As the moon waxes and wanes it not only controls the earth’s tidal waters but seems to affect some human mood swings, hence the term lunatic for people with symptoms of unstable emotions and erratic behaviour (from luna, Latin for moon).
In ancient Babylon the moon and sun were believed to be gods to be feared and worshipped. Genesis chapter 1 was their Creator’s published antidote to such heresy. And David, perhaps while minding his father’s sheep some moonlit nights, praised the Creator on his stringed instrument:
‘When I look at the heavens, the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars, which you have set in place,
what is man that you … care for him? …
You have given him dominion over the works of your hands’ (Psalm 8:3-4).
Hence, the human ability and right to achieve the wonder of space travel.
While visiting Christian friends in Belfast over that memorable Christmas when earthlings first orbited the moon, we were thrilled to hear an astronaut read Genesis chapter 1. However, Madelyn Murray O’Hare, the renowned opponent of religion, engaged NASA in a legal battle for broadcasting that Bible reading worldwide. For her, it would seem, scientific technology is the god to be worshipped!
Now, although everyone knows Neil Armstrong’s a small step for me; a gigantic step for mankind sentence, few of us realise that, in fact, it had been preceded by the first words ever to be read aloud on the surface of the moon, inside the lunar module, when Buzz Aldrin had recited those sayings of Jesus, the moon’s Creator:
‘I am the vine; you are the branches. Whosoever abides in me … bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing’ (John 15:5),
as he took communion! Aldrin, an elder in a Presbyterian church in Texas, had brought with him a communion wafer and a small vial of communion wine, blessed by the minister of his church. (He was fascinated to watch the outpoured wine slowly and gracefully curl up the inside of the cup due to the moon’s one-sixth gravity!)
‘I gave thanks for the intelligence and spirit that had brought two young pilots to the Sea of Tranquillity. It was interesting for me to think: the very first liquid ever poured on the moon, and the very first food eaten there, were the communion elements.’
Think of that next time you share in the covenant meal with fellow believers, and whoop with joy at the ultimate prospect of those new heavens and new earth! The Saviour’s death accomplished far more than sorting out the problem of your personal sinful state and many sins committed – although that in itself is reason enough for your thankfulness.