United Reformed Church LogoFIRST MEAL ON THE MOON

Almost everyone knows Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin were the first people to stand on the moon. Almost everyone knows what Armstrong said: ‘That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind,’ but how many know what Buzz Aldrin did before he stepped out onto the moon’s surface?

Aldrin was a devout Christian and an Elder at Webster Presbyterian Church, Houston, Texas. Before the flight he wondered about how to mark the landing. In 1970, the year after the landing, he wrote in an article for Guideposts magazine that his pastor, Dean Woodruff, had told him that ‘God reveals himself in the common elements of everyday life - like bread and wine.’ Woodruff gave him a silver chalice to take with him on the flight, and there was just enough gravity for him to be able to pour the wine from a plastic container.

He wrote: ‘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.’

He also read from John 15.5: ‘I am the vine and you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will bear much fruit; for you can do nothing without me.’

Before he took communion, he radioed back to NASA: ‘I would like to request a few moments of silence. I would like to invite each person listening in, wherever and whoever they may be, to contemplate for a moment the events of the last few hours and to give thanks in his own individual way.’

NASA kept quiet about what he was actually doing though. It had been bruised by the activities of atheist campaigner Madalyn Murray O’Hair, who had fought a series of court battles - all of which she lost - against it because the crew of a previous mission, Apollo 8, had read out the creation story from Genesis during their orbit.

The Bible and the moon have a lot more history besides all that, though. Three hundred microfilmed King James Versions were carried on the Apollo 14 mission at the instigation of the Apollo Prayer League, 100 of which went down to the moon in the lunar module with astronaut Edgar Mitchell.

There is also a paper Bible still on the moon; it’s on the dashboard of an abandoned lunar rover and was left there by Apollo 15 astronaut David Scott.