The First Religious Sacrament Performed on Another Heavenly BodyBuzz Aldrin - Handwritten Notes and Scriptures Flown to the Surface of the Moon. Front and verso of a 3" x 5" buff-colored lightweight card, one horizontal fold affecting some text, about fine condition.
The entire world was watching and listening to every word uttered and every step taken by Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong during the 21+ hours they were on the surface of the moon in July of 1969. The first words uttered by Armstrong as he stepped out of the Lunar Module Eagle are still familiar to all. A great sense of national accomplishment swept over most all Americans that month as three brave astronauts flew toward the goal set by President John F. Kennedy just eight years earlier when he said: "I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the earth." Why did Kennedy want this accomplishment so badly? He elaborated in 1962 at Rice Stadium in Houston: "We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too." It took many many brave and brilliant men to accomplish this goal with Apollo 11 being the mission of ultimate attainment.
The astronauts of the Apollo 8 mission were so inspired by their view of the earth from moon orbit the previous Christmas Eve that they read the biblical account of the creation story from Genesis. Noted atheist Madalyn Murray O'Hair brought suit against NASA over this Bible reading asking the courts to ban any further such activity. Though the courts eventually rejected the suit, NASAquite nervous about further religious activities throughout the rest of the Apollo program. Buzz Aldrin, a Christian and an elder at the Webster (Texas) Presbyterian Church, wished to express his personal faith and give thanks to God by the taking of the Holy Communion on the moon. His church furnished him with the wine and wafer which he stowed secretly in his kit. He described the activity in his book Return to Earth (Bantam Books, 1973): "During the first idle moment in the LM before eating our snack, I reached into my personal preference kit and pulled out two small packages which had been specially prepared at my request. One contained a small amount of wine, the other a small wafer. With them and a small chalice from the kit, I took communion on the moon, reading to myself from a small card [the item offered here] I carried on which I had written the portion of the Book of John used in the traditional communion ceremony." He had wanted to read the scripture back to earth but NASA requested that he not do so. Instead, he read from this card, on which is written: "Houston This is Eagle The LM Pilot speaking. I would like to request a few moments of silence. Over. I would like to invite each person listening in, wherever and whomever he may be, to contemplate for a moment the events of the past few hours and to give thanks in his own individual way- - My way shall be by partaking of the elements of Holy Communion." His fellow astronaut, Neil Armstrong, watched but did not partake.
The verses he would have liked to have read are found at the top of the other side of this handwritten card: "An [sic] Jesus said, '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.' [John 15:5]" There are additional, and very appropriate, verses beneath in a different ink that Aldrin di d actually quote three days later during a TV broadcast by the astronauts aboard Columbia the evening before they splashed down safely in the Pacific. He writes: "Psalm 8: v. 3,4 'When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou has ordained; What is man that thou art mindful of him? And the Son of Man, that thou visitest Him?'"
This is a desirable and valuable piece of space memorabilia as is everything that has been carried down to the surface of the moon and returned to earth: a symbol of mankind's need to explore the unknown and evidence of our scientific abilities. It's also a desirable and valuable piece of religious memorabilia: a symbol of one man's need to explore what can only be known by faith and evidence of his belief in a power much greater than his own. By the way, Lunar Communion Sunday continues to be celebrated annually at Webster Presbyterian Church on the Sunday nearest the anniversary of the first moon landing. Dr. Aldrin has written a personal reflection on the importance of his faith, especially at the time when he himself was cast among the heavens. The letter is included with this lot, and will be available for viewing in its entirety on our website. From the personal collection of Dr. Buzz Aldrin and also accompanied by a signed Letter of Authenticity from him.
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