As a nation we have been celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission, when astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first people in history to walk on the Moon. What has often been overlooked was the celebration of the Lord’s Supper on the Moon.
Aldrin told his pastor that he had “been struggling to find the right symbol for the first lunar landing.” He wanted a way to express what man was doing in the mission as transcending electronics and computers and rockets. “One of the principal symbols,” noted his pastor Dean Woodruff, “is that God reveals himself in the common elements of everyday life.” These elements have traditionally been the elements of bread and wine – common food in Bible days and typical products of man’s labor.
Not wanting to cause a controversy, his fellow astronaut Deke Slayton, who ran the Apollo 11 flight crew, told Aldrin to “go ahead and have communion, but keep your comments more general.” Aldrin asked listeners to contemplate the event and give thanks. Then he took a piece of scrap of paper on which he had written the following words and he read – “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.”
I never knew this happened on the Apollo trip. It is another case of the media choosing to ignore the message of the gospel. As I read about the sharing of communion in space I thought of Col. 1:19, “For God in all his fullness was pleased to live in Christ, and by him God reconciled everything to himself. He made peace with everything in heaven and on earth by means of his blood on the cross.”
The bread and wine shared on Apollo 11 represent the body and blood of our Lord. It is a tangible reminder of his death for us. It is by his death that one day all things in heaven and on earth will reconciled and peace will be established because of what Jesus did on the cross. How great that this was being proclaimed out in space.
I also thought of Heb 1:2-3, “but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe. The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word” The first man to step foot on the moon remembered the one who, “sustains all thing by his powerful word.”
One other scripture from the Message (Eph 1:22-2). “He is in charge of it all, has the final word on everything. At the center of all this, Christ rules the church. The church, you see, is not peripheral to the world; the world is peripheral to the church. The church is Christ’s body, in which he speaks and acts, by which he fills everything with his presence.” The body of Christ is at the center of all things. Even in space, through the bread and the wine, the church is central to what God is doing.
Praise God that the Lordship of Jesus was declared by the first human to set foot on the moon. We should not be surprised by this event. God is sovereign creator of the universe. He will make this truth known. Even though many do not acknowledge this truth, we declare Jesus’ lordship over the heavens and on earth.