Fifty years ago, on December 24, 1968, as Christmas Eve three Apollo 8 astronauts -- Frank Borman, Jim Lovell, and Bill Anders -- saw the Earth from a vantage point no one had ever before experience. They watched the Earth rise about the surface of the moon.
An iconic photo
Bill Anders snapped a photo that almost everyone on our planet recognizes. It captures a small blue ball arise in the darkness of space over a lifeless lunar landscape. The Earth appears fragile yet vibrant, suspended in the void of space yet teaming with life.
An iconic Scripture
As the three shared their experience via a video link with Earth, they participated in an extraordinary act. They took turns reading from Genesis 1. “For all the people back on Earth," Anders said, "the crew of Apollo 8 has a message that we would like to send you: In the beginning, God created the heaven and the Earth; and the Earth was without form, and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep; and the spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters…."
The God who is greater than all icons
Christian author Eugene Peterson writes of that moment, "Man’s most impressive technological achievement to date was absorbed in the declaration of God’s creative act. Apollo, the most dashing of the pagan Greek gods, bowed down in worship to 'God, the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth.' The astronauts did what a lot of people spontaneously do when they integrate an alert mind with a reverent heart--they worshipped (As Kingfisher’s Catch Fire: A Conversation on the Ways of God Formed by the Words of God).
The Creator God who became a creature
Our astronauts led our planet in worship that day, in acknowledging God's creative power and wisdom. We Christians know of much greater reason to worship him. The God who created a perfect universe left his heaven to redeem the creation we humans have ruined, to pay the judgment price our sins demanded of us all.
We Christians have every reason to dedicate ourselves to the worship of God. "God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship" (Galatians 4:4-5). We Christians have every reason to broadcast that message to our planet.