Today the sacred day Good Friday joins with the secular day Earth Day.
Good Friday is the day we remember and honor the suffering of Christ Jesus and his death upon the crucifix. It is of paramount importance in the Christian calendar. Good Friday along with Easter Sunday are the most well-known days of Holy Week.
Earth Day is celebrated every April 22nd across the globe. It was started in 1970 in the USA to inform the public about ecological concerns. It has become an important day for those involved in the environmental movement.
Nevertheless, these two days, the secular day and the sacred day, may have more in common than we may at first recognize.
Celebrating Redemption (and the Redeemer)
Let us first consider that on Good Friday we worship Christ by remembering that he died on the cross for the salvation of humanity. We worship by reflection on the Stations of the Cross. We read the passion narratives. We recognize the purposes of our Lord’s death. We drink from the cup and eat the bread of the Lord’s Supper – the Eucharistic meal of the Great Thanksgiving.
However, we do not worship the cross and we do not celebrate suffering for the sake of suffering. We worship the person of Christ – Christ the Redeemer.
Celebrating Creation (and the Creator)
On Earth Day people across the world take time to plant a tree, a garden, or clean a sea coast or a highway. Some environmental groups use the day to promote concerns about endangered animals, suffering wetlands, pollution and the like.
However, as Christians we do not worship the earth. We do not celebrate a better planet for the sake of a healthier, cleaner planet. We worship the person of Christ – Christ the Creator.
Secondly, humanity’s salvation and the “salvation” of our planet are intimately tied together. Romans 8:18-23 suggests that creation’s future is linked with humanity’s future. It seems to me that verse 20 suggests that creation was cursed as a result of the fall of man (Genesis 3). From that point on humanity and the rest of God’s creation have been linked together by the curse of sin.
We also read in this passage that creation longs and groans for the revealing of the sons of God. This will take place at the end of the age. Our own groaning (v. 23) will be relieved at this same time. We wait with an eschatological expectation of God’s full redemption of all of creation – to bring us back to the garden (Revelation 22:2).
Scholar Richard Bauckham writes in reference to Romans 8:
The liberation of creation is to happen at the end of history, when Christian believers will attain their full salvation in the glory of the resurrection (vv. 21 and 23). Since creation’s bondage is due to human sin, its liberation must await the cessation of human evil at the end (The Bible and Ecology, 99).
In other words, Christians and God’s creation (the earth) are eagerly waiting for the fulfillment of the Kingdom of God at the end of the age.
So what does this mean for us now?
First, we might want to remember when we reflect on the crucifixion of our Lord that He died not only for you and me and others, but also for His creation. God’s goal is to lift the curse of sin and the consequences that it brings off of humanity and the whole earth.
Secondly, we might want to recognize that although the earth’s “salvation” won’t happen until the future eschaton, we should still manage the earth well and repair the damage that the curse of sin has brought upon it. Likewise, Christians ought to manage themselves well and allow the Holy Spirit to transform our personhood, even though the full affects of salvation will not be realized until our bodily resurrection.
Finally, when we consider both this sacred day and this secular day, we should worship Christ the Redeemer and Christ the Creator. These two days are not usually on the same day. Today, both “just happen” to be together.