Today has double significance for about a billion people around the world. Not only is today Good Friday, it’s also Earth Day. So let’s talk quickly about the history of both!
Good Friday is the Friday before Easter Sunday and commemorates the day that Jesus Christ died on the cross. Because Holy Week is based off of the lunar calendar, Good Friday can fall on any date between March 20th and April 23rd. As early as the first century, the Christian church began celebrating Fridays as a special day of prayer, but in the fourth century, Good Friday became an importantly distinct holiday. At first called Holy Friday or Great Friday, the term ‘Good Friday’ that we currently use likely has Germanic origins. More liturgical church traditions see the priests dressed in black and the lights shut off in the sanctuary without even a candle lit. If said liturgical church takes communion on Good Friday, it must be blessed on the day before (Maundy Thursday). Sequencing of events follows the timeline of the crucifixion of Christ.
Earth Day has been with us every April 22nd for the past 41 years. The first Earth Day in 1970 spurred 20 million Americans to action in preservation and creation of green technologies, effectively starting the environmental movement. Now, over 1 billion people worldwide will join in the celebration of Earth Day, making it the largest civic observance in the world. The theme for 2011’s Earth Day is A Billion Acts of Green®. The belief behind A Billion Acts of Green® holds that more work to reduce carbon emissions can come from individuals making small commitments to change one small aspect of their lives than from a few select people changing everything about themselves. They aim to have the titular billion acts registered by the 2012 UN Conference on Sustainable Development in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
So what’s so special about them falling on the same day this year?
Good. I’m glad you asked that. Good Friday is the day when we commemorate the death of the son of God. We weep for the agony of his loss of life, while bittersweetly acknowledging that without his brutal passing, we would be lost in an abysmal cycle of failure. Earth Day is a day when we promote good treatment of the earth because this planet is being choked and beaten to death by industries that don’t value any form of life (least of all human). Earth Day is a day when we stop and say ‘no’ to those who would destroy the earth. The earth, this magnificent planet, is itself as innocent as Christ when he was slain on Good Friday. I think this is God giving Christians a hint that the earth is important, and we need to protect it. Jesus died for the salvation of many. Maybe that ‘many’ is supposed to understand that the earth is a precious thing that we need to save. It might not just be coincidence that Good Friday and Earth Day coincide.