Over the last three Sundays, we've studied the lives of Andy and Maggie Trocmé and their nephew, Daniel. Their selfless response to the agonizing realities of wartime France saved the lives of Jewish citizens and refugees from across Europe fleeing the Nazi regime. I can't help but wonder what my thoughts, actions, and message would have been if I had been in their shoes.
Of course, the Trocmés did not live in a vacuum. Their lives were lived in a particular location surrounded by specific people and a definite set of circumstances. We call such a setting a "ministry context." Their ministry context, the little French village of Le Chambon, included a few thousand residents and a couple thousand nearby farmers who relied upon the village for trade. Each of these households faced its own questions of how to respond to the war being fought around them and later, the German army occupying their streets and homes.
How might the residents of Le Chambon respond? What is peace in such a reality? Perhaps the message of John 1:9 resounded in their memories. “The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world.”
It isn’t so much that the light of Christ suddenly made the shadows of the Third Reich disappear. History tells us tremendous suffering, torture, and death ensued. It is more that the light of Christ enabled the villagers to see through the shadows and recognize themselves and their town in the midst of it all. Though wickedness and cruelty seemed the norm elsewhere, the people of Le Chambon must have asked themselves, “Who are we and what will we do to shine this Light?”