The Sign of the Cross
In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
The 20th July (tomorrow) was a momentous day in 1969 because TV pictures showed two people walking on the moon for the first time.
Apollo 11 had blasted off from Earth four days earlier. On this day hundreds of millions of television viewers across the world watched as their lunar module separated from the command module of Apollo 11, which continued to orbit the moon. The scenes, beamed back to Earth, showed the moon’s surface be- coming larger until the lunar module came to rest on an area of land called the Tranquillity Sea.
Neil Armstrong’s words to the Command Centre back in Houston, Texas, were heard by millions:
“Houston. This is Tranquility Base. The Eagle has landed!”
A little later Neil Armstrong descended the ladder. As he left the last rung of the ladder, he said:
“That’s one small step for a man; one giant leap for mankind.”
They collected 21 kg (47 lbs) of rock samples to return to the Earth, and they planted the American flag on the moon, saying that they landed there in peace and for all mankind. They also left be- hind on the moon a small sealed capsule which contains the words of one of the prayers of the Bible. It is Psalm 8, and we’ll use that as our prayer today:
Lord, our God and King, your greatness is seen throughout the earth.
When I gaze at the heavens which your fingers have formed, and look at the moon and the stars which you have set there, I realise how small we are
in the majesty of your creation.
Yet you treasure us above all that you have made, and you give us control
over all the works of your hand – animals both wild and tame, birds in the air,
and the creatures of the sea. Lord, our God and King, your greatness is seen throughout the earth.