JOHN 3:13, 16–17
No one has ever gone to heaven and returned. But the Son of Man has come down from heaven.
“For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him.”
On September 12, 1962, President John F. Kennedy stood at Rice Stadium in Houston and gave his famous “Why Go to the Moon” speech: “We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard.”
They called it the “moon-shot,” an ambitious vision to touch the heavens. Nothing like it had ever been done before, and would it even work? But if it did, it would change humanity forever.
Then, just seven years later, Neil Armstrong stood on the moon and said, “That’s one small step for [a] man, one giant leap for mankind.” And something as common as walking became something cosmic.
We started the season of Advent with:
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was formless and empty, and darkness covered the deep waters. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the surface of the waters.
Then God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. And God saw that the light was good. (Gen. 1:1–4)
And as we saw, the result was mission failure: humanity created in the image of the Father turned away in fear and rebellion, and all of creation still suffers. Floods. Cancer. Mass shootings. Sexual assault. Terrorism. War. Hunger. Anxiety. Depression. . . . This isn’t the way it was supposed to be.
Advent was first about getting us ready for Jesus’ return to earth in final victory. But to prepare for that return, we first must join him in his birth: an ambitious desire for heaven to touch earth again. Nothing like this has ever been done before.
Christmas is God’s earth-shot. Literal baby steps for the Son of Man that are giant leaps for all humanity. Bringing together the common and the supernatural: making the ordinary holy. By becoming like one of us who also suffers abuse, rejection, assault, sickness, loneliness, hunger . . . it means he is with us, we are not alone in our darkness, and it will not always be this way.
Something else happened that day on the moon that is significant for our story today. Between landing on the moon and taking the first step, there was first communion. Copilot Buzz Aldrin brought a small pouch of consecrated bread and wine on board, and before the moon-walk, he celebrated Christ’s body and blood beyond the Earth.
Because God’s children are human beings—made of flesh and blood’the Son also became flesh and blood. For only as a human being could he die, and only by dying could he break the power of the devil, who had the power of death. Only in this way could he set free all who have lived their lives as slaves to the fear of dying. (Heb. 2:14–15)
This is the gospel and the mystery of our faith: Christ was born. Christ has died. Christ is risen. Christ will come again.
So come let us adore him.
Buzz Aldrin, “Guideposts Classics: Buzz Aldrin on Communion in Space,” July 10, 2014, www.guideposts.org/better-living/life-advice/finding-life-purpose/guideposts-classics-buzz-aldrin-on-communion-in-space.
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