9th December 2012


“…In the beginning, O Lord, you laid the foundations of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands. They will perish but you remain; they will wear out like a garment…. But you will remain the same, and your years will never end.”
Hebrews 1:10-12 (NIV UK)

On Christmas Eve, 1968, Apollo 8 astronauts Frank Borman, Jim Lovell and William Anders were broadcast live on American television. As they displayed pictures of the Earth and Moon as seen from Apollo 8, Command module pilot Jim Lovell said, “The vast loneliness is awe-inspiring and it makes you realise just what you have back there on Earth.”

They ended the broadcast with the crew taking turns reading from the first 10 verses of the book of Genesis. Lunar module pilot William Anders said: “For all the people on Earth the crew of Apollo 8 has a message we would like to send you: ‘In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, Let there be light: and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness.’”

Jim Lovell continued: “And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day. And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters. And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament: and it was so. And God called the firmament Heaven. And the evening and the morning were the second day.”

Commander Frank Borman finished the reading with: “And God said, Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so. And God called the dry land Earth; and the gathering together of the waters called he Seas: and God saw that it was good.”

Borman then added, “And from the crew of Apollo 8, we close with good night, good luck, a Merry Christmas, and God bless all of you—all of you on the good Earth.”

Like the Apollo 8 astronauts, King David the psalmist was struck by the majesty of the starry night sky and wrote: “When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained; What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him? For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honour” (Psalm 8:3-5, KJV).

The question, “What is man that thou art mindful of him?” takes on new meaning in the New Testament, where we learn that our heavenly Father loves humanity so much that he sent his Son to become human, taking all human sin on himself and destroying it so that through the Holy Spirit humans can share in the eternal relationship of love that Jesus shares with the Father. May the awe-inspiring beauty of the vast creation forever remind us that we belong to the One whose love for us will never cease.

Holy Father, when we look up into the night sky, at the moon, and remember that man has walked on the moon, the contrast with you who made the moon and stars is awesome. We acknowledge your greatness, Father, and we give you unstinting praise. In Jesus’ name we pray.

Study by Joseph Tkach

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