Wednesday, July 24, 2019

A Heavenly Eucharist!

Dear Friends, 

For those of you close to my age, you remember where you were and what you were doing when President Kennedy was shot. You remember the moment you heard that Elvis had died. You remember when Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin and Neil Armstrong walked on the moon. That was July 20, 1969 and the 50th anniversary of that enormously important event in America’s history was celebrated last Saturday. Armstrong was the first to step out of the lunar module and said: “One small step for a man, one giant step for mankind.” Then, Aldrin stepped onto the moon’s surface and both men spent the next 2½ hours walking and exploring with our Nation transfixed in awe as we watched the camera feed and listened to the live broadcast.

When Armstrong died in 2012 I started to reminisce about that historic moon landing and as I scanned the various published articles about the voyage of Apollo 11, I read something that I had not heard before. As soon as the lunar module had landed, and before Armstrong’s historic first footstep and statement, something happened of even greater importance that was not broadcast. What we heard was Aldrin saying: “This is the lunar module pilot. I’d like to take this opportunity to ask every person listening in, whoever and wherever they may be, to pause for a moment and contemplate the events of the past few hours and to give thanks in his or her own way."

In the radio silence that followed, listen to Aldrin describe what happened next: “In the radio blackout, I opened the little plastic packages which contained the bread and the wine. I poured the wine into the chalice our church had given me. In the one-sixth gravity of the moon, the wine slowly curled and gracefully came up the side of the cup. Then I read the scripture, ‘I am the vine, you are the branches. Whosoever abides in Me will bring forth much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.’ I ate the tiny Host and swallowed the wine. I gave thanks for the intelligence and spirit that had brought two young pilots to the Sea of Tranquility. It was interesting for me to think: the very first liquid ever poured on the moon, and the very first food eaten there, were the communion elements.”

Aldrin had wanted to broadcast the Communion but NASA had refused for fear of lawsuits by atheists. Aldrin was an ordained elder at Webster Presbyterian Church in Webster, Texas and the bread was a piece from a loaf consecrated by his pastor at a communion service the week before the Moon landing. Aldrin said that he and his pastor wanted to “express our feeling that what man was doing in this mission transcended electronics and computers and rockets.” He said that “There are many of us in the NASA program who believe that what we are doing is part of God’s eternal plan for man.” 

Buzz Aldrin – this man of God – took the Presence of Jesus Christ to the moon. Among the first words spoken after the lunar landing was scripture – the words of Jesus Christ as recorded in John 15:5. The first meal served on the moon was the Lord’s Supper. The world’s most epic event in space featured the Eucharist! 

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