Communion in the Cosmos

Eons ago, when I was 6 years old, space exploration was very new. Apollo 8 was the first manned mission to the Moon and it entered lunar orbit on Christmas Eve, 1968. That evening, three astronauts did a live television broadcast from lunar orbit in which they showed pictures of the Earth seen from space. Imagine what it must have been like to see the earth from the moon for the first time. That blue, glowing marble so far away. The astronauts ended the broadcast with the crew taking turns reading the creation story from Genesis.

They concluded with the message: “From the crew of Apollo 8, we close with good night, good luck, a Merry Christmas, and God bless all of you—all of you on the good Earth.”

On this planet earth lived a woman named Madelyn Murray O’Hair, who was an outspoken atheist. Miss O’Hair didn’t appreciate the Apollo 8 astronauts reading from the Bible and wishing everyone a Merry Christmas. She brought a lawsuit against NASA and though the case was rejected by the Supreme Court, it caused NASA to be skittish about the issue of religion for the rest of the Apollo program.

The next year, Apollo 11 not only flew mankind to the moon, but we walked on it as well. Neill Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin were the first two men to set foot on the moon’s surface and below you can watch a clip of that landing. You’ll notice in the clip that they say “30 seconds,” meaning they only had 30 seconds of fuel left at that point in the landing. Nothing like cutting it close! It was an exciting and tense time. But what happens after they land on the moon may surprise you.

[watch the video here.]

Not many people know about this act of Holy Communion in the cosmos. Buzz Aldrin said he didn’t want to cause NASA the same problems as Apollo 8, so he kept it quiet and only commented on it years later.

This act was meaningful to Aldrin. I hope it is also meaningful for us. Today is Maundy Thursday and we remember Christ’s Last Supper with his disciples. He asks us to remember him because he remembered us. The next morning, he would be crucified…

Being Human Connection: …but we know that is not the end of the story.