Submitted by Andy McIlvain.
July 20, 2019 marked the fiftieth-year anniversary of the Apollo 11 landing on the Moon. I vaguely remember, as a 13-year-old on July 20, 1969, watching the landing with my family, in a home in Pasadena, Texas. Most of us, however, were unaware that Buzz Aldrin, a Presbyterian elder, became the first person to hold a religious ceremony on the Moon, when he privately took communion.
Aldrin 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.” Radio communication stopped, 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.
The Lord’s Supper is a sacrament. But what is a sacrament?
“It is a holy ordinance instituted by Christ in his church, to signify, seal, and exhibit unto those that are within the covenant of grace, the benefits of his mediation; to strengthen and increase their faith, and all other graces; to oblige them to obedience; to testify and cherish their love and communion one with another; and to distinguish them from those that are without.” (Westminster Long Catechism, Q.162)
The Lord’s Supper makes available the benefits of Christ in the sense that those benefits are made available to all believers. This does not mean that the bread and wine have some supernatural power. The reality of Christ’s work in our lives depends on the work of the Holy Spirit and the promise of God in the words of institution.
Augustine and John Calvin explained the Lord’s Supper as a “bond of love” among believers. All Christians then are united to Christ as their one Head and to one another in the body of Christ. This understanding of our union with Christ and our communion with each other results in mutual love and fellowship, all to the glory of Christ.
The Lord’s Supper is one of the most precious gifts Christ has given to his church. Let’s eat it together.