On 21 July 1969 a quarter of the world’s population watched the grainy black and white images of man’s first steps on the moon. They saw Neil Armstrong, the commander of the Apollo 11 mission, step on to the surface of the moon, after a journey of 500,000 miles, and heard him say, “That’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.” The news of Neil’s death, at the age of 82 following heart bypass surgery, has brought sadness to many around the world. Walking on the moon was a great landmark in the history of human exploration. Since 1972, however, no-one has travelled to the moon.
Tributes have been paid to Neil Armstrong by his colleagues on the Apollo 11 mission. Buzz Aldrin mourned “the passing of a true American hero and the best pilot I ever knew.” Scott Carpenter said, “He was the best of the best.” His family described him as “a reluctant hero.” Charles Boden, a NASA Administrator, said that Neil Armstrong “will be remembered for taking humankind’s first small step on a world beyond our own.”
Very few people will ever have the experience of walking on the moon. However, all of us will one day leave this earth and enter into eternity. This is the ultimate step into “a world beyond our own.” Our life in this world is just for a time, but each of us has an immortal soul which can never die. Death involves the separation of our body and soul. Just before he died Jesus said, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” When he died his body was taken down from the cross and was buried, but his spirit had already passed into heaven. On the third day the tomb was empty because his body had been raised from death. His resurrection triumph offers hope to us all.
It is important to think about the end of our lives and to make preparations for it. The wonderful achievement of the Apollo 11 mission was the culmination of a great deal of preparation by many people over many years. Jesus Christ came into this world to bring hope to us all when we put our trust in him. One hymn writer wrote, “While I draw this fleeting breath, when my eyelids close in death, when I soar through tracts unknown, see Thee on Thy judgement throne, Rock of Ages, cleft for me, let me hide myself in Thee.”