The Olympic flame first became a tradition of modern Olympic Games in 1928, when a flame was lit and remained burning at the entrance to the Olympic Stadium in Amsterdam. In 1936, the Berlin Games began with torchbearers running the flame into the Olympic Stadium. The relay of their torches had begun 12 days earlier with the flame ceremony in Olympia, Greece. As in any relay race, each runner carries the torch for only one short leg of its trip. As a runner completes a leg, he lights the torch of the next person in the relay, thus passing on the torch through the various countries participating in the Games.
Modern torch relay history has its roots in ancient Greece where the flame was kindled using a skaphia (a type of crucible). From Olympia, the flame was carried across Greece to Athens, and in a ceremony at the Panathenian Stadium, the flame was handed over to the host committee of the Games.
Torch relays suggest the light of spirit, knowledge and life is handed down from generation to generation, which is a beautiful metaphor for the children of God. While preaching the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus addressed believers as “the light of the world” (Matthew 5:14-15):
“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.”
Love is the bright light of God’s kingdom and everything Jesus stands for. He encourages His followers not to hide their light. Everybody who knows the Lord holds a torch and spreads light in the dark. I like to think that we pass on the torch to the next generation before we die. We will finish the race with success when we don’t give up on love.