I was only sixteen when Neil Armstrong got on the freeway in Houston, took a wrong turn in Pasadena, went into orbit and mooned the world after landing in Nebraska. He was about to make a famous quote when angry cornhuskers attacked him. He immediately returned to his module and headed for a safer, more civilized environment. This is where the history books pick up the story and he lands on the moon.

After unbuckling his seatbelt he opens the hatch to descend the ladder but his face swells up and he nearly implodes. He immediately closes the hatch, puts on his pressurized space helmet and tries it again. He descends the ladder, steps onto the surface of the moon and says, “Houston, I don’t think we’re in Kansas anymore.” Then he turns his microphone on and gives the famous but somewhat garbled quote about small steps and giant lips for mankind.

There are some interesting facts about the moon. It has a colorless appearance as it just sits there and absorbs the sun, very much like professional sports agents. The rise and fall of the ocean tides on earth are caused by the moon. It is also a scientific fact that the rolling tide in Alabama is caused by really good football players. So far the moon is the only body in space where humans have landed. Several years ago humans accidentally landed in California but they all died off.

Along with space capsules other objects that have spent time in space -- like the person who invented child-proof pill bottles – are on display at the Space, Rocket, and Exorbitantly Over-priced Gift Shop Center in Huntsville, Alabama. They have simulating machines that allow people with a less-than-sensational IQ to experience some of the same sensations as the astronauts, such as the IMAX, short for Indigestion Maximum. An IMAX screen resembles the working end of a roll-on deodorant.

On one screen I saw a spaceship launched with two giant boosters attached to it. (Once the capsule is in orbit the boosters fall off, hang around in space for a while, then fall to earth where they  rush up to high school athletes and give them lots of cash to play football in college.) The astronaut then walks into space to shoot some video, which in turn creates in me  a sensation of extreme hurling. I hadn’t been that queasy since Roseanne Barr sang the National Anthem at a San Diego Padres baseball game in 1990. If that’s what space is like then I don’t want to go.

It seems some people feel the same way about church. They hear about fighting and squabbling in the church. They see Christians in the workplace acting in a manner that does not speak highly of Jesus. Everything they see from people inside the church is a simulation nowhere near reality. Their conclusion is if that is what church is like then they don’t want to go.

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to understand the basic theme of the Bible: “God loves you.” People need to see genuine love, the kind only Jesus gives. I John 4:9-10 says “God showed  how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him. This is real love – not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.” (NLT)

That message is so powerful it doesn’t need a booster rocket to go into the world. It just needs you and me. Until we share the story it simply waits on the launching pad. Sharing the good news of God’s love is a small step for some . . . and a giant leap for others.

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