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1 Advent - Luke 21:25-36

What are you afraid of?

What do you worry about?

Many Lutherans would say "talking about my faith" and "what other people think of me," so for now you may keep your answers to yourselves.

What are you afraid of?

What do you worry about?

This Advent, we will share a Thursday night prayer and conversation journey with our neighbors at St. Luke Lutheran in Woodland Hills.

For three weeks, we will examine our lives in the light of a phrase that appears three times in the first two chapters of Luke's gospel, and many other places in Scripture too: Do not be afraid.

It's God's pick up line.

Angels speak it to Zechariah, Mary, and some third shift shepherds about babies, whichare terrifying, exactly as God and God's messengers throughout Scripture open most of their conversations with human beings: Do not be afraid.

Richard Rohr writes: Whenever an angel or God breaks into human life, the first words are

invariably, "Do not be afraid."

Why? Because people have always been afraid of God—and afraid of themselves as a result...

Most people in my experience are still into fearing God and controlling God instead of loving God..

When one party has all the power—which is most peoples' very definition of God—all you can do is fear and try to control.

But maybe you are a lifelong Lutheran, nourished on a healthy diet of grace, so you're not afraid or worried about God, who is either being too gracious with certain other people or asleep on the job of making life go the way you are certain it should.

The long catalog of catastrophes Jesus lists, which reads suspiciously like any recent Tuesday in the LA Times, is more than enough to make people faint with fear and foreboding.

The perils, real and imagined, possible and probable, are overwhelming.

So we turn either to distractions and escapism or to paranoid fretting—or as Jesus names them, dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of this life.

All of them sit heavy on the uneasy heart.

We've worked too long and too hard to earn a sense of control over our lives—paid our dues, paid our bills, put in the time, invested carefully, obsessed over our kids, did what the doctor told us to do, voted correctly, lived responsibly—but the sea and the waves and the bleeding sky are beyond our control.

These doom and gloom end of t