It was 45 years ago today that man first landed on the moon. However, there was a little known, yet major, event that took place upon the moon landing for Buzz Aldrin. Aldrin commemorated his landing by taking the first, and only, religious communion on the moon.
According to Time Magazine, the date, July 20, 1969, is forever known as the date that the United States of America put the first man on the moon. What most people do not know is the date also marks when Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin celebrated the first and only Lord’s Supper on the moon, a fact the U.S. government refused to make public at the time. Inside the lunar module, prior to stepping onto the moon for the first time, Aldrin radioed Houston Space Center Mission Control. He asked for a few moments of silence “to invite each person listening in, wherever and whomever they may be, to pause for a moment and contemplate the events of the past few hours, and to give thanks in his or her own way.”
What people did not know at that time was that Buzz Aldrin was taking the first lunar communion during that moment of silence. Aldrin read a passage from the bible and then proceeded to drink wine from a tiny chalice he brought on in his personal belongings along with some bites of bread. The passage Aldrin chose to read came from the book of John.
“I am the vine, you are the branches. Whoever remains in me, and I in him, will bear much fruit; for you can do nothing without me.”
Aldrin noted how special it was to him to think that the very first food or drink consumed on the moon where communion elements noting:
“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.”
The Huffington Post reports that Aldrin originally wanted the communion to be a part of the public broadcast. However, NASA would not allow the public religious display due to fear of lawsuits. NASA had recently been sued by an athiest for allowing the reading of a passage from Genesis by the crew of Apollo 8. Buzz did note that should he have a do-over he may have chosen a commemorative event that could have been enjoyed by all.
“Although it was a deeply meaningful experience for me, it was a Christian sacrament, and we had come to the moon in the name of all mankind—be they Christians, Jews, Muslims, animists, agnostics, or atheists. But at the time I could think of no better way to acknowledge the enormity of the Apollo 11 experience than by giving thanks to God.”
What do you think of Buzz Aldrin’s choice to commemorate the landing on the moon with a relgious moon communion service? Should he have chosen a more universal commemorative event, or is communion perfect since it was so deeply meaningful to Aldrin himself?