All this week we have been talking about Christmas and reminiscing about different Christmas memories from days gone by. Today I wanted to share about one of my most vivid Christmas memories: A Christmas greeting from space.
It wasn’t little green men in flying saucers who wished a Merry Christmas. It was American astronauts. Bill Anders, Jim Lovell, and Frank Borman—the three men onboard the Apollo 8 spacecraft—spent Christmas of 1968 orbiting the moon. On Christmas Eve, as their module made its way around the moon, the three men passed around a sheet of fireproof paper, taking turns reading the words printed on it—the first 10 verses from the Book of Genesis—all on international television.
Commander Borman ended the transmission by saying, “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.”
Nearly forty-five years have come and gone since that night. Americans have more than orbited the moon; we’ve walked on it. The Apollo 8 astronauts knew they were part of something historic, but at the same time they knew they were paving the way for something even bigger. They could have said anything to the folks back home. They chose to read from Genesis because it seemed appropriate and they believed it would resonate with people—and it did.
There’s something about scripture that demands a response from us. Most people who heard the Genesis-reading said it was powerful. Walter Cronkite said he teared up as he heard it. One person filed a lawsuit, which was dismissed by the Supreme Court. You cannot hear scripture and be left unmoved.
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As Christmas approaches, I hope you and your family have a truly blessed time together.