This past week our nation stopped to celebrate one of the greatest human achievements ever imaginable—the Apollo 11 lunar landing. The crew of three astronauts gained a worldwide audience as they not only landed on the moon but as they literally walked upon its rocky surface. Indeed, the nation itself stood at attention to witness the history-making scene. Even church events took a back seat to the remarkable event. Gayle Magee Red, the daughter of a former Temple pastor, posted a Facebook picture of a bulletin from the time and underscored the following announcement: “WATERMELON CUTTING RESCHEDULED: The Watermelon Cutting which was canceled because of the ‘Moon Walk,’ will be held Sunday evening, August 3, immediately following the evening worship in the Fellowship Hall.” Yep, I would say the “Moon Walk” was more important than a watermelon cutting—but barely! The first steps of those astronauts were moments of great national pride and American ingenuity. We had beaten the Soviets to the moon as President John F. Kennedy had envisioned, and the world itself had witnessed our prowess.
Of course, I’m intimately aware that we truly accomplish nothing on our own. If it were not for God’s provision of resources, wisdom, and protection, we not be able to pull off the feats that we do. I know, I know. You are saying, “That sounds just like a preacher!” Well, I believe it can also echo the heart of an astronaut. Take Buzz Aldrin for example. Before he became the second man to place his foot upon the moon, he paused for a moment and took the Lord’s Supper as a reflective reminder of Christ’s work of salvation. Aldrin, a Presbyterian elder, had received special permission from the church to take the bread and wine with him, so that he could commune with the Lord through the ordinance. NASA went to a “blackout” in order not to draw the ire of individuals like Madalyn Murray O’Hair and her atheistic counterparts, but the astronaut’s action certainly pointed to his belief that His Lord was the Creator and Sustainer of all. This landing wasn’t simply a human achievement; this was a God-empowered success. Aldrin’s journey into space itself had only confirmed his trust in Christ Himself.
But Aldrin was not the first or last such adventurer to see His faith soar. Whereas it is reported that the first cosmonauts to orbit the earth returned to report that they viewed the universe and that they had not seen God anywhere, the first American astronauts into space returned with a much different conclusion. They contended that when they viewed the incredible sights, they saw God everywhere. You see, even the earliest astronauts recognized their efforts were fueled by the Lord’s energy sources. (Of course, I believe if those cosmonauts had stepped out of their ship, they would have seen God more clearly as well!)
I still marvel at the Apollo 11, and like many of you, I stopped to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the event. But may I remind you of something greater that happened about two thousand years ago? The God of Heaven, in physical form, landed on our planet. He left His first physical footprint here. He taught us, ministered to us, challenged us, suffered for us, died for us, and was resurrected for us. His name? You guessed it: Jesus!
As Neil Armstrong took his first walk on the moon, he declared, “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” No doubt, it was an amazing feat that opened up future technological advances, communication successes, and social progress. Yet, it is nothing compared to the “giant leap forward” we took when Jesus Christ came for us to know and experience eternal life. Don’t forget that! And let’s plan on worshipping Him this Sunday! See you then!