by guest blogger Barney Cargile
Slowly removing the container from his personal preference kit, Buzz Aldrin examined the elements in his hand. Sitting next to him, Apollo 11 commander Neil Armstrong had earlier uttered the historic words, “The Eagle has landed,” as the space module caressed the lunar surface on July 20, 1969. Those were the first words spoken from the moon, and now Aldrin was preparing to consume the first “food” on a celestial body outside earth.
After a complicated legal procedure, NASA granted Aldrin permission to observe communion after landing on the moon, provided he celebrate it privately. Without revealing his full actions, he spoke to us on earth, “I would like to…ask every person listening in, whoever and wherever they may be, to pause for a moment and contemplate the events of the past few hours and give thanks.” He then silently read John 15:5, and partook of the bread and wine, symbolizing Christ’s sacrifice. Six hours later, Neil Armstrong stepped outside the module, declaring his famous phrase, “One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”
Last Saturday marked the fiftieth anniversary of this event. Let’s not miss the significance of Armstrong’s words, especially when connected with Aldrin’s observance of Christ’s death. Aside from the fact that the first food consumed on the moon was communion bread and wine, Armstrong’s statement provides a striking parallel with the sacrifice of Jesus. We could also describe his crucifixion as “one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”
Hundreds of thousands of people were crucified throughout history. In that regard, the death of Jesus is insignificant, much like Armstrong’s first step on the moon. But what a huge leap for mankind! Suddenly we were transported from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of light (Colossians 1:13). Instantly we received forgiveness and peace with God (Romans 5:1). Our eternal destiny was changed in a moment at the cross. “One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”
As Aldrin poured the wine into the small chalice and placed the bread on his tongue, he was doing much more than consuming the first food eaten on the lunar surface. He was declaring to the human race the monumental significance of Christ’s death. Buzz Aldrin’s observance of communion demonstrates that the sacrifice of Jesus truly is “out of this world.”
- How can the death of Jesus take on more meaning for me, not only in observing communion, but each day?
Lord, as we remember your sacrifice for us, help us appreciate its monumental significance.