June 29, 2022

Moon landing: Buzz Aldrin took Holy Communion, read this Bible verse on the lunar surface

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Fifty years ago, when American astronaut Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin, a devout Christian, made history by landing on the moon, the first thing he did was thank God.

Aldrin, seated next to Neil Armstrong, became the first person to perform a religious sacrament on a celestial body outside of Earth. The ordained former Presbyterian wrote in an article for Guideposts in 1970 that he chose Holy Communion because his pastor at Webster Presbyterian, Dean Woodruff, often spoke about how God reveals himself through the elements of everyday life. .

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“I wondered if it would be possible to take communion on the moon,” Aldrin recalled a year after the mission, “symbolizing the thought that God was revealing himself there too, as man reached out to the universe .For there are many of us in the NASA program who trust that what we are doing is part of God’s eternal plan for man.”

This July 20, 1969 photo made available by NASA shows pilot Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin in the Apollo 11 lunar module. For the 50th anniversary of the landing, Omega has released a limited-edition Speedmaster watch, a tribute to the one that Aldrin wore to the moon.
(Neil Armstrong/NASA via AP)

And on July 20, 1969, after the Eagle lunar lander touched down on the surface of the moon, Aldrin took out the wafer which was in a plastic packet and the wine, along with a small silver cup provided by his church, which he kept in his “personal preference kit” before speaking on the radio, according to the Religion News Service.

“Houston, it’s Eagle. It’s the LM pilot,” Aldrin said, referring to the lunar module, shortly after the Eagle lunar lander touched down on the lunar surface on July 20, 1969.

Audio of Buzz Aldrin giving thanks shortly before taking communion on the moon. (Courtesy of Apollo 11 Lunar Surface Journal)

“I would like to take this opportunity to ask everyone who is listening, whoever they are and wherever they are,” Aldrin said, “to pause for a moment and contemplate the events of the past few hours and give grace in its own way.”

Aldrin silently read John 15:5, which he wrote on a 3-by-5 ​​inch note card: “As Jesus said: I am the vine, you are the branches. Whoever abides in me, and I in him, will bear much fruit; because you can’t do anything without me.

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Aldrin then performed the ritual alone, which he dramatized in an episode of HBO’s “From the Earth to the Moon” and played by Bryan Cranston. Armstrong watched but did not participate.

Buzz Aldrin's handwritten notes and scriptures flew across the surface of the moon, from a lightweight 3x5 inch buff card.  Aldrin read John 15:5 while taking communion after landing on the moon and read Psalm 8:3,4 while returning to earth.

Buzz Aldrin’s handwritten notes and scriptures flew across the surface of the moon, from a lightweight 3×5 inch buff card. Aldrin read John 15:5 while taking communion after landing on the moon and read Psalm 8:3,4 while returning to earth.
(Courtesy of Heritage Auctions)

“During the radio blackout, I opened the little plastic wrappers that had bread and wine in them,” Aldrin said. “I poured the wine into the chalice our church had given me. In the one-sixth moon gravity, the wine rolled slowly and gracefully down 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 elements of communion.”

He later wrote that NASA asked him not to read the Bible verse “because of the O’Hair trial”, after Apollo 8 read 10 passages from Genesis about the creation of the world and an atheist has been prosecuted. Although the lawsuit was ultimately dropped, the space program was nervous about including other statements of faith. But Aldrin managed to squeeze in another verse before getting back down to earth.

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At the end of the mission, as Aldrin returned to earth, he read aloud a second verse, from the Old Testament, which he scribbled on the same index card, Psalm 8:3-4: “When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars which you have ordained; what is man that you remember him? and the Son of Man to visit him?

It’s something that to this day makes the 89-year-old living legend wonder, whose historic communion in 1969 is still commemorated annually at the Webster Presbyterian.

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“It was a privilege to have been able to undertake the first manned mission to the lunar surface, an honor to have worked with so many good and dedicated people, and to have left our footprints there,” Aldrin told Florida. Today earlier this week. “Even now, sometimes I marvel that we went to the moon.”