What a Time It Was!
It was a time when we needed something positive for our nation’s morale. The news media just kept reporting stories of the war, riots, racial tensions, student unrest on college campuses, political corruption, concerns about threats to the security and freedoms of the US because of groups espousing socialism and great animosity toward the USA. We desperately needed something that would enable us to transcend the day to day doldrums and sense of despair to give us renewed hope of a brighter tomorrow.
That boost would come from a group of very brave men that were called astronauts. The original Mercury “7” who were the first to explore space had moved us from single occupancy in a space craft to the Apollo program with three brave space explorers were strapped on top of a Saturn 5 rocket to head toward the moon. We were living to see science fiction become science fact.
Finally, in 1969, the first astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin were going to make “one small step for man” from the Lunar Lander to the surface of the moon. Not only was most of America glued to our television screens, but folks globally were watching also. We gazed as Neil Armstrong stepped down the ladder and touched down on the lunar surface. No words could express what we felt!
It would be years later that we would learn about the “behind the scenes” worship service that Buzz Aldrin was having in the lunar lander before stepping down to join Armstrong in a moon walk. Aldrin was an Elder at the Webster Presbyterian Church in Webster, TX. Some weeks before his trip to the moon, he had visited with his pastor, Dean Woodruff, to discuss a fitting way to commemorate the wonder and awe of what this lunar trip really meant to all mankind.
It was decided by Aldrin and his pastor that taking bread and wine to have the first meal eaten on the moon to be Communion would be an act of faith and a way to show thanks to God for making man’s trip a reality. So, the pastor provided a small piece of bread, a sip of wine, and a very tiny silver chalice which Aldrin took on the trip in his personal items.
Just before Neil Armstrong stepped out of the lander to the moon’s surface, Buzz Aldrin took out those Communion elements and placed them on a small table in front of the abort guidance system computer. So that he could observe this moment with the LORD in worship, he radioed back to Houston…
“Houston, this is Eagle. This is the LM (Lunar Module) pilot speaking. I would like to request a few moments of silence. I would like to invite each person listening in, wherever and whomever you may be, to contemplate for a moment the events of the past few hours and to give thanks in his own individual way.”
In the few moments of that communications blackout, Aldrin opened the elements, poured the wine in the small chalice in one-sixth gravity and watched it flow so differently than on earth. He had his moment with the LORD and considered that fact that the first liquid drunk and the first bread eaten on the moon was with a child of God celebrating the Lord’s Supper with his Lord.
He had taken a card with him that had these verses that he would read in his worship experience, “I am the vine and you are the branches. Whoever remains in men and I in him will bear much fruit; for you can do nothing without me.” When I consider the heavens, the works of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which Thou hast ordained, “What is man, that Thou art mindful of him? And the Son of Man that thou visitest Him?” Thus, the first moments on the moon were spent with the Creator in fellowship with one of His own servants and one of our nation’s heroes!