We did a Micah Study at Worcester Fellowship. Yesterday we were looking at chapter one. Micah is a prophet writing to his community about hope and about doom. We asked about each chapter: is this hope or is it doom? Chapter one? Clearly DOOM. Wow, Micah is predicting suffering and loss for everyone. What a bright and cheery advent message!
We went over some of the setting and noted how similar those times were to today: that the rich have the money and the power, their sense of satisfaction and righteousness. That the poor have, well, the poor have nothing. They have dissatisfaction and hopelessness. The poor have peace, and religion, and family, and friends, but the rich don't seem to notice that the poor have no way to get ahead, no work, no supports, not enough food, not enough housing. Micah's message is addressed to those in power: your doom is coming. For the wealthy: doom is coming; for the poor: doom is now.
But Bible study at Worcester Fellowship isn't really about tussling with the setting or about understanding the goals of a prophet, and it really isn't about the predicted destruction of Jerusalem. We explored the question: "have you ever felt a sense of doom?"
First we talked about Korea and nuclear war and terrorists. The middle east, Ukraine, Sudan. Brian wants to go into the Navy and he's concerned the Navy will be involved in one of these wars . Mark lives with the challenges of paranoia and has to check every floor of his building every evening before he can sleep because of all the news about the threat of terrorists. He describes how media reinforces his fears, even as he knows that his building in Worcester isn't a likely target. Alison worries about her son who in Basic Training. Estella shared about the violence in her home after father returned from the war Korea.
Sandy mentioned how hard it is to have the nights getting longer and longer. Alison described her struggle with depression, Ron how his regular seizures are stealing more and more of his brain. Juan said that his biggest sense of doom comes from his addictions.
There was instant agreement with the doom of addiction and many examples. How you try so hard for days and days and then one day you are late for the food pantry so you don't have food and you get a few bucks and you have another drink. How you try to stay in the house to stay away from others who are using and your mind gets more and more convoluted as you get more and more isolated and you just want to die. How you go to meetings and church and bible study and see your social worker and then your therapist, but then there it is, 2 am and you are awake and you can't remember any of the reasons why you were trying to get sober. And how a long night is followed by waking up in the morning afraid that you won't make it another day.
Brian asked "what is that saying... you know about if you do and if you don't?"
Alison replied quickly "doomed if you do, doomed if you don't."
Mark was sure that wasn't right "No, its damned if you do, damned if you don't. Excuse me pastor, sorry."
After a moment of silence Estella summarized the study. "I think Micah would say Doomed if you do, doomed if you don't."
(Originally from Advent, 2010, but edited to fit today.)
For my organized thoughts, see my book Five Loaves, Two Fish, Twelve Volunteers: Developing Relational Food Ministries. In this spot are thoughts that appear for a moment--about food programs, mission, church, building community, writing, and whatever else pops into my head.