It was a simpler time — an era when the hearts of Americans were stirred as they heard the voices of their nation's astronauts reading Scripture to the world from outer space. On December 23 of this year one of those astronauts, James Lovell, Command Module pilot of Apollo 8, recalled that moment on Christmas Eve 1968 when he, Commander Frank Borman, and Lunar Module pilot Bill Anders took turns reciting the first 10 verses of Genesis 1, the account of God's creation of the heavens and the earth.
On that day 45 years ago, Lovell, now 85, joined Borman, also now 85, and Anders, now 80, to become the first humans to orbit the moon. And as an estimated one billion people watched on television — the largest single TV audience in history at that time — the trio took a few moments to humbly acknowledge God as the Creator.
‘‘The idea of bringing people together by a flight to the moon where we encompassed everybody in our thoughts is still very valid today,’’ Lovell said, recalling the historic event as he stood by a part of the Apollo 8 spacecraft at the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry. ‘‘The words that we read are very appropriate.’’
The Associated Press reported that to commemorate the event, Lovell joined local high school students and a parent at the museum, with each taking turns reading a few verses from Genesis. Illinois Governor Pat Quinn hosted the event, “calling the broadcast an uplifting message that the country needed in 1968 and one that is still applicable today,” reported AP.
“Lovell said at the time the astronauts weren’t sure who would be listening and how the broadcast would be taken,” the AP account continued,” recalling that the now iconic “Earthrise” photo (shown) was taken by Frank Borman that same day, an image that served to reenforce the powerful truth of the Scripture the three men read to the world below.
William Anders began the astronauts' special Christmas message back to earth, saying that “for all the people on earth, the crew of Apollo 8 has a message we would like to send you.”
He then recited:
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