‘I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. (John 15:5 NIV)
Apollo 11 landed on the surface of the moon on Sunday, July 20, 1969 (50 years ago). Most of us are familiar with astronaut Neil Armstrong’s historic statement as he stepped onto the moon’s surface: “That’s one small step for man; one giant leap for mankind.” But few know about the first meal eaten there. The Apollo 11 team consisted of Neil Armstrong, Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin and Michael Collins.
Buzz Aldrin had brought aboard the spacecraft a tiny Communion kit provided by his church (Webster Presbyterian Church, a congregation just outside of Houston, Texas). Aldrin sent a radio broadcast to Earth asking listeners to contemplate the events of that day and give thanks.
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 invite each person listening, 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.
Then, in radio blackout for privacy, Aldrin read, “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in me, and I in him, bears much fruit.” (John 15:5)
“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. I sensed especially strongly my unity with our church back home, and with the church everywhere.”
Silently, he gave thanks and partook of the bread and the cup.
Right now, let’s practise what Aldrin tells us to do:
- Let’s take a few moments of silence. Contemplate for a moment the events of the past few hours as insignificant as they may seem to us. Let’s give thanks to God in our own individual ways.
- Read this verse: ‘I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. (John 15:5 NIV)