It has been ten months of “firsts”for all of us. There are so many it’s hard to count them all!In terms of Sunday worship--especially during the Red Phase -- our ‘firsts’ have involved live-streaming and drive-in Services. With these, the meaning of the opening Sentences in Morning Prayer has been expanded. For example, to say, “The Lord is in His holy temple: let all the earth keep silence before Him” (Habakkuk 2.20) suddenly takes in living rooms and kitchens, bedrooms and vehicles. The Lord’s temple includes not just the beautiful Sanctuary of St. George’s. It is not limited to the physical building, but extends into the hearts of His children.
St. Paul put it this way: “Your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God... You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” (1 Corinthians 6.19-20) Paul did not mean that we should forego gathering with other Christians for Sunday worship. That is the ideal and pattern given us by Jesus. However, there will always be extenuating circumstances, and the Red Phase is one of them.
Recently, I heard the story of the first time the Holy Communion was administered on the moon. Not only was it a ‘first’ –it was another reminder that the Lord’s temple encompasses all of creation. This story was told first to Guidepost Magazine. Here it is, as passed on to me:
“In July, 1969, Astronaut Buzz Aldrin was an elder at his Presbyterian Church in Texas; and, knowing that he would soon be doing something unprecedented in human history, he felt that he should mark the occasion somehow. He asked his minister to help him,and so the minister consecrated a Communion wafer and a small vial of communion wine. Buzz Aldrin took them with him out of the Earth's orbit and onto the surface of the moon. He and Armstrong had only been on the lunar surface for a few minutes when Aldrin made the following public statement:
“’This is the LM (Lunar Module) pilot. I'd like to take this opportunity to ask every person listening in, whoever and wherever 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.” He then ended radio communication, and there, on the silent surface of the moon, 250,000 miles from home, he read a verse from the Gospel of John, and he took communion.’
Here is his account of what happened:
"In the radio blackout, I opened the little plastic packages which contained the bread and the wine. I poured the wine into the chalice our church had given me. In the one-sixth gravity of the moon, the wine slowly curled and gracefully came up the side of the cup. Then I read the scripture: 'I am the vine, you are the branches. Whosoever abides in me will bring forth much fruit .. Apart from me you can do nothing.'
"I had intended to read my Communion passage back to Earth, but at the last minute [they] had requested that I not do this. NASA was already embroiled in a legal battle with Madelyn Murray O'Hare, the celebratedopponent of religion, over the Apollo 8 crew's reading from Genesis while orbiting the moon at Christmas. I agreed reluctantly"
"I ate the tiny Host and swallowed the wine. I gave thanks for the intelligence and spirit that had brought two young pilotsto the Sea of Tranquility. It was interesting for me to think that the very first liquid ever poured on the moon and the very first food eaten there were the communion elements."
And, of course, it's interesting to think that some of the first words spoken on the moon were the words of Jesus Christ, who made the Earth and the moon -and who, in the immortal words of Dante, is Himself the ‘Love that moves the Sun and other stars’. Whether it be the moon or your car; your couch, your kitchen table or St. George’s Church. ...“The Lord is in His holy temple: let all the earth keep silence before Him”.