Today marks two important days on my calendar: Good Friday and Earth Day. Usually these two days don’t fall on the same date on the calendar, but I am finding it fitting – and you may be scratching your head, wondering why.
Each of these days is marked for me by mindfulness, rather than celebration. Unlike most of our holidays, Good Friday marks a day of solemn remembrance and gratitude – even hopefulness, but hope not yet realized in its fullness. It is a day to focus on the part of Redemption’s story that we don’t want to focus on: pain, suffering, and sacrifice. Without these things, the redeeming of souls would not have been possible. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines “Redeem” as a verb that means to buy back; repurchase. Jesus willingly took on all the pain and sin of the whole world as a purchase price for our souls – my soul – on this day, a price we were unable to pay ourselves (Luke 23:26-49). I cannot imagine paying such a price for anything. I am painfully aware of the need for my own redemption – for the helplessness I posses to buy back my own soul. That’s why I stop to remember that it was done for me.
And what does that have to do with Earth Day? The heaviness and holiness of Good Friday should have seemingly nothing to do with a fabricated holiday such as Earth Day.
The original idea behind Earth Day was to educate the public about environmental degradation and encourage action. When we take a good look at environmental problems, the scope and depth of the issues is staggering. They seem to only worsen with time – with scientific data to prove it. In my (very) limited experience, many people feel hopeless and helpless to change anything about the demise of our planet. If they do respond, it is often with polarization and bitterness (or sometimes denial), rather than objectivity and cooperation. The earth appears to be in a downward spiral – and we can only make tiny dents in the problem.
Is this situation not, also, a need for redemption from corruption? For the buying back of what, deep down, we know is right? For something larger than ourselves to step in and purchase life for us? Is our collective situation really cause for despair – or is it cause for hope, although it’s hope not yet realized?
I believe that the two stories are linked – for in Romans 8:21 I see that “creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.” (I’m going to skip the part about labors and birth pangs, since I’m about to have a baby here). The thing that makes me most excited about this thought is that I have the ability to change something – that creation’s redemption is possible because of my redemption.
I am enabled to change the world while waiting in hope. I don’t sit back, waiting for things to get better, but I actively participate in the purchasing of life (Romans 8:18-25). That, for me, is what Good Friday and Earth Day are about.