Anglicans Online banner
Independent On the web since 1994 More than 200 000 readers More than 10 000 links Updated every Sunday

New This Week
Everything new is here.


Start here
Anglicans believe . . .
The Prayer Book
The Bible

News flash: a summary of the top headlines
News Centre
News archive

Over to you . . .
Add a site to AO
Tell us what you think
Link to AO

Resources A to Z, including
 Book of Common Prayer
 and much more ...

World Anglicanism
Anglican Communion
In full communion
Not in the Communion

Dioceses and Parishes
New Zealand

Vacancies Centre
Job openings worldwide

Support Us
Sip from an AO mug,
wear our t-shirt, or ...

Make a donation.

Our contributors.

Anglicans Online
Back issues
Awards and Publicity
Beginnings, AO today

AO search button


Space shuttle disintegratingHallo again to all.

For us, part of the joy of the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church is its linkage to the past, to the communion of saints and the lives that they led. We enjoy reading ancient prayers and songs, and noting how similar are our feelings and fears today to those of our ancestors hundreds or thousands of years ago. And almost no aspect of modern life is as ancient and ageless as sailing on the sea. Discussing the recent tragedy with the American space shuttle, The Christian Science Monitor said 'astronauts have been America's Christopher Columbuses - sailors of the night sky'.

So true. In reading of the tragic loss of the spacecraft and its crew, we felt drawn into the centuries-old story of men and women trusting technology to overcome what would otherwise be certain death. In the USA prayer book of 1789, there is a section 'Prayer to be used at sea', which includes:

O MOST glorious and gracious Lord God, who dwellest in heaven, but beholdest all things below; Look down, we beseech thee, and hear us, calling out of the depth of misery, and out of the jaws of this death, which is now ready to swallow us up: Save, Lord, or else we perish. The living, the living shall praise thee. O send thy word of command to rebuke the raging winds and the roaring sea; that we, being delivered from this distress, may live to serve thee, and to glorify thy Name all the days of our life. Hear, Lord, and save us, for the infinite merits of our blessed Saviour, thy Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

We cannot imagine that anyone could embark on such a perilous journey, by sea or space, without faith. We presume that in an earlier time, it was not faith in the skill of the boat builder or in the manufacturer of the nails holding the ship together, but faith in the God who oversaw it all. Perhaps the astronauts had faith in Ground Control or in the engineers at the space centre, but we've met a good number of space workers on the ground, in Houston and Cape Canaveral and Moffett Field, and we have seen that they mostly do have faith in God, rather than merely in themselves.

Cynics have written that faith in God has no place in the modern world because science has superseded religion. We wrote last year about faith and fear and safety; today we are thinking about it again, though here we are looking less at fear of random death and more at the fear involved in taking risks. Every seafarer who stepped on a ship a thousand years ago did so with the faith that God would provide protection. And prayer never hurt. We know that we, ourselves, could never board a space shuttle without absolute faith in a living God, and we wish that we'd remembered to wish this crew 'Godspeed' a fortnight ago.

See you next week.

Brian Reid's signature
Cynthia McFarland
Brian Reid

Last updated: 2 February 2003

This web site is independent. It is not official in any way. Our editorial staff is private and unaffiliated. Please contact about information on this page. ©2003 Society of Archbishop Justus