Tuesday, July 21, 2009
Communion, Out of this World
Yesterday was the fortieth anniversary of the first moon walk and the famous words "one small step for man, one giant step for mankind."I watched this event with my family and partway through the historic live broadcast we adjusted the image, realizing that we had assumed that it was so fuzzy because it was coming from 250,00 miles away. I was interested to read in the Washington Post that the pilot of the lunar module, Buzz Aldrin, was given the elements for communion by his Presbyterian pastor, and he celebrated the sacrament in space to commemorate the historic landing on the moon. He was forbidden by NASA to mention his religious observance at the time, but he wrote about it a year later.
"In the radio blackout," Aldrin wrote in Guideposts magazine in 1970, "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.'
"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."
One small sip for man, one giant leap of faith for mankind.
The small chalice Aldrin used for the wine went back to Webster Church. Each year on the Sunday closest to July 20, the congregation celebrates Lunar Communion. "Communion can be celebrated anywhere," senior pastor Mark Cooper said Sunday. "Even cramped up in a lunar module on the moon."
Out of this world.