LEADER TIMES WEEKEND RELIGION COLUMN FOR
January 28, 2017 by William H. Scarle, Jr. 813-835-0129
Within the past two months we lost two pioneering astronauts of the NASA space program. John Glenn passes away on December 8, 2016 and Eugene Cernan died on January 16, 2017. John Glenn was the first man to orbit the earth which he did three times aboard the Friendship 7 space craft in 1962. He was 42 years of age at the time and was not likely to be chosen to go to the moon. He resigned from NASA on January 16, 1964 to begin his political career.
Glenn was a man of deep religious conviction. Shortly after his historic orbit of the earth he preached a sermon entitled “Why I Know There Is a God.” In it he pointed out “the orderliness of the whole universe about us, from the smallest atomic structure to the most enormous thing we can imagine.” When he returned to space in 1996 at age 77 he remarked, “Looking at the earth from this vantage point, looking at this kind of creation and not to believe in God is, to me, impossible. To see [earth] laid out like that only strengthens my belief.”
Neil Armstrong was the first man to set foot on the moon. He was born on August 5, 1930 and died on August 25, 1912 at 82 years of age. Armstrong visited Israel in 1994 and exclaimed that he was more excited walking in the steps of Jesus than he was walking on the moon. He asked his host, archaeologist Meir Ben Dov, if there was a place where Jesus would have undoubtedly have walked. Ben Dov was one of the excavators of the Temple Mount and suggested that Jesus would certainly have used the southern steps to the Temple in his many visits to Jerusalem. When they arrived at the southern staircase Armstrong knelt down and kissed the ground. The man who is more famous for the statement, “This is one small stem for man, one giant leap for mankind” was overcome with the emotion of the moment.
Buzz Aldrin accompanied Armstrong on the Apollo 11 lunar landing in 1969. He was born on January 20, 1930. He carried with him in special plastic packages the bread and wine for a communion service which he held on this first landing of man on the moon. He read from chapter 15 of John’s Gospel before taking the communion signifying Jesus’ dying for our sins upon the cross with the determination that the first words spoken on the moon would be the Word of God. Buzz had wanted to share his experience with the whole world at the time, but NASA was afraid of legal controversy and persuaded Buzz to switch off his radio during the ceremony.
Back in 1968 Aldrin was on Apollo 8 which was the first manned spacecraft to orbit the moon. On Christmas Eve during the most watched television broadcast in the world at that time the crew took turns in reading from Genesis 1 the story of creation. The crew was made up of Buzz Aldrin, Bill Anders, Jim Lovell and Frank Borman.
Buzz remarked concerning the communion service on the moon in 1969 that, “It was interesting for me to think the first liquid ever poured on the moon, and the very first food eaten there, were the communion elements.”
These are men of science who understand something very simple. I used to sing with the children when I was a Pastor, “Only God can make a flower,” or a universe.
(Bill Scarle can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org) END-whs