"And when you look up to the sky and see the sun, the moon and the stars—all the Heavenly array—do not be enticed into bowing down to them and worshiping things the LORD your God has apportioned to all the nations under Heaven." –Deuteronomy 4:19
EDITOR'S NOTE: Although Dr. Buzz Aldrin was prevented from publicly reading Scripture while he took communion in the Lunar Module, he did manage to quote Psalm 8: 3-4 "When I consider Thy Heavens, the work of Thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which Thou has ordained; What is man that Thou art mindful of him? And the Son of Man, that Thou visitest him?" just before splashing down at the end of the Apollo 11 mission. –Aimee Herd, BCN.
For those of us who were old enough to comprehend what we, and the rest of the world, were intently watching on TV the evening of July 20, 1969—it was a day like no other. It was, of course, the day Astronaut Neil Armstrong stepped down the short ladder of the lunar landing module, and onto the surface of the moon for the very first time. (Photo: History Channel)
We squinted in attempts to bring into better focus the black and white images being beamed from our planet's encircling rock some 238,900 miles away. …A gleaming white space suit and helmet, bouncing, skipping and hopping on top of the dusty lunar ground. …The blackness of pure space in surrounding contrast.
All in all it was a pretty remarkable transmission for 1969.
Although I was only 8, I clearly remember the circumstances that put me in front of a TV that day. My parents, siblings and I were on vacation, traveling by car to our next destination in the barren "high desert" country of central-eastern Oregon. Since anything to do with space travel was a very big deal in our family (On several different occasions I remember the thrill of getting up in the middle of the night just to watch TV coverage of previous Apollo rockets' various "separation" stages); stopping some place where we'd be able to view Apollo 11's anticipated lunar landing was imperative.
Fortunately, at just about the "scheduled" time, we found a tiny restaurant with a TV in the bar. The law would not permit children to enter, but my father came to my rescue and sat me atop his shoulders so I could see over the swinging half-doors.
The moonwalk had center stage that day, as the bar fell silent, and restaurant patrons crowded in for a closer view. I watched the entire momentous event while piggyback on my daddy; keenly aware that I was witnessing history in the making.
Interestingly enough, Astronaut Buzz Aldrin had secretly taken along a communion kit, specially prepared by his church, so he could take communion there in the Lunar Module. It was kept secret due to the impending lawsuit brought against NASA after Astronauts Jim Lovell, William Anders and Frank Borman—a year earlier—had read the creation story from the book of Genesis on Christmas Eve, during the Apollo 8 mission. (Photo: History Channel)
Dr. Aldrin had prepared to read John 15:5 ("…I am the vine, you are the branches. Whoever remains in Me, and I in him, will bear much fruit; for you can do nothing without Me.") back to Earth, but—at NASA's request—ended up just reading what he'd written on a note card: "Houston, this is Eagle the LM Pilot speaking. I would like to request a few moments of silence. Over. I would like to invite each person listening in, wherever and whomever he may be, to contemplate for a moment the events of the past few hours and to give thanks in his own individual way—My way shall be by partaking of the elements of Holy Communion."
Aldrin's church which had prepared his communion kit, reportedly still holds a special "Lunar Communion" service on the Sunday closest to the moonwalk anniversary.
This year is the 40th anniversary of the "giant leap for mankind," and it got me thinking about what it meant for Neil Armstrong, and Buzz Aldrin to actually walk on the moon, and return home to Earth. …And about what we, who remained here, have taken from the experience.
Perhaps Neil summed it up well when he described looking at Earth from his spacecraft saying, "It suddenly struck me that that tiny pea, pretty and blue, was the Earth. I put up my thumb and shut one eye, and my thumb blotted out the planet Earth. I didn't feel like a giant. I felt very, very small."
Awe for the incredible beauty of God's creation, and awe for the incomprehensible immensity of God, Himself.
He gives us the curiosity to explore, the creativity and knowledge needed to accomplish, and He lets us see—in doing so—that He is still so much bigger, and absolutely omniscient.
For those who are interested, the History Channel is airing the 2-hour program, MOONSHOT, for the 40th anniversary commemoration of the first moonwalk today; Monday, July 20th at 8PM ET.
For more information, follow the link provided.