As Good Friday coincides this year with Earth Day, churches around the world are reflecting on environmental concerns as they commemorate Christ's Crucifixion, reports ENInews.
Proponents say that planting trees and meditating on ways humanity has wounded the earth can parallel devotions that mark Jesus' sacrifice - though some opponents say that a political message, even a pagan one, is being pushed onto sacred territory.
"This year's Earth Day falls on Good Friday. This is a right and appropriate occasion to remember the cross, which was made out of trees, leads us from bondage to liberation, death to life," said the National Council of Churches in India, which groups 30 Orthodox and Protestant churches.
The NCCI suggested that congregations plant trees in church compounds and include Sunday School children. Congregations were reminded to thank God "for trees and forests, which breathe in our carbon wastage and produce life-giving oxygen for us to live."
Earth Day has been observed on 22 April since 1970 and is considered one of the seminal events in the modern environmental movement; Good Friday is on a different date each year since it moves according to the observance of Easter.
In the US, the Episcopal Church, based in New York, has compiled resources for incorporating earth-care themes into services and celebrations, according to Episcopal News Service.
Mike Schut, the church's economic and environmental affairs officer, said that "on Good Friday ... might we suggest that when earth is degraded, when species go extinct, that another part of God's body experiences yet another sort of crucifixion -- that another way of seeing and experiencing God is diminished."
At the Anglican Church of Canada, the Anglican Journal reported that a task force called Greening Anglican Spaces compiled a Good Friday Earth Day Reflection in which theologian Christopher Lind writes, "in our callous disregard for the needs of all living beings, we have put the Earth upon the cross. [Good Friday] is the day for us to recognise our guilt in perpetuating injustice against our partners in creation and confess it."
[With acknowledgements to ENInews. ENInews, formerly Ecumenical News International, is jointly sponsored by the World Council of Churches, the Lutheran World Federation, the World Communion of Reformed Churches and the Conference of European Churches.]