Americans were busy with the hustle and bustle that was Christmas but we were also paying attention to the NASA Apollo 8 mission, for astronauts Bill Anders, Jim Lovell and Frank Borman were approaching the moon and preparing to go into orbit around the lunar body. This space voyage was a first in many ways: a first time for travel beyond earth's orbit, a first trip to the moon and seeing it's other side and the first time that man took pictures of the beautiful panorama of the earth and moon in one shot.
But as a first time event for so many things, Americans at parties and family gatherings everywhere were following closely. On it's first orbit of the moon, we all were nervous during its period of non-radio contact on the backside of the moon, knowing that should it not come back into contact, we would never know what happened to these brave men. And there were gasps of amazement as the first pictures of what they were seeing were coming to view, historical pictures that we would never forget. But most important and critical was the concern of whether or not the engines would fire when needed, propelling the Apollo 8 module out of lunar orbit for the return home.
Thankfully, all went well. Communications returned as planned after each rotation around the moon's dark side, the pictures taken became internationally acclaimed to this day and the engines to bring them home safely worked like a charm. But there was something of even more special significance to many of us at that time of joy and peace of Christmas and it was the words of Genesis, the story of earth's creation from the Bible, which these three special men read to us on Christmas Eve from the moon. Here it is in it's entirety just as it was read:
Bill Anders -
"We are now approaching lunar sunrise, and for all the people back on Earth, the crew of Apollo 8 has a message that we would like to send to 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 -
"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."
Frank Borman -
"And God said, Let the waters under the heaven 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 the Seas: and God saw that it was good."
"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."
These early explorers of the celestial realm were no doubt wrapped in the protective care of God's love in their mission above and it is clear that He appreciated their recognition of the beauty and majesty of His Creation which they were able to capture so vividly. Today, nearly forty-nine years later, we need to keep a proper focus on the wonders and the majesties that God has granted us and honor His wishes for maintaining proper stewardship in our dominion over the earth. It's the least we can do for He who has given us so much and for our fellow earthly inhabitants.
Merry Christmas and God bless you all.
Photos courtesy of NY Daily News