30th Anniversary of Challenger Explosion

Categories: Psalm 90,Genesis,Devotional,1 Corinthians

January 28, 2016.

Today, the Washington Bureau Chief of RealClearPolitics, Carl M. Cannon, writes: Thirty years ago today, Ronald Reagan was preparing for his pre-State of the Union luncheon with network anchors — the speech was scheduled that night — when the vice president and the White House national security adviser came into the Oval Office with ashen faces.

“All they could say at the time,” Reagan recalled later, “was that they had received a flash that the space shuttle had exploded.”

ABC News writes: “Thirty years ago today, the nation watched on live television as the Challenger shuttle carrying seven people, including a high school teacher, exploded into a fireball 73 seconds after liftoff.”

That morning I was working down the street from ABC News. Years later, as a pastor and radio host, I recorded for broadcast some thoughts I had that day in Manhattan.   The following is the script I took into the studio to record that day’s A Moment to Celebrate.  It is how I wrote it, odd spacing and all, to be read aloud on the radio — not to be taken in as a written document. Even so, I share with you the radio script I carried into the station:

Hi, I’m Toby Larson, founding pastor of Celebration Church, with A Moment to Celebrate.

Do you ever get a little upset when you hear that humans are descended from Monkeys?

Well, the Bible actually says something much worse.

It says —

“the LORD God formed man (not from monkeys) but from the dust of the ground.”

And Moses writes in Psalm 90:

“You turn men back to dust, saying,  ‘Return to dust, O sons of men.’”

I was working that morning in 1986 at the NBC Network News Desk in New York City at 30 Rockefeller Center, . NBC’s Today Show had stayed on air a little longer to offer live coverage for our west coast update.

We were all watching video feed tracking the Space Shuttle Challenger’s ascent — going vertical at 2 times the speed of sound.

And when it reached 46,000 feet, 72 seconds after liftoff — everything looked fine.

One second later … at 73.124 seconds after liftoff, we saw what the nation saw, white vapor patterns.

And about 13 one-thousandths of a second after that (about 1/10 of 1/10 of a second later), at about 11:40 am seven astronauts — were all turned to dust.

None of us in the NBC newsroom were quite sure what was happening before our eyes. The Shuttle seemed to disappear. When we realized what we were seeing, that the Shuttle had exploded, I remember thinking of these words from Moses:

“You turn men back to dust, saying,  ‘Return to dust, O sons of men.’”

It is hard to grasp how any life can be gone — even in an instant. We see it not only on days like that one high above Kennedy Space Center, not only on that day of tragedy at the World Trade Center but we notice it almost every day when some precious life disappears.

But for Christians, while we believe that dust was our beginning, and that dust will be our end here, we know that dust is not our ultimate final.

The Apostle Paul tells us, that those who are in Christ Jesus, should  think on this good news.

He said, “Listen, I want to tell you a mystery: we will all be changed — in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. The perishable will be clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality.”

Now that’s something to Celebrate!

Author: Toby Larson

Toby Larson leads Celebration International. He is a husband and father of 5. Whether he's teaching, hitting tennis balls, sailing a Hobie, serving in Asia, skiing on water or snow, Toby is passionate about the love of God and the love of life. Read more ...