By the Rev. Dr. Ed Hird
My eldest son James and I did a little bit of “male bonding” by taking time to watch the classic Star Trek movie: STAR TREK: GENERATIONS. It was lots of fun to watch as the U.S.S. Enterprise seems to be getting faster and larger all the time.
I can remember watching the original STAR TREK episodes, as a teenager, with good old Captain James Kirk and the irreplacable Mr. Spock. My son James wanted to know if I used to watch the STAR TREK episodes in “black & white”. He finds it hard to imagine that we had colour “back in my day”. James and I both like the future orientation of the episodes: doors opening by voice, food appearing whenever you want it. Maybe it appeals to our lazy side.
Both James and I really enjoyed STAR TREK: GENERATIONS. The highlights of the movie for us were the explosion and then subsequent saving of the distant planet, as well as the remarkable crash-landing of the massive U.S.S. Enterprise.
Why has STAR TREK appealed to so many generations of viewers? We believe that there is more to STAR TREK than just the action. The greatest drawing card is the continual search for something beyond. The STAR TREK motto is: “To Boldly Go Where No Man has Gone Before”. A Deep Cove friend of mine said to me a while back: “People are searching, more than you would imagine”.
To me, STAR TREK is an outer and visible symbol of the inner and invisible searching that is going on in most of our hearts even right now. Most of us wonder from time to time what life is all about. We wonder where we came from. We wonder where we are going to.
In STAR TREK: GENERATIONS., Captains James Kirk and his successor Jean Luc Picard are both blasted into a hi-tech equivalent of heaven, called the Nexus. Nexus in the dictionary means: bond, link, connexion. In the Nexus, all one’s wishes and dreams are fulfilled, and a person is filled with continual overflowing joy, so much so that one never wants to leave. Even death the “great stalker” cannot touch you there, as the concept of time does not apply in the Nexus.
Significantly what both James Kirk and Jean Luc Picard wanted in the Nexus was “home and family”. Both Captains had sacrificed the opportunity to have a family life in order to pursue their careers. And now that they were older and retired, they just had an empty house to come to. Their deepest desire was to come back home, but there was no home to come back to.
There’s something deep within us that wants to be “home” — and especially “home for the holidays.” Much of our annual Christmas celebrations, and particularly carols like “Chestnuts roasting on an open fire”, has to do with recapturing that sense of “home”. But “you can never go home again,” as Carlos Wilton commented recently.
There’s a sense of incompleteness, of open-endedness, about much of our lives. If only we could return to that sense of security we knew as children (or dreamed about, if we were children who lived in foster homes, or for whatever other reason didn’t know a stable home life)! That’s what James Kirk and Jean Luc Picard were searching for.
Jesus himself knew homelessness. He was born homeless — in a manger, in a stable near an inn where there was no room for him. “Foxes have holes, the birds of the air have nests,” he would one day tell his disciples, “but the son of man has nowhere to lay his head.” By the end of the movie, Captain James Kirk reminded me a lot of Jesus Christ. Both gave up their home in Nexus (heaven) in order to lay down their lives to save others.
‘Coming Home’ is the heart of what Star Trek and life itself is really all about. May we come home to the goodness of the homes we once knew — to make amends, to rebuild broken relationships. May we come home to the Lord we once knew, and yearn to know again. May we come home to the church we once knew, and need once again to have as part of our lives. May we come home to the manger — his home, and the home of us all.
The Rev. Dr. Ed Hird, BSW, MDiv, DMin
-author of the award-winning book Battle for the Soul of Canada
-previously published in the Deep Cove Crier
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