It is the 20th of July 2020. Welcome to the Christian History Almanac brought to you by 1517 at 1517.org, I'm Dan van Voorhis.
The year was 1969.
The Academy Award for Best Picture went to "Oliver!," a musical based on the Dicken's character. It is the only G-rated movie to have won the award for Best Picture.
The Pulitzer for fiction went to the "House Made of Dawn" by N. Scott Momaday. This mid-century novel was about an American Indian readjusting to life back on the reservation after serving in WWII. It was praised as a masterpiece about the human condition, as well as the native experience in America.
The Grammy for the Album of the Year went to Glen Campbell's "By The Time I Get To Phoenix." Not a bad album, I guess, but it beat both the "Magical Mystery Tour" and "Bookends" by Simon and Garfunkel. However, music in 1969 should be represented by self-titled albums from both the Velvet Underground and Crosby, Stills, and Nash, the Rolling Stones' "Let it Bleed" and David Bowie's "Space Oddity."
The first Dove Awards took place in 1969. The first Dove award for song of the year went to "Jesus is Coming Soon," written by Blind Willie Johnson. While Johnson's version and other blues interpretations can be quite good, the popular version of this song in 1969 came from the Oak Ridge Boys.
Super Bowl III took place in 1969 and featured the upstart Jets and Joe Namath, shocking the world by beating the Baltimore Colts. Later in October, the Amazin' Mets, the expansion team that had been a laughingstock, won the World Series. They were led by the likes of Cleon Jones, Art Shamsky, and pitcher Tom Seaver.
Of course, the story of the year was the landing of the lunar module from Apollo 11 on the moon. It was, in fact, on this day, the 20th of July, in 1969, that this happened. However, an event relevant to the church took place as the astronauts waited to disembark. It was on this day in 1969 that Buzz Aldrin became the first man to take communion in space. Aldrin was an elder back home at Webster Presbyterian church and it was there that he conceived of receiving the sacrament in space. He kept it low key, while he said to listeners back home from the face of the moon, "I would like to request a few moments of silence, I would like to invite each person listening in, wherever and whomever he may be, to contemplate for a moment the events of the past few hours and to give thanks in his own individual way."
Aldrin then read scripture privately to himself and communed with the elements that had been prepared by his church. He had brought a small silver chalice and reported that when he poured the wine in the one-sixth gravity of the moon, the wine curled up the side of the chalice. Thus, the first liquid ever poured on the moon was the consecrated blood of Jesus.
Aldrin kept it mostly private, as not everyone who worked on the mission were themselves Christians. Furthermore, after the Apollo 8 astronauts became the first to orbit the moon, they publicly read from Genesis. The generally cranky and litigious Madalyn Murray O'Hair had sued NASA for that. It gave Aldrin one more reason to make a general statement and then become the first person to receive the body and blood of our Lord for the forgiveness of sins in outer space. Since then, three Catholics on board the Endeavor in 1994 took communion, an Israeli astronaut said the Shabbat Kiddush prayer from space in 2013, and a Russian cosmonaut took a relic of St. Serafim with him in 2017.
The reading for today on the communion theme in light of our remembering the lunar communion comes from Robert Campbell's hymn, "At the Lambs High Feast We Sing." We read the first stanza.
At the Lamb's high feast we sing
praise to our victorious King,
who has washed us in the tide
flowing from his pierced side;
praise we him whose love divine
gives his sacred blood for wine,
gives his body for the feast,
Christ the victim, Christ the priest.
This has been the Christian History Almanac for the 20th of July 2020 brought to you by 1517 at 1517.org. The show is produced by a man who reminds you to "take your protein pills and put your helmet on" Christopher Gillespie. The show is written and read by Dan van Voorhis. You can catch us here every day and remember that the rumors of grace, forgiveness, and the redemption of all things are true…. Everything is going to be ok.