This summer we have commemorated the 50th anniversary of the first walk on the moon in the Apollo 11 mission. I am (only just about!) old enough to recall being woken by my parents to watch grainy pictures of Neil Armstrong's 'giant leap for mankind' at 3.56am on 21 July and, like many of us, I have enjoyed the various films and TV programmes marking the anniversary. As I reflect on the Apollo programme, two spiritual strands of thought come to mind.
First, I am struck by the way astronauts Frank Borman, Jim Lovell and Bill Anders described what they saw when they first travelled to the moon, orbiting it on Apollo 8. The Apollo programme brought together an array of scientists, engineers and test pilots so we might have expected them to refer to a physics text book or a flight manual, but instead they read from the scriptures: their reading from Genesis chapter 1 reflects the unique and special nature of the Bible.
Second, I find myself thinking of Psalm 139 which says, 'If I go up to the heavens, you are there, if I make my bed in the depths you are there … even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast'. We in Poole might never travel to the moon, but we all need to be reminded that God is there in the ups and downs of life. Astronaut Charlie Duke (who walked on the moon in Apollo 16) wisely reminds us to keep things in perspective when he says that his walk on the moon lasted three days but his walk with Jesus lasts for eternity.