[ACNS, by Rachel Farmer] As people and churches around the world celebrated 50 years since the Apollo 11 moon landing in 1969, facts about the first ever “extra-terrestrial communion” have come to light. The Church of England’s Director of Churches and Cathedrals, Becky Clark, said that US astronaut, Buzz Aldrin, who was one of Apollo 11 crew and among the first to set foot on the moon’s surface, had taken something special with him on the journey.
As an elder at Webster Presbyterian Church, he had got special permission to take bread and wine with him before he headed into space in 1969. Becky said Aldrin had given himself holy communion while in space. She said, “Aldrin took the bread and wine inside the Eagle lunar module, after it had landed on the moon’s Sea of Tranquillity, during an hour-long downtime designed to let the astronauts recover from their space flight and prepare for their moon walk.”
Aldrin said, “I wondered if it might be possible to take communion on the moon, symbolizing the thought that God was revealing himself there too, as man reached out into the universe.” He later said it was interesting to think that the very first liquid ever poured on the moon, and the first food eaten there, were communion elements.
Across the UK many Church of England cathedrals and churches have joined in the lunar anniversary with artworks, exhibitions and special services, helping connect the event with Christian themes.
At Lichfield Cathedral, One Small Step, a 36-metre artwork replica of the lunar surface opened on the anniversary of the landing. It is giving visitors the chance to “walk on the moon” until the end of September.
The opening day included a special communion service “on the moon”. The cathedral states that the installation is designed to help visitors, “contemplate and observe one of the most significant journeys that humanity has taken and allows us to imagine possibilities for humankind.”
Another anniversary attraction is a huge model of the moon by artist Luke Jerram, called the Museum of the Moon which has attracted tens of thousands of additional visitors during its UK tour of churches and cathedrals.
The Church of England also released the prayer below on the anniversary of the first landing on the moon.
who made the universe and all that is in it,
we thank you for the skills and talents
that enable us to explore the mysteries of creation.
Give us the will to cherish all that you have made,
and to use the riches of our own world
for the good of all,
through Jesus Christ our Lord.