Moon to Mars Mission!

We were there! Well, not really, but we excitedly followed the news source coverage of the Artemis 1 launch from Cape Canaveral, Florida, this week! This launch represents a major step in NASA’s return to the Moon. The Artemis 1 Mission occurred in the early hours of Wednesday morning and was launched toward lunar orbit with the expansive Orion capsule as its payload. This twenty-six-day test run (without astronauts) was propelled to its destination by the most powerful rocket in NASA’s arsenal to-date! The launch exploded from the pad with a whopping force of 9 million pounds of thrust!

A look back to the future!

The Keppler’s made a return visit (our third!) to the Johnson Space Center in Houston, August 2016, when the idea of a Mars mission was beginning to gain traction. During that occasion, we had our picture taken next to a prototype of the bulbous, gum-drop shaped Orion spacecraft. This four-passenger spaceship is being designed to transport astronauts to the Moon and later, to Mars. It is larger than the three-seat capsules used for the Apollo missions. As many of you know, I have been a space enthusiast since my teenage years when the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo missions of the sixties dominated outer space news!

Some may not agree with the vision to return to the moon and then adventure to the far distances of the planet Mars. It sounds farfetched!  In an address on the campus of Rice University, Houston, in September 1962, President John F. Kennedy articulated the vision of “choosing to go the moon” by the end of the decade. This ambitious, if not audacious, goal became a reality in July 1969 when Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin landed on the Moon while  Michael Collins orbited in the Apollo 11 capsule. They accomplished what seemed to be impossible some eight years prior!

Vision, by its very definition, is choosing to imagine and then articulate a preferred future or goal. In the Bible, a vision was frequently cast for the next generation as a blessing. Isaac blessed his son, Jacob, with this lofty vision of the future, “May God give you of heaven’s dew and of earth’s richness… May nations serve you and people bow down to you… May those who… bless you be blessed.” (Genesis 27:28-29). Years later, Jacob blessed Joseph’s sons, Manasseh, and Ephraim, with a similar vision, “May the God who has been my shepherd all my life to this day… may he bless these boys. May they be called by my name… and may they increase greatly upon the earth.” (Genesis 48:15-16).

There is power to inspire, encourage, shape, and transform in bestowing vision and blessings. The youth of our families, who will shortly become our next-generation leaders, need to hear the words, “You do that well! I can see you doing that! We believe in you! Go after your dreams! We love you and are praying for you!”

Are you encouraging others to become all that God designed them to be? As you gather around tables and in family rooms with your loved ones this holiday season, use words that bless others. Be discerning and always ready to articulate a positive vision for the future.

I love that other beatitude, nestled in the book of Acts, that reminds, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” (Acts 20:35). You will be blessed as you give blessings to others! Let’s choose to bless and be a blessing!

Mike Keppler, retired pastor,

active churchman and
doting grandparent.

Links for outer space enthusiasts: J.W. Telescope  Civilian Astronaut  Star Wars


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