On July 20, 1969, a unique story in the history of the universe happened. Outside the lunar module, in which two American astronauts Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong landed, special marks were made by leaving their footprints on the moon. Yet Aldrin, the Apollo 11 pilot, made an even more unique note in historical annals by taking communion there. It’s been written about in Guidepost magazine and in a book, Everything You Always Wanted to Know About God (But Were Afraid to Ask), by Eric Metaxas.
Aldrin wanted to mark the first moonwalk by more than leaving footprints. As a Christian he sought counsel of his pastor, who suggested communion on the moon. His minister consecrated a communion wafer and a small vial of communion wine. Aldrin took them with him as he left the Earth’s surface and flew into space in Apollo 11, to leave heartprints of gratitude to God, while on the moon.
At 250,000 miles from earth, shortly after he and Armstrong stepped onto the moon, he could have said:
“I’m too busy, I have lots of work to do here. NASA’s counting on me.”
Instead he knew that Someone else counted on him more: Jesus Christ, Creator of all the heavenly bodies, including the silent place called moon. I like to think that Jesus waited almost breathlessly for Aldrin’s behavior.
Aldrin told how it happened: “In the radio blackout, I opened the little plastic packages which contained the bread and the wine. I poured the wine into the chalice our church had given me. In the one-sixth gravity of the moon, the wine slowly curled and gracefully came up the side of the cup.” He read from John 15:5. Then, Aldrin partook of the emblems of communion not by any great seas of earth, but by The Sea of Tranquility on the moon’s surface.
I like how Eugene Peterson paraphrases John15:5 in The Message because it explains so well the connection between the vine and the grapes, “Live in me. Make your home in me just as I do in you. In the same way that a branch can’t bear grapes by itself but only by being joined to the vine, you can’t bear fruit unless you are joined with me.”
Thus, the first foods ingested on the moon were the simple components of communion. Since I learned of this act by Aldrin, it’s left me wondering—if I absent myself willingly, for no definitive reason, from the communion service, am I not dishonoring Jesus’ act of creation, including the heavenly bodies? I think so. I believe He is Creator, and I know that He promised that one day those who believe in Him will share that meal with Him again in heaven. If I don’t enjoy it with Him now, will I then?