When I was a preteen, my life suddenly changed as my little world in central Connecticut expanded to new horizons. Why? We went from four television channels coming through a rotary antenna and selected on a dial, to over two dozen arriving from a telephone pole and selected on a box with buttons attached to the tv by a cord. My universe expanded with this “first contact” with cable television.
CAUTION: Nerd Alert Ahead!
Within that “extravagant” new menu were five independent television stations from New York and Boston. These strange non-network alien entities exposed me to “new” shows and movies that I had never seen before. I was introduced to Abbot and Costello, The Little Rascals, Get Smart, and The Avengers (the John Steed/Ema Peel variety, not the Iron Man/Captain America version…go look it up). There was Creature Double Feature, Chiller, and the World Wrestling Federation. We also had a Spanish channel so I could watch roller derby eagerly listening for American product names interspersed among this beautiful musical language that I did not understand. It was a regular smorgasbord of broadcast delights.
But there was one show that stood above the rest! It took me to strange new worlds and introduced me to new life forms and new civilizations. It took me where I had never gone before. It was pretty much love at first
sight…uh…view. To this day I still geek out approximately once a week as Star Trek shows up on the view screens of my house. Please note that I would not consider myself a Trekkie, although I suspect I am on the spectrum.
Public Service Announcement: You might question my priorities when I use the word “love.” Know that my first love is to my LORD (42), followed by my beloved wife, Jenise, and my two very special “adulting” kids, Peter and Nicole. Star Trek sits in a different pleasure category alongside The Moody Blues, the New England Patriots, Mickey Mouse, and my dog (Yoshi) . Honorable mentions go to Mr. Rogers, Dr. Seuss, Bob Ross, the Beastie Boys, and the movie Rudy (yes, I get still get weepy every time he gets carried off the field!).
In seminary, one of the professors toyed with a book idea of Christian themes found in Star Trek: The Next Generation. He actually began working on an outline for a book but, much to my disappointment, he never published. However, his idea birthed in me a dream to someday include Star Trek (the original series) illustrations in sermons.
Now you need to understand that Star Trek was never even remotely intended to be a religious or Christian show. It’s creator, Gene Roddenberry, was considered to be an atheist by many, but according to Kevin Neese he was raised in a Christian family and became disillusioned with religion, not God or faith.
BOOK RECOMMENDATION: The Gospel According to Star Trek: The Original Crew Kevin C. Neese (Wipf and Stock Publications, 2016)
However, I believe that when one of God’s creatures produces a work of art, a song, a movie, piece of pottery, etc, it is an act of sub-creation. Therefore, it is possible to get glimpses of the Creator of the Life, the Universe, and Everything in that work. It is really cool to find 42’s fingerprints on something the producer may not have intended.
Throughout the years, I would revisit the Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock dream, but quickly squelched it because I was too “fraidy-scared” to try it. I thought it might be to out there and border on irreverence, or maybe it was way way too nerdy and would get in the way of people worshiping 42. But in the back of my head I would think, “Perhaps someday… someday…. if I only I had the guts!”
A couple of years ago, I was looking to reverse the trend of lower worship attendance during the summer months, so I was prompted to try something a little more whimsical to inspire people to find it worthwhile to worship 42 even when the weather was beautiful (after all, he created it). So I began trying thematic sermons based on a common thread, but outside the usual fare. In 2017 we went on a visit to the zoo following a map and viewing animals mentioned in the Bible. We spent last summer with in the amazing world of Dr. Seuss. These sermons were received with great enthusiasm, and I knew the I had stumbled onto something when older congregants told me how much they were getting from them. Talk about a Holy Spirit movement!
This past autumn, I dusted off the Star Trek dream. I asked God to forgive me right up front, and then boldly trekked out to plan a series. The result: Faith…The Final Frontier.
I invite you to join us on the journey as we set out “to explore deeper truth; to seek renewed devotion and new ways to serve; to boldly love as no church has loved before.” Let me leave you with two blessings:
First: The LORD bless you and keep you; The LORD make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; The LORD lift up his face upon you and give you shalom. Numbers 6:24-26
Second: Live Long and Prosper.