I think I was 8 or 9 years old. I was watching a UHF television station on a black and white television. I was fascinated; this television program reminded me so much of the excitement of watching Apollo moon landings. It was a rerun of Star Trek, and the episode was, "The Corbomite Manuever."
Am I a trekker (or trekkie)? Probably. I'll admit that I have loved all of the Star Trek series and movies, although I have never seen an episode of "Enterprise." I have over 100 Star Trek books and novels. For many years I attributed all of this to my love of science fiction, but upon further reflection I believe my love of Star Trek goes deeper than that.
I think watching Star Trek gives me hope. Hope doesn't come easily to cynics like me.
My parents grew up in the depression. I heard my father say more than once, "If you expect the worst, you'll never be disappointed, and perhaps pleasantly surprised." I suspect I inherited some of that attitude.
Star Trek flew in the face of that. It's a story set in the future, where we survived all of the world wars, conquered poverty, unified governments, and made peace. The acquisition of wealth was replaced by a drive for knowledge, truth, and bettering the human condition. Nearly every episode, book, novel, and movie dealt with moral and ethical dilemmas. Just the fact that the human race made it into the 22nd, 23rd, and 24th centuries gave me hope enough, and that things like racism and poverty had been conquered.
This time of the year, at least for UM pastors, is a time where hope is needed. Pastors and churches wonder who their next preacher is going to be, or where their next church is going to be, if they're going to get to keep the pastor they have or get ready for a new one. Will budgets be met? Will audits come out right? All of these and other matters of minutia often have us wondering if we believe that God is really in charge and are we really doing Kingdom work?
Perhaps I'm in too much of a hurry for things to be made "perfect." It could be that maybe it's not the destination that matters - maybe it's the journey.
May God always confront me with those things that counter my cynicism: a smile, the witness of a child, a blooming flower, a kind word, or a gentle hug. And even a cheesy 1960-ish episode of Star Trek.