I was 5 and a half years old and my Mum had sat my brother and I down in front of our big old black and white TV in the living room. There were a lot of grainy pictures and people speaking in a weird accent. Two spacemen were jumping about in the dust, one was called Neil and the other was called Buzz. (What a great name for a Spaceman!). I was watching a piece of history, albeit the next day's TV repeat version, and only so much of it hit home. Of course, I'm talking about the events of 20th July 1969, the Apollo 11 Moon landing.
I was thinking about man's first walk on the Moon recently after I read an article about Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin. The Lunar Module had successfully landed on the Moon and both men were resting up before that famous first walk on its surface. It was then that something quite remarkable happened. Buzz Aldrin took out the piece of communion bread and a small vial of wine that he had brought from his home church. And there, nearly 250,000 miles from home on the surface of the moon, he gave thanks to God and read this Bible verse…
"I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing." (John 15:5)
Buzz Aldrin later said that he wanted to thank God for bringing two young pilots safely to the "Sea of Tranquillity". During the short time of communion and remembrance Buzz remarked that Neil watched respectively but remained quiet.
I had never heard this story before but was impacted by how fitting it was that some of the first words ever spoken on the Moon were those of Jesus. After all, Jesus is the Maker of Heaven and Earth, and the Moon too…
All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. (John 1:3)
Who made heaven and earth, the sea and all that is in them… (Psalm 146:6)
Or who, in the words of Dante, is Himself the "Love that moves the Sun and other stars." I really love that description!
Another reminder of the Moon landing over 40 years ago came in August 2012 with the sad news of the death of Neil Armstrong. The first man to set foot on the moon, Neil had uttered those now famous words… "That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind". This is how NBC reported it on 25th Aug '12… "Armstrong's death at the age of 82 marked the passing of a 'reluctant American hero', as well as the dimming of the Space Age's brightest moment."
The life of Neil Armstrong could have been one of a global superstar. He could have "milked" the fame which that epic trip understandably brought him. Instead, he mostly kept himself to himself and didn't try to cash in on this fame.
I wondered about that throwaway line from Buzz Aldrin in the Lunar Module all those years ago. He said that during the short service of communion that Neil "remained silent". Although he may not have believed in what Buzz was doing, he watched respectively and with a dignified silence.
I just wondered did he 'remain silent' to the very end of his 82 years? Did he ever personally commune with the Creator of the universe? Did he know the ultimate peace of sins forgiven and a home in heaven - a perfect "Sea of Tranquillity"?
The Neil Armstrong I have read about was a courageous, humble, hardworking pilot who could remain cool even under severe pressure. He was never self-seeking and only wanted to give his best to the job he was asked to do. I love what he said while on the moon, when others could have become aware of their own self-importance… "It suddenly struck me that that tiny pea, pretty and blue, was the Earth. I put up my thumb and shut one eye, and my thumb blotted out the planet Earth. I didn't feel like a giant. I felt very, very small."
I really hope that he took that final small step, not on his own this time but with the help of the God of this universe.
"As long as there are history books, Neil Armstrong will be included in them."
(NASA Administrator Charles Bolden)
"Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life." (John 5:24)
(All Bible quotations are from the NASB)
Are you SURE that you have your place booked in Heaven? Read this if you're not!