On Tuesday the 21st July, the world celebrated the 40th anniversary of man landing on the moon. I remember, as a boy, being fascinated by this technological marvel and staying up until all hours to watch the special television broadcasts of key events. And is was a echnological marvel for its day, although today most mobile telephones have more technology in them that went up in the Apollo 11 spacecraft and a good quality laptop has more computing power that whole of Mission Control put together!
I have heard people complain about the amount of money that was spent on space exploration but then the good ladies of America spent more on cosmetics during that time, far outstripping the entire moon programme budget! It's all about perspective. Much of the flight technology that we use today was born out of the space programme and even everyday household items such as WD40 and Velcro were invented for use in space. As space exploration continued, more powerful computers were needed with even more complex programmes and these just had to be invented or the projects would founder.
We have benefited in so many ways from the space programme and it's worth reflecting on that next time you make yourself a Cuppa Soup. Yes, they were first invented for the astronauts use. It is said that over half the technology we use today was either born or refined as part of America's space exploration. Neil Armstrong was right when he said that he took 'one small step for man, but a giant leap for mankind.'
And I think we should celebrate that. Not just the fact that we put a man on the moon, but all of the human creativity that went into making that possible, as well as the advances in science and medicine that have happened as a result. We do tend to take things for granted today, the reliability of our cars, aeroplanes, household goods and medical expertise. And because of that, we don't always give thanks for the good things that we have because others have sacrificed lives and families in order to produce all that we enjoy today. But despite their efforts, there is still so much that we don't know and probably will never know in this life.
Even Charles Darwin who tried to explain our existence in his famous 'Origin of Species', ends that seminal work with the words 'There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed by the Creator…' Perhaps because of our technological brilliance, because we have put a man on the moon and can do the most amazing things in medicine and the sciences, we forget that our intellects, our talents and abilities, are all gifts from the Creator. Psalm 139 says 'O Lord, you have searched me out and known me; you know my sitting down and my rising up; you discern my thoughts from afar. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, so high that I cannot attain it. For you yourself created my inmost parts; you knit me together in my mother's womb. I thank you for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.' Sometimes we can't see the wood for the trees.
Sometimes we get so wrapped up in our lives and in our achievements that we forget where we came from. So let's celebrate the Moon landings and all that went into making them happen and all that has happened since. But also, during this summer, let's try to put aside all that we know (or at least think we know) and take a fresh look at creation all around us - and remind ourselves that we are indeed 'fearfully and wonderfully made.'
I hope you enjoy the summer - when it arrives!
With all good wishes,