EAGLE NEARLY EXPLODES ON THE MOON
Of the week's seven days, the Sabbath providentially was honored as the day of man's first lunar landing. Had another day been chosen, the extent of prayer would have been much less. Churches throughout the Earth held morning services: countless sermons dealt with the landing as a spiritual event deserving prayer. Scripture suggests that prayer, like spacecraft or sailing ships, is launched. A casting your bread (prayer) upon the waters of Earth (or the ocean of space) will return not many days hence with an answer from God.
As the lunar-lander threaded its prescribed path to the Moon's surface that Sabbath, millions of voices wove a web of faith, encompassing the four-legged spider-like vehicle. Indeed, the landing itself called for special faith. The vehicle actually flew backward for an extended period toward its landing site. There were no rear-viewing windows. If the terrain was too boulder populated, disaster might ensue. As Neil Armstrong piloted the craft across a boulder field, another alarm occurred. Unlike, the Program Alarm, I did recall the criteria which ignited the low fuel warning. Only seconds remained. Neil must land or abort!
Though most remember the urgency of bringing the Eagle to rest prior to depleting its fuel, few know of another more ominous event. There was a very real chance that the crew might have died only minutes after landing on the Moon. The design of the descent engine's fuel system required venting the residual fuel after landing. Unknown to the crew, the vent plumbing was constricted by a solid slug of fuel. Without the ability to vent, the warming of the descent fuel by the hot engine nozzle increased tank pressure such that a fatal explosion was imminent.
But another event within the vehicle was at work that had the potential of eliminating the ominous threat. Prior to launch, astronaut Aldrin planned to hold a communion service of one immediately after Eagle's touchdown. Moments after Neil Armstrong's confirmation, "Houston, Tranquility Base, the Eagle has landed," Aldrin was confirming his faith in Christ. Slowly he drew a modest communion cup from stowage along with the elements representing the body and blood of his Savior Jesus Christ. Silently, the words passed through astronaut Aldrin's mind and spirit, "I am the wine...which is given for you..."
Christ acted during the precise moments Aldrin considered Christ's sacrifice for him, the life-threatening slug of fuel broke loose allowing the remaining fuel to harmlessly vent into the lunar environment. Those monitoring the grave situation realized the magnitude of the threat. They had decided to order an abort if the pressure build-up lasted seconds more. Likely, the abort would not have succeeded had the slug of fuel not passed. Time taken to discuss the abort would have proved fatal.
I've often thought of the chain of events which both threatened and rescued those first lunar explorers and wondered: "Did not the mission honor God?" The crew chose biblical and patriotic themes for their vehicles...Columbia, the mother ship, of course in honor of the spirit of exploration exemplified by Columbus but also a type of the Holy Spirit. The root meaning of Columbia is derived from columba meaning the dove. Then, the lander, Eagle, the overcoming bird of Old Testament scripture...the creature that the believer is likened to as rising up, even as Christ arose from the grave.
But most remarkable are the first words spoken from the Moon, "Houston, Tranquillity Base, the Eagle has landed." The word, Houston is derived from hus meaning spirit and ton meaning town or place of dwelling. In a spiritual sense, Armstrong unknowingly communicated to the place where the Holy Spirit dwells.
Scripture speaks of such a place as well. The prophets told of a place of peace or the Jeru (place) Salem (of peace). John, the Revelator, saw a vision of a new place in the heavens where Jesus Christ abides with the Father, the New Jerusalem. Neil Armstrong spoke of the place where Eagle landed in the heavens as a base or place of peace called Tranquillity Base. Armstrong's designation had been divulged to no one prior to his lunar utterance. Was this title providence? A more fitting name could not have been chosen for an endeavor that gave honor to the Holy Trinity.