Summary: Reflections on the Columbia Disaster
The Times and the Seasons
I remember, as many of you do, 1957. We each remember ift for many different reasons. Television was new in my hometown. Cable had found it way to that part of Texas. The world was opening up and it was opening at a time that I was growing interested in the fact that there might possibly be something outside our city limits.
There were people like Roger Mudd telling us about events that happened in places that I could not only not spell but also needed help finding them on the globe in my room.
One day there was a surprise. Not just for me but from the looks on their faces of grown men whose job it was to not be surprised. One day in October of that year, Russia sent up Sputnik 1.
About a month later, they sent up yet another. While America was envious, they were also excited. Imagine, flying in outer space. This was "Buck Rogers" stuff.
Of course, America could not and would not be outdone. In January of the next year, we sent up Explorer 1 and we too were part of the space program. America was ever bit as smart as a bunch of Communist.
I was in High School when John F. Kennedy was inaugurated. He challenged us to put a man on the moon during that decade. It wasn’t long before all of America watched as first Alan Shepard and then John Glenn orbited the earth. Every young man wanted to be an astronaut and quiet obviously so did some young ladies as well.
They talk about TV ratings but there has never been a time when more people were glued to the television than on July 20, 1969 when Neil Armstrong stepped on the surface of the moon and proclaimed it to be a small step for man but one giant step for mankind.
I couldn’t help but think of these events yesterday, as we heard the news that the Columbia had been lost. To be honest I felt a little embarrassed. I don’t think that I knew that the Columbia had been launched. You see, like so many others, I had kind of taken the space program for granted. Oh, I remember the disaster on take off for the scuttle Challenger and I know that we are in the process of build a space station, but I haven’t kept up. As a matter of fact, I don’t remember the last time I heard a young person tell me that they aspired to be an astronaut.
But yesterday, Commander Rick Husband, a 45 year old Air Force Colonel who sang in his church choir, died. William McCool, a Navy Commander, who was born and raised in Lubbock, died. Michael Anderson, 41, who is just one of a handful of African-American Astronauts, died. Kalpana Crawla, a 41 year old woman who was a native of India, died. David Brown, a 41 year old doctor, died. Laurel Clark, a 41 year Navy physician, died. Ilan Ramon, a Colonel in the Israel Air Force, the first astronaut from his country died.
While I am saddened by their deaths, I am more saddened by the fact that I have come to take what they do for granted.
I was reminded yesterday of Paul’s letter to the church at Thessalonica. Paul had to tell them that we don’t know when Christ will come again. He will come like a thief in the night. So it is for us, the Church on the Lake. We don’t know when Christ will come either. We know that everything can be going along just wonderful. Our life can be in order. We might be really enjoying retirement, or have gotten a promotion or pay raise at work. Paul tells us, that disaster can strike at any time and there will be no escape. But Paul must have had an experience similar to the one I had yesterday, because he told his friends at this church, not to worry about Christ coming because they were children of the light. He told them that Christ had great plans for them. But in the middle of his encouragement there is the warning. Don’t fall asleep. Don’t take it for granted. Know that it is easy to take it for granted and know that it is easy of your brothers and sister in Christ to take it for granted. He told them to encourage one another, to build up one another and I suppose that we might read into the scripture, remind one another of how precious life and a life in Jesus Christ is.
How easy it is to take things for granted. Tomorrow, I will celebrate 35 years of marriage to Nancy. (Nancy may not necessarily be celebrating.) How easy it is to take our life mates for granted. How easy it is to see someone younger, someone with more hair, someone who has yet fought the battle of the bulge, and think how much more exciting that might be than the one we live with.