Monday, July 27, 2009

Extraterrestrial liturgy

Both Beliefnet and the Times of London cover the under-reported event of the first Holy Communion on the moon, conducted July 20, 1969 by Buzz Aldrin prior to his historic moonwalk.

Aldrin wrote about this in the October 1970 Guideposts magazine (which was later printed in the July 1989 issue). The story was also recounted by Eric Metaxas (in his 2005 book) and his blog
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.’
Aldrin’s notes for the brief service were auctioned in 2007 for nearly $180,000.

Blogger Bosco Peters in NZ observes that Aldrin was one of the most educated of the early astronauts, with an MIT Ph.D. — and of course a committed Christian. Peters would like to claim Aldrin as an Anglican, but in fact Aldrin was an elder in a Presbyterian parish in suburban Houson.

It is encouraging that parish (and one other) still commemorate this historic communion. Somehow I'm less comforted by the 2003 ECUSA resolution asking that it be marked as a “lesser feast” in Episcopal liturgy, sharing July 20 with “Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Amelia Bloomer, Sojourner Truth, & Harriet Ross Tubman-Liberators and Prophets.”

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