Buzz Aldrin Took Holy Communion on the Moon
By Shari Dovale
This week marks the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing. On July 20, 1969, the world watched as astronaut Neil Armstrong planted his foot on the moon’s powdery surface, and spoke his famous quote, “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”
From July 16th, when Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins took off from Kennedy Space Center, until July 24th, when they splashed down in the Pacific Ocean, millions were enthralled with the historic flight.
But they did not know all the details about that momentous occasion. NASA kept a few details quiet, including how Buzz Aldrin took communion while on the surface of the moon.
Aldrin tells the story here: Apollo 11: When Buzz Aldrin Took Communion on the Moon
Now Neil and I were sitting inside Eagle, while Mike circled in lunar orbit, unseen in the black sky above us. In a little while after our scheduled meal period, Neil would give the signal to step down the ladder onto the powdery surface of the moon. Now was the moment for communion.
So I unstowed the elements in their flight packets. I put them and the scripture reading on the little table in front of the abort guidance-system computer.
Then I called back to Houston.
“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.”
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)
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