When I first saw the new Star Trek, I was a bit saddened. I was sad because the Spock and Kirk I knew from my childhood have gone away, and something new was emerging.
I grew up watching William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy race through space, in the television re-runs of the original series, or in the movies of the 1980s and 1990s. I remember the excitement of The Wrath of Khan and those lovable whales from The Voyage Home. But after I finished watching J.J. Abrams' new Star Trek, I realized I would need to put that behind me.
Even though the characters are the same in this new movie, things have changed. The story begins immediately with a new change: a Romulan ship was forced from the late 24th Century to the mid 23rd Century through a time-travel wormhole, altering the events of the past and thus creating an alternate timeline. This not only means the lives of our characters are forever changed, but it means that moviegoers' expectations have to be changed as well.
In this new timeline, James T. Kirk (Chris Pine) takes a different route to Starfleet, and his relationship with Spock (Zachary Quinto) begins more rocky than we had previously known. This also means that nothing can be assumed (and even characters we know and love from Star Trek's previous television shows and movies could possibly die in this new timeline).
In our own lives, we live with uncertainty. Even though some might imagine that "history repeats itself," it really doesn't. Every new generation brings its nuances and unique vision to the future that lies before them. It can be tempting to assume we can predict what lies ahead of us based on the past, and to a certain degree that is true, but you just never know.
And when things go differently than we had imagined them, we must pray that we can accept those changes and live in that new reality. Unlike Spock and the Romulans from this film, we don't have the ability to go back in time and change things. Instead, we have one shot. Life rarely has "mulligans," so we must do our best to make the best of our situation.
In my work with young adults, I encounter a number of people who dismiss or look down upon those who are younger than they. Or they label younger people as "not there yet." For instance, people will criticize college students because they aren't yet in the working world yet, or see single people as not married yet, or young couples as not parents yet, or young parents as not mature yet, and so forth.
People looked at Kirk, Spock, Scotty, and Uhura as "not there yet." But they were. Because, as the Star Trek movie poster beckons, "the future begins now." Something new is happening.
In John's vision in the Book of Revelation, the author "saw a new heaven and a new earth. The former heaven and the former earth had passed away..." (cf. Rev. 21:1). The future had arrived, and God proudly proclaimed "Behold I make all things new." (Rev. 21:5).
We can either stay mired in the past, thinking nostalgically about the way things were - in our lives, in our work, in our families, in our church, or in our world. Or we can follow our Lord, who makes all things new, and embrace the future, uncertain and unsafe as it might be.
In a minor way, I had to adjust my thinking about Kirk and Spock and the Enterprise. Sure, I would always have those wonderful memories of watching those old re-runs or movies, but a new generation has taken command of the bridge, taking me to tomorrow. So I must move on and boldly go where I have never gone before.