It’s been almost half a century since Neil Armstrong declared on July 20, 1969, “That’s one small step for (a) man, one giant leap for mankind.” It was a momentous occasion—the first time a member of the human race had stood on the surface of the moon.
Technological expertise took the crew of Apollo 11 where no person had gone before. We can scarcely imagine the thoughts and emotions of both the astronauts and their families, but there is a lesser-known incident that took place when the crew first landed that gives some surprising insight.
Fellow astronaut Buzz Aldrin had come prepared. Before anyone stepped outside, he silently read a selection of the words of Jesus from the Gospel of John. Then he took out a miniature chalice and a small portion of bread and wine. This is what Aldrin told Guideposts magazine in 1970:
“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.”1 Due to NASA policies, this ceremony was not publicized at the time, but it has since been well documented.2
Aldrin was not the only astronaut to express his wonder and gratitude to God. Around a year earlier, Frank Borman was on the first manned mission to fly around the moon. Looking down at our planet from 250,000 miles away, he radioed back a message quoting the opening words of Genesis: “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.”
He later explained, “I had an enormous feeling that there had to be a power greater than any of us—that there was a God, that there was indeed a beginning.”
As these men took dramatic first steps in a journey of discovery, God was there. As we take our own first steps into this new year, may we too find God’s presence and acknowledge Him in our lives.