A new life was born into our family this week, and as I looked upon her for the first time, I was filled with awe and wonder. Sometimes I think we have lost our sense of awe and wonder...that feeling when we encounter something powerful that we can't easily explain...that sense that there must be a Being more powerful than man for such a thing to occur. That is the sense I have when I look at this newborn with all her fingers and toes who is seemingly perfect.
It reminds me of the story of Buzz Aldrin who experienced that very sense of awe and wonder when he landed on the moon. There is a part of that moon landing story that is seldom told, and it includes a fact that few people know. The first food eaten and the first liquid swallowed on the moon by human beings were the communion bread and wine.
It's true! On July 16, 1969, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin of Apollo 11 landed the Eagle on the moon. It was to be a long wait while they rested from their flight before they actually walked on the moon. Out their window they were staggered not only by the breathtaking moon craters but by the overwhelming sight of a beautiful blue marble suspended in space called Earth. Buzz Aldrin had given this moment a lot of thought. If he truly made it to the moon safely, he felt the only way to express his awe, his wonder, his gratitude, and his hope was to celebrate it with the Lord's supper in honor of the One who created the heavens and the earth.
Edwin Eugene “Buzz” Aldrin Jr. was an elder at Webster Presbyterian Church, a congregation just outside of Houston, Texas. He first came up with the idea for the communion ceremony while at Cape Kennedy as he worked with the sophisticated experiments of gravity, and he wondered if it might be possible to take communion on the moon. Before he headed into space in 1969, he got special permission to take bread and wine with him to space and give himself communion. Men had already prayed in space, but Aldrin was about to go one step further—literally and figuratively.
Aldrin had originally planned to share the event with the world over the radio. But the atheist activist Madalyn Murray O’Hair had recently sued NASA after Apollo 8 astronauts read the book of Genesis during a broadcast made on Christmas Day 1968 while orbiting the moon. O’Hair’s case claiming that the astronauts had violated the constitutional separation between church and state was dismissed. Yet NASA was still wary of causing more controversy. Aldrin was told he could go ahead and have communion, but he was to keep his comments more general.
After unpacking the elements from their flight packets and laying them on a small table in front of the abort guidance system computer, Aldrin radioed back to NASA with this message: "Houston, this is Eagle. This is the LM Pilot speaking. I would like to request a few moments of silence. 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 invite each person listening, 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." Before taking communion, Aldrin read from John 15:5, which he had handwritten on a scrap of paper—”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.” After radioing in his message and reading the Scripture verse, Aldrin partook of the Supper. He reached for the wine and bread he’d brought to space—the first foods ever poured or eaten on the moon. “I poured the wine into the chalice our church had given me. In the one-sixth gravity of the moon the wine curled slowly and gracefully up the side of the cup,” he later wrote.
And that’s the story… the story NASA and our mainstream media never really tell anyone. And now you know. This communion sequence was dramatized in a 12-part HBO series "From the Earth To The Moon." You can watch it on a YouTube clip!
What will it take for you to regain your sense of awe and wonder? One of my favorite authors, A.W. Tozer wrote: "Without doubt, the mightiest thought the mind can entertain is the thought of God, and the weightiest word in any language is its word for God...what comes to mind when we think about God is the most important thing about us."
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Anne Hope is the award winning author of Bent Pages...a sharp, funny, and deeply inspirational narrative. Kindle version of the award winning, "Bent Pages" is now on sale at Amazon! Click on the link below to take you there.