1968 was a challenging year in the United States.
The Vietnam war was in full swing, and in the paper and on the television daily. Israel and Jordan were involved in a heated military conflict. Meanwhile back in America 3 teenagers were shot in a civil rights protest in Orangeburg and a Pan Am flight was hijacked out of NYC, and so the age of terror began. Yet the hardest part of 1968 to comprehend was that both Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr. were assassinated.
Truly we were wondering what was happening in our beloved country. We were apprehensive and concerned. Yet something else was happening. In fact there were plenty of good things happening, however, they were bumped off the front page and back into the metro section of the paper.
I only have time to tell you about one. Apollo 8 was the second manned mission to space. This was only 6 years after President Kennedy announced that the United States was going to the moon. Apollo 8 lifted off on December 21 and returned on December 27 so naturally the astronauts celebrated Christmas in space.
After such a tumultuous year, with the American people concerned about tomorrow, who would have thought a prayer could pull us together. Further, such a prayer would need to be offered by Billy Graham or Oral Roberts. Yet a prayer did pull us together, a prayer that was featured in the New York Times to the Chicago Tribune, but it was not a prayer from a religious leader, it wasn’t even a prayer offered from the earth. Far away in space, commander Frank Borman of the Apollo 8 space mission, offered this Christmas prayer as the sun was setting on 1968.
Give us, O God, the vision which can see
Your love in the world in spite of human failure.
Give us the faith to trust
Your goodness in spite of our ignorance and weakness.
Give us the knowledge that we may continue to pray with understanding hearts.
And show us what each one of us can do to set forward the coming of the day of universal peace.