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A February Valentine:  Love one another. My final lesson of history is the same as that of Jesus.   Love is the most practical thing in the world. If you take an attitude of love toward everybody you meet, you'll eventually get along.”   [Will Durant in his book The Lessons of History, is quoting Jesus here from the gospel of John13:34.]


Great excitement here the last couple of months.  An Arctic snowy owl was sighted in a cornfield about five miles from where I live.  Bird watchers quickly learned of the beautiful bird’s presence and have driven great distances to set up their telescopes to watch it.  Experts are unsure about the reason for the bird’s migration this far south.  Normally feeding and breeding within the Arctic Circle, some believe the food source in the Arctic is insufficient. Though their diet most often consists of lemmings and rodents, snowy owls also eat larger animals such as muskrats, prairie dogs, rabbits, foxes, and dogs.

Barn`s Mate

Communion on the Moon: July 20th, 1969

 “Forty-one years ago today two human beings changed history by walking on the surface of the moon.   But what happened before Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong exited the Lunar Module is perhaps even more amazing, if only because so few people know about it.  I’m talking about the fact that Buzz Aldrin took communion on the surface of the moon.  A few years ago I had the privilege of meeting him myself. I asked him about it and he confirmed the story to me, and I wrote about in my book Everything You Always Wanted to Know About God (But Were Afraid to Ask). The background to the story is that Aldrin was an elder at his Presbyterian Church in Texas, and he would soon be doing something unprecedented in human history, he felt he should mark the occasion somehow and asked his pastor to help him.  And so the pastor consecrated a communion wafer and a small vial of communion wine.  Aldrin took them with him out of the Earth’s orbit and on to the surface of the moon.  He and Armstrong had only been on the lunar surface for a few minutes when Aldrin made the following public statement:  “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.”  He then ended radio communication and there, on the silent surface of the moon, 250,000 miles from home, he read a verse from the Gospel of John, and he took communion.  Here is his own account of what happened:

“In the radio blackout, I opened the little plastic packages which 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. Whosoever abides in me will bring forth much fruit.  Apart from me you can do nothing.’  I had intended to read my communion passage back to earth, but at the last minute they [NASA] had requested that I not do this. NASA was already embroiled in a legal battle with Madelyn Murray O’Hare, the celebrated opponent of religion, over the Apollo 8 crew reading from 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 spirit that had brought two young pilots to the Sea of Tranquility. It was interesting for me to think: the very first liquid ever poured on the moon, and the very first food eaten there, were the communion elements.”  And of course, it’s interesting to think that some of 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.”



“Dear Lord, grant me the grace of wonder.  Surprise me, amaze me, and awe me in every crevice of Your universe.  Delight me to see how Your Christ plays in ten thousand places, lovely in limbs, and lovely in eyes not His, to the Father through the features of men’s faces.  Each day enrapture me with Your marvelous things without number.  I do not ask to see the reason for it all; I ask only to share the wonder of it all.

“ Rabbi Joshua Abraham Heschel.


Snowy Bridge

Magnificent Monotony....Brennan Manning


Sir James Jeans, the famous British astronomer, once said, “The Universe appears to have been designed by a Pure Mathematician.”  Joseph Campbell wrote of “a perception of a cosmic order, mathematically definable.”  As they contemplated the order of the earth, the solar system, and the stellar universe, scientists and scholars have concluded that the Master Planner left nothing to chance.

            The slant of the earth, for example, tilted at an angle of twenty-three degrees, produces our seasons.  Scientists tell us that if the earth had not been tilted exactly as it is, vapors from the oceans would move both north and south, piling up vast continents of ice.

            If the moon were only 50,000 miles away from earth instead of 250,000, the tides might be so enormous that all continents would be submerged in water – even the mountains would be eroded.  If the crust of the earth had been only ten feet thicker, there would be no oxygen, and without it all animal life would die.

            Had the oceans been a few feet deeper, carbon dioxide and oxygen would have been absorbed and no vegetable life would exist.

            The earth’s weight has been estimated at six sextillion tons [that’s a six with twenty-one zeros].  Yet it is perfectly balanced and turns easily on its axis.  It rotates daily at the rate of more than a thousand miles per hour, or 25,000 miles per day.  This adds up to nine million miles a year.  Considering the tremendous weight of six sextillion tons rolling at this fantastic speed around an invisible axis, held in place by unseen bands of gravitation, the words of Job 26:7 take on unparalleled significance: “He poised the earth on nothingness.” 

                                                     Globe 2 Clip Art  

            The earth revolves in its own orbit around the sun, making the long elliptical circuit of about six hundred million miles each year – which means we are traveling through space at nineteen miles per second or about 68000 miles per hour.

            Job further invites us to meditate on “the marvelous works of God” [37:14].  Consider the sun.  Every square yard of the sun’s surface is emitting a constant energy level of 130,000 horsepower [that is, approximately 450 eight-cylinder automotive engines] in flames that are being produced by an energy source much

more powerful than coal. 

            The nine major planets in our solar system range in distance from the sun from 36 million to about 3,664 million miles; yet each moves around the sun in exact precision, with orbits ranging from88 days for Mercury to 248 years for Pluto.

            Still, the sun is only one minor star among the 100 billion burning orbs that comprise the Milky Way galaxy.  If you were to hold out a dime at arm’s length while gazing at the night sky, the coin would block out 15 million stars from your view, if your eyes could see with that power.

            When we attempt to comprehend the almost countless stars and other heavenly bodies in our galaxy alone, we resonate to Isaiah’s paean of praise to the all-powerful Creator:  “Lift your eyes and look:  He who created these things leads out their army in order, summoning each of them by name.  So mighty is His power, so great is His strength, that not one fails to answer” [40:26].  Small wonder that David cries out:

            Yahweh our Lord, how majestic is Your name throughout the world!  Whoever keeps singing of Your majesty higher than the heavens, even through the mouths of children, or of babes in arms, You make him a fortress, firm against Your foes, to subdue the enemy and the rebel.  I look up at Your heavens, shaped by Your fingers, at the moon and the stars You set firm, what are human beings that You spare a thought for them, or the child of Adam that You care for him? [Psalm 8].


            Creation discloses a power that baffles our minds and beggars our speech.  We are enamored and enchanted by God’s power.  We stutter and stammer about God’s holiness....

            We must go out into a desert of some kind [your backyard will do] and come into a personal experience of the awesome love of God.  Then we will nod in knowing agreement with that gifted English mystic Julian of Norwich, “The greatest honor we can give the Almighty God is to live gladly because of the knowledge of His love.”   We shall understand why, as Kittel’s Theological Dictionary of the New Testament notes, that in the last years of his life on the island of Patmos, the apostle John wrote, and wrote with magnificent monotony, of the love of Jesus Christ.  As if for the first time, we shall grasp what Paul meant when he said, “But however much sin increased, grace was always greater; so

that as sin’s reign brought death, so grace was to rule through saving justice that leads to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” [Romans 5:20-21].    [Essay taken from Brennan Manning in his book The Ragamuffin Gospel].