze of candles in the churches of Eastern Europe.”
Yancy goes on to say, “Candlelight processions in East Germany did not show up well on the evening news, but they helped change the face of the globe. First a few hundred, then a thousand, then thirty thousand, fifty thousand, and finally five hundred thousand—nearly the entire population of the city—turned out in Leipzig for candlelight vigils. After a prayer meeting at St. Nikolai Church, the peaceful protestors would march through the dark streets, singing hymns. Police and soldiers with all their weapons seemed powerless against such a force. Ultimately, on the night a similar march in East Berlin attracted one million protestors, the hated Berlin Wall came tumbling down without a shot being fired.”
A single candle in the darkness shines light to guide the way. One candle multiplied by hundreds gives encouragement. Thousands added together become a movement. In East Germany five hundred thousand candles set in motion the shattering of a wall.
Looking at our problems in the world today, it can be tempting to tell ourselves that nothing can be done. It is tempting to believe that fate will have its way and we are simply pawns in someone else’s battle. It is tempting to pretend that one person cannot make a difference. But, one person added to another and another and another can become a movement. East Germany’s candles began with prayer. Who would have thought that the power of prayer and some candles could pull a Berlin Wall down or tear apart the system of apartheid in South Africa? Throughout history there have been people, who leaning on and trusting in the light of Christ, have altered the course of history. In the hands of God what appears hopeless can be transformed. Christ came, not just for a season of sentiment, but as a living force of light and goodness for all time.
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” John 1:1-5