By Rev. Philip Hoppe
I had heard of it. But I truly did not believe it was anything other than an odd game created by a few web weirdoes. That was until I saw the pictures on one of my youth’s Facebook page. What am I talking about? Planking. For the uninitiated, let me explain.
Well, let’s have Wikipedia explain: “Planking is an activity consisting of lying face down in an unusual or incongruous location. The hands must touch the sides of the body and having a photograph of the participant taken and posted on the internet is an integral part of the game.” Yes, you lay flat in a spot not meant to support such a posture, position your hands at your side and then have a friend grab their smart phone. One upload later, you can declare that you, too, have been planking.
This odd idea has become the latest craze. It turns any boring location into an exciting planking studio. People are planking on everything from playground equipment to street lights to tombstones. They get set, take the picture and then share it with everyone. It has been done all over the world.
And the point of all this? Nothing. There is no real reason offered as to why this game was ever started. Oh, it’s harmless fun (unless you fall) but it is pointless fun. Perhaps Lutheran youth should start a new craze. Forget hands by the side. Plank with your hands extended perpendicular to your body. Then people would at least have something worth considering. If pictures started appearing of people all over the world in the shape of a cross (or more properly a corpus like the body of Christ one would find on a crucifix) maybe people would wonder what that was all about.
Then we could tell them that there is no place in the entire world that has not been redeemed by Christ. Romans 8:19-21 says, “For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God.”
Yes, every last park, bridge, and you-name-it location is part of the creation that has been groaning ever since the Fall into sin in the Garden of Eden. It is part of the world which will be redeemed fully on the last day when all the benefits of Christ’s death and resurrection will be brought to bear on all creation.
Planking with arms extended might be a small way to start a conversation about the God who redeems all things through the extended arms of His Son, Jesus. God redeems not just inanimate objects but also the very animated people we might be talking to about these odd photos. Maybe a conversation started over something as ridiculous as planking could end up being a conversation about the Word made flesh. And if so, then this pointless fad might end up having some redemptive value after all.