Hundreds of millions of people in nearly every part of the globe were watching the dim, blurry, and shadowy figures of astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin as they were being televised while walking on the moon fifty years ago, this very day, July 20.
Aldrin’s Call for Contemplation
After landing the Apollo Lunar Module Eagle on the moon that day, the two astronauts remained in the module for several hours before stepping out on the moon. During this time Aldrin called command station in Houston and said,
“Houston, this is Eagle. This is the LM Pilot speaking. I would, like to request a few moments of silence. I would like to invite each person listening in, wherever and whomever he may be, to contemplate for a moment the events of the past few hours and to give thanks in his own individual way.”
Aldrin’s Act of Communion
During the time of contemplation, Aldrin later revealed that
“For me this meant taking communion. In the radio blackout I opened the little plastic packages which contained bread and wine.
I poured the wine into the chalice our church had given me. In the one-sixth gravity of the moon the wine curled slowly and gracefully up the side of the cup. It was interesting to think that the very first liquid ever poured on the moon, and the first food eaten there, were communion elements.
And so, just before I partook of the elements, I read the words which I had chosen to indicate our trust that as man probes into space we are in fact acting in Christ.
I sensed especially strongly my unity with our church back home, and with the Church everywhere.
I 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.’ John 15:5 (TEV).”
Armstrong’s First Step
Armstrong finally opened the hatch of the lunar module and made his way down the lunar module’s ladder. The camera attached to the craft recorded his every move and beamed the signal back to Earth to the delight of the hundreds of millions of people watching. As he stepped on the lunar surface he proclaimed “that’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind” and took a cautious step forward. Humanity had walked on the moon.
A Reflective First Step for Humanity
The scriptures are filled with encouragement to take small spiritual steps that can lead to giant spiritual steps for oneself and others. Such scriptures include:
- “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. (Hebrews 10.24);”
- “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it (Hebrews 13.2);”
- “Open your mouth for those with no voice, for the justice of all the dispossessed (Proverbs 31.8).”
The scriptures also note that “In their hearts humans plan their course, but the LORD establishes their steps (Proverbs 16.9) and that “The LORD makes firm the steps of the one who delights in him (Psalm 37.23).”
So, one question for reflection on this commemorative day is
- How many of your small spiritual steps have led to giant spiritual steps for yourself and others?
Another question for reflection is
- How many future small spiritual steps are you willing to take that can lead to giant spiritual steps for yourself and others?
The Psalmist prayed, as may you, “May your hand be ready to help me, for I have chosen your precepts (Psalm 119.173). The Psalmist also invoked “though (we) may stumble, (we) will not fall, for the Lord upholds (us) with his hand (Psalm 37.24).
Click here to watch the moon landing.