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CHRISTIAN VIEWPOINT: Hope springs eternal that what is broken can mend

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A Quakers for Climate Justice gathering.
A Quakers for Climate Justice gathering.

We’re all familiar with the word ‘apocalypse’, but I’d never before heard the term “apocatastasis” –which means – “the time of restoration of all things”, writes John Dempster.

I was listening to Glasgow-based academic, writer, God-ponderer and mystic, Alastair McIntosh. A Quaker, he described the emphasis on stillness in Quaker worship, as those present reflect silently, listening together to “that of God” present in us all. Only when they feel the Spirit of God has given them something to contribute do they speak.

Alastair also mentioned “Meetings for Clearness” where Quakers with a decision to reach sit together seeking discernment in the same manner. Often what is heard springs from people’s own egos, or their own neediness, but if we learn to acknowledge our fragility and listen deep, we may hear the whisper of God.

This implies that for each individual, each group of people there may be a wise opening of the way to be found in all life’s complexities, and once we have done the research and reading around the choices we have, that may be revealed to us one step at a time through such seeking in the shared inner life.

There is, Alastair suggests, an ideal for our lives and our communities. We are called to be the people that God dreams of, fulfilling the inner divine potential, finding our place as a syllable in the poem God is writing.

READ MORE: JOHN DEMPSTER: God's love helps us all turn pain and ugliness into beauty

Such an approach also opens up a way of being for a world increasingly broken due to climate change. The solutions lies not merely with politics, economics and technology. We will not find the unity to justly implement the necessary changes until as a human race we humble ourselves, seeking “a renewal of humanity”.

It’s a powerful message from this 21st century prophet. All love-based religions seek this alternative way of being, Alastair says. But Jesus didn’t simply point towards the better way. Jesus said: “I am the way”.

Jesus died bearing the violence and hatred, the sinfulness which separates us from one another and from God. As such, Alastair says: “The cross absorbs the violence of the world.” As we accept his invitation to “follow me,” we become a renewed people, transformed and transforming.

But is it true? When the news is full of conflict, it’s hard to see the many, many points of light shining in the darkness. But we are invited to come and find out for ourselves. To seek the God who speaks in stillness. To “taste and see that God is good”.

And apocatastasis? It’s the Christian belief that in the end all that is broken, all creation will be restored, God’s poem made perfect. And this is our hope.

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