I watched the Today show this morning and was really surprised at how much ground they covered. For starters, Matt Lauer, Al Roker and the rest of the group were dancing to the concert by Lionel Ritchie which was taking place outside the NBC studios in downtown New York City. In fact, according to a news report I heard, Ritchie has the number one album in sales so far this year.
During the Olympics over the last several weeks, they did a great job of bringing feature stories back to the US public, but I was of the opinion that once the Olympics were over, the great stories would stop. But I have been surprised.
For example, today was the 35th anniversary of the death of Elvis Presley at his Graceland home in Memphis. A reporter was inside the property speaking with the Priscilla and also Lisa Marie about the life of the “King” and their remembrances of him. They also went on a tour of the home and it was quite something to behold. I was impressed by the whole piece and all of the coverage they dedicated to the story. In fact, apparently, more than 75,000 people held a candlelight vigil outside the gates of the estate last evening.
As if that wasn’t enough for one day, Al Roker did a feature piece on heading to a NASA lab where he was able to gain access to a vault of moon rocks. After donning lab clothes and going through a series of successively more thorough cleaning chambers, he put on three sets of gloves and was able to pick up and hold several moon rocks from the Apollo 11 mission, the one where Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin actually walked on the moon and collected the samples. What really made the piece infinitely more interesting for me was the fact that Buzz Aldrin himself actually escorted Al through the labs and talked about his experiences as the cameras were rolling.
He recalled the landing, the anxiety and excitement of the original landing spot being full of rubble and having to land at a slightly different site. He discussed the gathering of the rock samples and of course, the famous picture of him, taken by Armstrong, with the Lunar Excursion Module and Armstrong himself captured in the reflective coating on Aldrin’s sun shield. That is probably one of the most famous pictures in the world…
When Roker asked Aldrin about his turn handling the samples, Aldrin deadpanned, “Been there, done that…” It was pretty priceless and I laughed out loud. But to me, the greatest insight in Aldrin’s complex personality came when Al Roker asked Aldrin what he saw when he looked up at the moon, more than 43 years after he set foot on that remote outpost. Aldrin’s answer was fabulous – he said, “It used to be a stranger, but now it’s my friend…”
I just sat there and thought about his comment. Something that seems so much a part of our lives – the moon – that we take for granted – holds such a special place for Buzz. He actually has something in common with it, as a friend, because he has had a unique vantage point that none of us can identify with. What must it have been like to have actually set foot on the moon? To experience reduced gravity, the excitement of landing on a remote heavenly body, actually placing an American flag on the moon. To say nothing of the excitement of take-off and being reunited with the Command Module piloted by Mike Collins, the only member of the crew who stayed in orbit and never landed on the surface.
I got to thinking about Buzz’s relationship with the moon and how in some ways it mirrors my relationship with God. Before I had a personal encounter with God, I saw religion as some always there, like the moon. Something always present and there to look at, from a distance. In fact, I think that I believed that it would never come to pass that I could ever have a personal encounter with God; much the same as Buzz and his ultimate trip to the moon.
But once I did have a personal relationship with God, He was no longer a stranger – he became my Savior, my Lord, my friend… I guess you know how strongly I feel about this. Something so remote and far away, suddenly close and familiar and comforting – even when we are “apart.”
The verse for tonight comes from Genesis and is part of the creation story. We are told in Gen. 2:1, “Thus the heavens and the earth were completed in all their vast array.” Pretty short, but focusing on the vastness of the creation of God. My encouragement tonight is that God has individual relationships with us, and we are as vast and varied as the rest of His creation. So no matter how different or diverse, or how distant you may feel from God, there is hope for Him to become your friend, as well as your Savior – just like Aldrin and his trip to the moon. My prayer is that you will have a unique and fulfilling experience with God and you will appreciate the complexity of your relationship with Him. So have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace…