RELIGION COLUMN: Preparing for a mission out of this world

Published 2:58 pm Friday, December 16, 2022

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The Orion Spacecraft returned to earth on December 11, splashing down in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of San Diego, CA.  Orion was launched atop a 332-foot rocket called the Artemis I on November 16 from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

NASA describes Artemis I as the most powerful rocket in the world and the first test of NASA’s deep space exploration systems with the goal of returning humans to the moon and later, going to Mars.

The unmanned spacecraft Orion flew farther than any spacecraft built for humans has ever flown, traveling 40,000 miles beyond the far side of the moon.  It flew longer than any human spacecraft without docking to a space station. 

The total mission miles were 1.3 million during a 25 day, 11 hour, and 36 minute flight.  Orion returned to earth faster than any other spacecraft at a speed of 25,000 miles per hour.

The Artemis II mission, planned for 2023, will take four astronauts around the moon, but not to the lunar surface.  Artemis III will land two astronauts near the moon’s South Pole, and is currently scheduled for 2025, according to the Artemis’ launch director.  NASA plans to build a base camp on the moon.

The United States is the only country in the world to put people on the moon.  Twelve astronauts have walked on the moon – beginning with Neil Armstrong’s “one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”

Our family once had the privilege of meeting Astronaut Jim Irwin who flew on the Apollo 15 mission to the moon.  He gave us a photo of himself standing near his lunar module, saluting an American flag planted on the moon’s surface in July 1971.

On the picture, he wrote the words, “Jesus walking on the earth was more important than man walking on the moon.”

Over 2000 years ago, Jesus left the splendor and majesty of heaven to be born of a virgin in a humble stable in Bethlehem.  C.S. Lewis has said, “The Eternal Being, who knows everything and who created the whole universe, became not only a man but (before that) a baby, and before that a fetus in a woman’s body.”

He came to earth for one purpose – to make a way for all mankind to come to God.  Jesus said He came into the world “to seek and to save” the lost (Luke 19:10).  It cost God His only Son and it cost His Son everything.  Jesus lived 33 years on earth, was crucified, buried, and then he rose again, so you and I could be forgiven and spend eternity in heaven.

During this busy time of the year, it’s easy to miss the most important story of Christmas – it’s His story.  Jesus became human flesh and lived among us.  He changed the course of history.  Jesus is the reason for the season.

— Jan White has compiled a collection of her columns in her book, “Everyday Faith for Daily Life.”