Nope, in Star Trek, we share a narrative history comprised of “future” events. So, why not celebrate them? Just as Riverside, Iowa, the home of Trekfest, proclaims itself (with Gene Roddenberry’s approval) “The Future Birthplace of Captain James T. Kirk,” so April 5th is officially recognized in the Star Trek world as the day we will make contact with the Vulcans.
For those of you who are wondering, the future day in question is April 5, 2063. (And the good Captain’s birthday is March 22, 2233. Don’t forget to send a card.)
Of course, none of us (well, almost none of us) actually expect this event to take place on the prescribed date–if at all. But, like all things Trek, it’s a fun way to celebrate our love of Star Trek and buy or sell a good bit of swag in the process.
With all this talk of celebrating future events, though, I can’t help but think of the way the followers of Yahweh God have looked forward to the future in the same way. The Jewish people looked forward to the return of Elijah and the coming of the Messiah. Elijah did return (John the Baptist) and the Messiah did come (Jesus). Now, Christians look forward to the return of Christ, when he will restore order to all Creation and bring his kingdom to Earth.
That’s why many Christian traditions celebrate Ascension Day, to remind us of Christ’s promise to return. But the Second Coming is also looked forward to in traditions surrounding both Advent and the current season, Easter. As we prepare to celebrate Jesus’ resurrection, we also look forward to his return. We share with First Contact Day, Kirk’s birthday and the recognition of other “future” events in Star Trek history the expectant hope that the future will be brighter than today and that our best lies ahead of us.
Like Star Trek’s vision of humankind’s future, the fullness of our destiny can be achieved; like its portrayal of an ever-advancing humanity, we can seek to bring the Kingdom of God here and now, not just there and then. However, unlike Star Trek’s calendar of the future, with precise dates for events that will not happen, the return of Christ cannot be known as an exact date, but can be known as a future fact.
No one—not even Jesus—may know the day or the hour, but we know the hope that comes with the consummation of salvation and the restoration of all things in Christ. It will be our Second Contact, but the greatest contact of all.
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