It is well-known that today in history, Neil Armstrong became the first man to walk on the moon. His words, "That's one small step for [a] man, one giant leap for mankind" have resonated through history as the defining moment when America not only reclaimed the space race, but achieved a first for all of humanity.
But while Neil Armstrong chose to commemorate the moment with a relishing quote, Buzz Aldrin, an elder at Webster Presbyterian Church in Webster, Texas, chose a different way: communion.
Eric Metaxas, author of Everything You've Always Wanted to Know About God (But Were Afraid to Ask), writes in 2009 that he had had a conversation with Aldrin about his communion experience on the moon. He told Metaxas,
In the radio blackout, I opened the tiny plastic packages that contained the bread and the wine. I poured the wine into the chalice our church had given me. In the one-sixth gravity of the moon, the wine slowly curled and gracefully came up the side of the cup. Then I read the Scripture, "I am the vine, you are the branches. Whoever abides in me will bear much fruit. Apart from me you can do nothing [John 15:5]."The lawsuit that Aldrin referred to was this one: O'Hair v. Paine, 397 U.S. 531 (1970), in which Madalyn Murray O'Hair, the same atheist activist who fought to eradicate prayer from public schools, cited a violation of the First Amendment. The case was dismissed by the Supreme Court due to a lack of jurisdiction. Instead of reading the Bible verse publicly, he radioed this: "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."
I had intended to read my communion passage back to earth, but at the last minute they requested that I not do this. NASA was already embroiled in a legal battle with Madalyn Murray O'Hare [sic], the celebrated opponent of religion, over the Apollo 8 crew reading from the Book of Genesis while orbiting the moon at Christmas. I agreed reluctantly. I ate the tiny Host and swallowed the wine. I gave thanks for the intelligence and the spirit that had brought two young pilots to the Sea of Tranquility. It was interesting for me to think: the first liquid to be poured on the moon, and the very first food eaten there, were the communion elements.
And of course, it's interesting to think that the first words spoken on the moon were the words of Jesus Christ, who made the Earth and the Moon, and Who, in the immortal words of Dante, is Himself the "Love that moves the Sun and other stars."
Aldrin also wrote an account of his experience in his 2009 book, Magnificent Desolation, which you can read here. It also appears in his 1973 book Return to Earth, and in an August 1969 interview with LIFE Magazine. (Snopes.com does not allow the copying of book material, but they were nice enough to give the Internet some portions for the purpose of dispelling doubt.)
According to Wikipedia, the chalice used by Buzz Aldrin is being kept at Webster Presbyterian Church in Webster, Texas, a suburb of Houston near the Johnson Space Center.
McGuire's Place: First Communion on the Moon