The Most Important Event in History

The relevance of Christianity is powerfully illustrated in an episode of the award-winning series “The Crown” entitled “Moondust.” (Season 3, episode 7) It is 1969, and Prince Philip (the husband of Queen Elizabeth II) is enthralled by the prospect of man landing on the moon. At the same time, he is increasingly bored and disenchanted with religion. Philip is asked to address a group of Anglican priests who are attending a retreat because of their struggle with discouragement in ministry. He tells them to quit wallowing in self-pity and do something worthwhile with their lives. His implication is that they would probably be better off looking for another profession.

When three Americans land on the moon on July 20, 1969, Philip is convinced this is one of the greatest moments in history. A few weeks later, he is thrilled to learn that the astronauts are planning to visit Buckingham Palace. When they arrive, Philip is immediately captivated by Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins. They are bright young men with impressive backgrounds in science and technology. However, as he converses with them, Philip finds many of their comments disappointing. They don’t seem nearly as enthusiastic about space exploration as Philip has been. In fact, the three Americans appear to be more interested in exploring the palace than they are in discussing the significance of their trip to the moon.

This experience causes a shift in Philip’s perspective. He realizes that “science” may not have the answers to the big questions of life. He meets again with the Anglican priests, apologizes for his previous remarks, and encourages them to continue their efforts to help people find significance in life through their Christian faith.

I was twelve years old in 1969 and remember Neil Armstrong saying as he set foot on the moon’s surface, “one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” I also recall President Nixon declaring that the moon landing was “the most important event in human history.” Yet, the words that impacted my life the most were spoken by Billy Graham. In a gentle rebuke, Graham said, “Mr. President, the most important event in history was not when man went to the moon, but when God came to earth in the person of Jesus Christ.” Over the years, I have become more and more convinced that Graham was right.

The wonders of science and technology in the modern world, epitomized by the moon landing, are indeed significant. Yet, as Prince Philip realized, the big questions we find ourselves asking really are not addressed, much less answered, by science. What is the true purpose of my life? How can I get rid of the feelings of guilt and regret that plague me? Where can I experience truly unconditional love? Is there anything that can give me real hope in the face of death?

Friends, through Jesus, Christianity provides an answer to each of these questions. The purpose of life is to love God and love the people around us. Our sins are forgiven and guilt is removed when we trust in what Jesus accomplished through His death on the cross. Unconditional love is experienced when, through faith in Jesus, we are adopted in God’s family and He is our Father. The only solid hope in the face of death is the hope of resurrection and promise eternal life through Jesus. A trip to the moon may seem more exciting than Christianity, but what Jesus Christ offers those who trust and follow Him is really more significant.
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Pastor Dan Erickson