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Celebrate Earth Day and Good Friday

by Phyllis Strupp

This year, April 22 is Earth Day, a secular event, as well as Good Friday, a high holy day for Christians. How can we celebrate both days in ways that honor the essence of these important holidays?

Suggestion: Try having some fun!

Wait a second. Is fun irreverent on Good Friday, a solemn day for fasting, praying, and mourning the cruel death of Jesus? And is fun also irreverent on Earth Day, as environmental degradation spreads like wildfire?

Fun is appropriate on these holidays as a way of putting aside our fears and showing our trust in God. Fun has no ulterior goal or purpose other than the joy of engaging in it. Fun and play are associated with feeling safe and letting go. Fun and fear do not go together. Fun and trust go together.

A friend of mine volunteers at the nearby Desert Discovery Center. One day I visited him there so he could show me how they educate kids about the Sonoran Desert, where we live. They begin by teaching kids how to be safe in the desert. Once the kids feel safe, they begin to enjoy the desert; and then they love the desert, and want to take care of the desert.

So if we celebrate April 22 in fun ways, we show God that we are not afraid; we feel safe on this earthly home he made for us, regardless of the risks. Maybe we will even learn to love and care for the earth better than we do today. As the disciples trusted God upon the death of Jesus, so must we trust God with the earth’s  future.

And by doing something fun, we show our faith in Jesus’ death and resurrection as the ultimate source of the earth’s salvation, rather than some new and improved technology. Jesus died so that we and the rest of creation might live, while technology is inseparable from commerce and politics.

So here are some ideas to get you started having fun. Ask the nearest three-year old for some additional ideas! Also, “Our Earthly Home,” Session Two of the curriculum “Faith and Nature: The Divine Adventure of Life on Earth,” has additional suggestions and resources for appreciating the earth on any day of the year.

  1. Get dirty – Plant some herbs in pots or a garden at home and enjoy getting your hands dirty, it’s good for your immune system.
  2. Get flashy – Organize a flash mob to sing “This Land is Your Land, This Land is My Land.”
  3. Get going – Find a nearby nature preserve or park and take a walk where your shoes touch the earth rather than pavement. Your brain knows the difference.
  4. Get growing – Plant some herbs in pots or a garden at home and enjoy getting your hands dirty, it’s good for your immune system.
  5. Get native – Go to a farmer’s market and learn about what produce is grown within 100 miles of your home. Prepare a yummy meal with local ingredients.
  6. Get smelly – Spend some time outdoors smelling the spring blooms of different plants in your area. Smelling soothes emotions and boosts the brain.
  7. Get sweet – Buy some local honey and enjoy it as you remember John the Baptist, who prepared the way for Jesus’ ministry and lived on locusts and wild honey. Some find that local honey helps with allergies as it contains local pollen. Perhaps you will feel called to join the growing beekeeping movement!
  8. Get crafty – Make something pretty for Easter out of natural or recycled materials.
  9. Get thankful – Write a thank-you note to God, citing all the reasons you are thankful for the earth and Jesus.
  10. Get ritual – For 100,000 years humans have found renewal through group ritual in the wake of loss and grief. Go to a Good Friday service, lay down all of your fears at the foot of the cross, and pray for the earth’s renewal in Christ.

Phyllis Strupp is the author of Church Publishing’s Faith and Nature curriculum. She is a CREDO faculty member and author of “The Richest of Fare: Seeking Spiritual Security in the Sonoran Desert.”

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