Earth Day, Good Friday fall on same day this year
This year Earth Day and the Christian holy day Good Friday happen to fall on the same date. While that may seem a bit incongruous to many Christians, I feel it is entirely appropriate to celebrate April 22 as a day for healing the Earth. Good Friday is the day set aside to remember the crucifixion of Jesus. Christians believe Jesus’ death is the pivotal event in human history, the tipping point at which “everything changed.” Followed by Easter this was the moment when new life, God’s life, poured into our world. This is when humanity’s healing began.
We should never think what Jesus accomplished was only spiritual, affecting our souls but not our bodies or the physical world. The stories of Jesus in the Gospels are often about how he healed the sick as a demonstration of God’s love. And those healings are a sign pointing toward God’s intention to ultimately heal and restore the Earth-to “make all things new.” Orthodox Bishop Kallistis Ware wrote: “Man is not saved from his body but in it; not saved from the world but with it.” To paraphrase, “We are not saved from the Earth, but with it.” Good Friday was a good day for the planet.
Now, the last 2,000 or so years since the death and resurrection of Jesus have not been particularly kind to either humanity or the planet. Life at times is degraded and powerful forces work against the earth and the restoration Jesus initiated, but Jesus’ good work continues. In Kenya there are teams from the organization La Rocha working in the Arabuko-Sokoke Forest planting trees as part of the UN International Year of the Forests. A Rocha is an international Christian organization which engages in scientific research, environmental education and community-based conservation projects. Underlying all they do is a biblical faith in the living God, who made the world, loves it and entrusts it to the care of human society.
The death and resurrection of Jesus, which Christians remember this week, has everything to do with new life breaking into our broken world. Jesus said his life was like a “kernel of wheat planted in the ground which produces many seeds.” That picture of death and life defines what Christians will meditate on during this season.
On Good Friday I will gather with fellow Christians and consider the implications of the Cross. On Saturday it will be a good Earth Day in the Village at Squaw Valley and I will be with my friends who take seriously their role of caring for our planet. Look for us at the Sugar Pine Foundation table with trees to plant. And on Sunday I will celebrate Christ’s resurrection with Christians worldwide and all it implies for us, and our earth!
– Bill O’Connor is a member of The Vineyard Christian Fellowship North Tahoe.