Astronauts reminded us ‘In the beginning …

Published 1:14 am Saturday, January 2, 2016

Forty-seven years ago, the Apollo 8 astronauts were in a tiny spacecraft traveling at 24,000 miles per hour, going where no one had gone before.

During their mission from December 21 – 27, 1968, the three astronauts circled the moon ten times. Described as not much bigger than a Volkswagen, the cone-shaped capsule carried William Anders, Jim Lovell, and Frank Borman nearly a quarter of a million miles from home.

Humans had never seen the far side of the moon, nor the Earthrise from outer space. The astronauts captured the beauty of the Earth from the moon in the now-famous photograph of our blue-and-white planet, suspended in the blackness of our galaxy.

On Christmas Eve 1968, as they orbited about 70 miles above the gray lunar surface, an estimated two billion of the three billion people on the planet heard each of the astronauts read from the first ten verses of Genesis chapter 1.

“’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. 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.’

“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 he 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.”

That first Christmas, God created a cosmic sign to guide the Magi to the Christchild. Biblical scholar Colin Nichols writes, “The Star of Bethlehem underscores God’s mastery over the cosmos. For this great heavenly display to happen at the birth of Jesus, it had to have been tailored-made…its size, shape, orbit, and chemical composition. And to think that this plan had been in motion from the birth of the solar system – it really is amazing.”

Apollo 15 astronaut Jim Irwin, who walked on the lunar surface, once said, “Jesus walking on the earth was more important than man walking on the moon.” The Bible tells us, “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God…And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us” (John 1:1, 14).


-Jan White is an award-winning columnist.