This was first published on July 20, 2017.
The first food and drink consumed on the surface of a world other than Earth was the Blessed Sacrament of Holy Communion. (reserved sacrament)
There are times when being an Episcopalian is downright frustrating. Then, there are times when it makes me very, very proud. This is one of those moments.
In 2003 Episcopal Church General Convention resolved to create a church wide observance for July 20, 2009. July 20 is now on the calendar for the Episcopal Church’s Lesser Feasts and Fasts on in the Book of Common Prayer.
And so, on July 20, 1969, not long after the Eagle landed on the surface of the Moon, Buzz Aldrin used reserve sacraments to celebrate the Holy Eucharist.
“…He radioed: “Houston, this is Eagle. This is the LM pilot speaking. I would like to request a few moments of silence. I would like to invite each person listening in, whoever or wherever he may be, to contemplate for a moment the events of the last few hours, and to give thanks in his own individual way.”
Later he wrote: “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.’ I had intended to read my communion passage back to earth, but at the last minute Deke Slayton had requested that I not do this. NASA was already embroiled in a legal battle with Madelyn Murray O’Hare, the celebrated opponent of religion, over the Apollo 8 crew reading from Genesis while orbiting the moon at Christmas. I agreed reluctantly…Eagle’s metal body creaked. I ate the tiny Host and swallowed the wine. I gave thanks for the intelligence and spirit that had brought two young pilots to the Sea of Tranquility. 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.”…”