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.

4 comments:

Ian said...

I had never heard this account before. Fascinating!

It has also elevated my shame at my shoddy Sunday attendance record. If Buzz could take communion on the MOON, do I really have an excuse for not making it down the street once a week for 10?

My shame burns white hot. Curse you, Buzz-man.

Deborah Laforet said...

I think I need to share this with Jeff. He still calls it the "alleged" walk on the moon. He is such a cynic! Maybe this act would help convince him that it really happened.

It is amazing in my eyes that an astronaut would bring the elements of communion with him. I wonder, forty years later in this age, whether there are still astronauts who would carry their faith with them in such a physical way like Buzz Aldren.

Deborah Laforet said...

This is Jeff. The story was very inspiring. While I DO have difficulty fully believing in the moon walk, I believe that the idea of a moon walk was and is very inspirational for millions of people. Stories like this make it more so. I am not a cynic, but a doubter. I am willing to believe both sides of the argument. This is a compelling story though. Thanks for sharing.

lionlamb said...

Ian, you know there is a spot for your lovely tribe every Sunday -- at 10:30. That gives you a half hour more pillow time than you thought!

Thanks for bringing Jeff on board Deb. Dude, the moon walk happened! I too find the Aldrin story inspiring.