Christmas Episode 3: “The Child” (Season 2, Episode 1)
“The Child” is the second episode on this list that began its life as an installment of Star Trek: Phase II. But it’s probably TNG’s strongest candidate for Christmas episode status—again, at least from a Christian point of view.
In the episode, Counselor Troi is found to be with child by apparently miraculous means. The child she carries has no flesh-and-blood father. Troi was “overshadowed,” so to speak, by a powerful alien presence, visualized on screen as a floating point of light. The pregnancy progresses rapidly, and Troi’s child, Ian, grows just as rapidly. He is a toddler and then a young boy within days of his birth.
In the end, we discover Ian is an alien who became Troi’s child for a very specific reason. As Troi says near the episode’s end, after Ian resumes his ethereal form of light and leaves:
"He is a life force entity. When we passed each other in space, he was curious about us, so he decided the best way to learn was to go through the process. To be born, to live as one of us and in that way to understand us. He never meant any harm."
Christians believe the one whose birth Christmas marks was a fully human being who was also fully divine. While we don’t believe God needed to learn about humanity out of curiosity, we do believe God chose “to live as one of us” in Jesus of Nazareth. And—despite what some of us who profess to follow him have “done unto others” in his name in the two thousand years since—Jesus himself never meant (and, we believe, still does not mean) us any harm.
For Christians, the Christmas message is that God is always and eternally God for human beings, not against us. Even if you do not believe that message yourself, may this holiday season bring you some of the hope, peace, love, and joy those who do find in it.