I recall a visit to the Kennedy Space Centre visitor park at Cape Canaveral, a place I would recommend to everyone who has lived through the development of space travel, including the latest developments with SpaceEx and Blue Origin.
During one of the presentations about the Apollo program, and the development of the Saturn V rockets that would take men to the moon, I heard that there was over two million individual components in the complete rocket. Each of these components had been tested and calibrated and retested several times so they worked perfectly. However, it was only on the launchpad that the whole system would be tried out for the first time. Sadly for the crew of Apollo 1 in February 1967, that would prove fatal and three astronauts lost their lives. After some non-crewed flights Apollo 8 launched in December 1968 and the three man crew became the first human space flight to reach the moon. Apollo 11 in July 1969 would see man land on the moon. The Saturn V rocket by 1969 was the size of a 36 story building, had the explosive power in its fuel tanks equivalent to the first hydrogen bomb and had less computing power than smart phones we carry today. That is why Neil Armstrong ended up manually landing the lunar module Eagle some three miles from the projected landing site!
I sometimes think that the Church feels a bit like the Saturn V in so far as it has millions of components that need to work together in a way that brings transformation in the world through changes in peoples lives. We need to be reminded that the power source of the Church is greater still than any human manufactured engine. That we are guided by a Spirit that is always heading in the right direction, even if we find that difficult to follow and that our ultimate goal is to help bring people home to Christ. Perhaps we at Roberts Park can take a leaf out of the new NASA program Artemis.
The Artemis program, (Artemis was the twin sister of Apollo) is again looking to land humans back on the moon as a stepping stone to getting to Mars. Artemis will break new boundaries in so many ways not least in that it has the first female launch director, the first African American and the first Asian astronauts and the Space Launch System Starship rocket will be a bigger and more powerful (and more recyclable) that any of its predecessors. Artemis 2, the first crewed flight is planned for May 2024
Let us pray that we at Roberts Park can break new boundaries as we launch out into the third century of work and witness to community around us and afar. May we have vision enough to see the opportunities beyond the stars around us, and be bold enough to reach for them.
Shalom to you, my friend.