From the Editor—Friday Reflections

July 19, 2019

Chariots of Fire

Lunar Apostles & Prophetic Sky Riders

Fifty years ago tomorrow, July 20, Americans landed on the moon. All told, twelve men (lunar apostles?) have walked on the moon. All of them were Americans. The last one did so in 1972. Perhaps having seen the lunar desert up close, there is not much else to see forty-seven years later

Neil Armstrong, upon stepping on the lunar surface, said,

"That's one small step for [a] man, one giant leap for mankind."

While the indefinite article is not audible in the recording, Armstrong said that's what he intended to say and thought he said it. It may also be that his southern accent blurred the two words and/or transmission static obscured it. It makes much more sense to read it that way. One man, Neil Armstrong, was taking a step, but his small step represented a giant leap for mankind.

Also of interest is that Buzz Aldrin, lunar module pilot, who was an elder in the Webster Presbyterian Church (Texas), had his pastor, Dean Woodruff, prepare Holy Communion for him to transport to the moon. Two and a half hours after landing, Aldrin said,

"This is the LM pilot. I'd like to take this opportunity to ask every person listening in, whoever and wherever they may be, to pause for a moment and contemplate the events of the past few hours and to give thanks in his or her own way."

Aldrin then partook of Holy Communion. Also, a plaque was left on the moon, inscribed:

"Here men from the planet Earth first set foot upon the Moon, July 1969, A.D. We came in peace for all mankind."

The A.D. was added deliberately as a Christian reference.

I find it interesting that this mission, showcasing man's technological abilities over nature, landed on July 20, the Feast Day of the Prophet Elijah (Elias in Greek) in both the East and the West.

In Elijah's day, a unique mastery over nature was wielded through the Prophet: "As the Lord God of Israel lives, before whom I stand, there shall be neither dew nor rain these years, except by my word."

St. James confirms this power:

"Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth. Then he prayed again, and heaven gave rain, and the earth bore its fruit." (5:17)

Elijah, with Moses, appeared at the Transfiguration with Christ. Both had been intimates of the Lord God--Moses at the Burning Bush and on Mt. Sinai; Elijah at Mt. Carmel (more fire!) and Mt. Horeb:

Not in an earthquake, but in a light breeze didst thou behold the presence of the Lord God, which enlightened thee of old...

(From the Stichera, Vespers of St. Elijah)

O blessed one who beholdeth God, we proclaim thee in unison as an all-radiant luminary ... and angel in the body burning with divine zeal, uprooting infidelity and rebuking those who turn away from the law, and the head of the Prophets.... (First Kathisma, Matins of Prophet Elijah)

Finally, as impressive as the American moonshot was, beginning, as they always do, with a fiery take off, Elijah's ascent was spectacular, ascending in a fiery chariot:

... mounting on a swift four-horsed chariot, thou,O Elias inspired of God,didst strangely ride through the sky, O divinely blest, being wondrous in the sight of all. (From the Stichera, Vespers of St. Elijah)

It is said that 600 million of Earth's 3.5 billion people watched the lunar landing and moonwalk. The astronauts became international celebrities and went on tour, visiting 24 countries in 45 days, from Argentina to Zaire, North Korea to Norway, Australia to the Vatican.

Is there anyone since who has garnered such universal prominence and acclaim? Will there ever be? While Elijah did leave planet Earth, his return is expected:

Before the end of the world Elias will appear again to put an end to the power of the anti-Christ. (Synaxarion of the Feast)

That mission will inaugurate a big show, a Leap for mankind, when Christ returns, Lord of heaven and earth, moon included, and claims his throne. Just you watch.

Yours for Christ, Creed & Culture,

James M. Kushiner
Executive Director, The Fellowship of St. James


James M. Kushiner is Executive Editor of Touchstone: A Journal of Mere Christianity, and Executive Director of The Fellowship of St. James.