Absurdity is defined in the Oxford Dictionary as the state of being ridiculous or wildly unreasonable. Sometimes, the absurdity of the ridiculous confronts us with laughter.

Many years ago, when our children were still children, our family went to Kings Dominion amusement park. While we were there, Ginny, our daughter, and I wanted to enjoy one of the water rides which was called “Riptide.” To enjoy this ride, you had to climb approximately 5 stories to have the thrill of riding a plastic sled down a steep incline filled with flowing water and be propelled to a deck at the end of the ride. Ginny was 8 years old at the time and I wanted to be sure she made it down so she went first.

In order to ride the “Riptide” you would place the sled in a pool of water, hold onto the handles that were on either side of the sled, and lean forward as an attendant opened a trap that released the water and caused both sled and rider to propel down the slide. Ginny went first and did well as she leaned forward, held onto the handles, and rode her sled to the deck where Beverly and Adam were waiting. Now it was my turn as the attendant released the trap and the sled and I went over the edge. As the sled reached the incline, I made the mistake of leaning backward rather than forward as the sled and I became airborne. When the sled and I landed in the water, I was no longer on top of the sled. The sled was on top of me.

I stood, drenched, and laughing, as I saw my loving family holding their sides in laughter sharing in the joy of that moment. I looked at other people who were laughing as they shared the joy of that moment.

Sometimes, the absurdity of life confronts us with silence.

Frederick Buechner tells of the time he saw a film entitled La Dolce Vita in the theater of a college town. The opening scene of the film shows “a helicopter flying slowly through the sky not very high above the ground. Hanging down from the helicopter in a kind of halter is the life-sized statue of a man dressed in robes with his hands outreached so that he looks like he is flying by himself. This is especially true when all you can see is the statue itself with the rope around it. The helicopter flies over a field where some men are working in tractors. It causes a great deal of excitement as some of them, recognizing the statue is Jesus, wave their hats and shout in Italian, “Hey, its Jesus.” The helicopter continues its journey as it approaches the outskirts of Rome where the helicopter pilots attempt to get the telephone numbers of some young women as they explain they are taking the statue to the Vatican and will be only too happy to return when their mission is completed.

Buechner reports the reaction of the audience in the college town where he saw the film was to laugh at the disagreement of the whole thing. A sacred statue made of stone dangling from the sky and the response of those who encountered it caused the laughter to grow. There is no question about whose expense the laughter is being heard as the great dome of St. Peter’s looms up from below the helicopter. For the first time the camera starts to zoom in on the statue itself with its arms outstretched, until for a moment the screen is almost filled with just the bearded face of Christ. Buechner reports that at that moment there was no laughter at all in the theater because there was something about that face on the screen that caused silence to be heard as they knew for a moment, what the sight of that face meant.

Sometimes, the absurdity of life confronts us with faith and an understanding of life the world cannot comprehend.

It was in the absurdity of faith that Jesus taught his disciples about how he must undergo great suffering and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes and be killed and after three days rise again.

What Jesus taught about the absurdity of the cross was so absurdly ridiculous that Peter could not accept Jesus’ teaching as he took Jesus aside and began to rebuke him as Peter told Jesus, “God forbid, Lord! This shall not happen to you.” Rather than backing down to Peter and submitting to the world’s comprehension of life, Jesus intensified the absurdity of his teaching as he told Peter to “Get behind me, Satan! For you are not setting your mind on divine things but on human things.”

Then, to make his wildly unreasonable teaching even more absurd, Jesus called the crowd with his disciples and said to them, “If any wish to come after me, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel will save it. For what will it profit them to gain the whole world and forfeit their life? Indeed, what can they give in return for their life?”

Fellow disciples of Jesus, we believe in the absurdity of faith in Jesus when we set our minds on the divine things of life that the world cannot comprehend.

We believe in the absurdity of Hebrews 12:2 as we look to Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith, who for the sake of the joy that set before him endured the cross, disregarding its shame.”

In the final analysis, Jesus’ invitation to take up our cross and follow him is an invitation for us to choose what absurdity defines our lives. Shall our lives be defined by the absurd wisdom of the world that seeks to rebuke Jesus or by the absurd wisdom of Jesus that calls us to take up our cross and follow?

What absurdity do you choose?

What Absurdity Do You Choose?

by Pastor Marc Brown
June 18, 2023

Accompanying Scriptures: Hebrews 12:1-3, Mark 8:31-37

Fort Hill United Methodist Church
Order of Worship for June 18, 2023

Scripture Lesson    Hebrews 12: 1-3, Mark 8:31-37

The Good News      “What Absurdity Do You Choose?”

Music                          “This Is My Father’s World” Hymn #144



Closing Music      “God Leads Us Along” arr. Ron Loree

View more Fort Hill United Methodist Church online services.

Follow us: