It was only a few months ago that I learned something completely new about this momentous day in 1969 when the eagle landed and Neil Armstrong finally walked on the moon. It turns out that the first food and drink consumed on the moon were bread and wine, presented to Buzz Aldrin by his Church in a little silver Holy Communion kit.
The sacramental moment itself was a personal and silent one for Aldrin.
Anxious to avoid controversy, NASA were already embroiled in a legal battle over members of Apollo 8 who had read verses from Genesis while orbiting the moon the previous Christmas. Opponents insisted a publicly funded US space mission was neither the time nor the place for religious self-expression. Although they misjudged the national mood and their case came to nothing, it does seem Aldrin himself had second thoughts about what he’d done.
They had travelled to the moon on behalf of all mankind, Aldrin reflected later: Christians, Jews, Muslims, animists, agnostics, atheists. And yet at the time, it was the best way he could think of both to give thanks and to try and point to a deeper meaning behind the technological breakthrough.
As a Christian priest myself, it’s a poignant and absorbing thought, that some small portion of those 21 precious lunar hours should be spent receiving the Lord’s Supper with the earth it was all in aid of revolving steadily below.
Lord Jesus Christ: in flesh and blood you came to the world and in bread and wine you come to it still. We remember today your life given up for us all and we pray for the family of all human kind whom you long to receive at your heavenly table. Amen