Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Really believing that we are accepted

Today, I'd like to share with you a couple of brief excerpts from a sermon I preached some time ago. I stumbled upon it this morning while looking for something else.

I feel as strongly about this today as I did when I first preached it.

I'd love to hear some response about Tillich's great "acceptance" passage if anyone is so inclined!

Here you go:
“Sometimes… a wave of light breaks into our darkness and it is as if a voice were saying, ‘You are accepted. You are accepted, accepted by that which is greater than you… Do not seek for anything…; do not intend anything. Simply accept the fact that you are accepted.’” 
The great theologian Paul Tillich said that. And as far as I’m concerned nothing else he wrote comes close to the power, the startling, staggering, perfect truth of this famous “acceptance” statement. If I were the rector of a Church I think I would be tempted to repeat this quote to the same people every Sunday for a year, I think it is so important.
Can you accept the fact that you are accepted? It sounds so simple – perhaps too simple. But this acceptance is exactly what Paul is talking about when he says, “if justification comes through the law, then Christ died for nothing.”
What an extraordinary a gift it is to be accepted! How dare we think it is too easy! Surely there is something else we have to do! Do you think Tillich’s statement is too easy? “Accept that you are accepted?” I did. Until I tried it. Anyone who has spent much time in silent meditation knows how difficult it is to be completely aware of our own thoughts and feelings and then to accept them – unconditionally. I cannot sit for five minutes – probably not even one minute – in such a total acceptance. Yes, the way of acceptance is a crucifixion. It hurts. It kills. And what it kills is that which must die if we are ever to say, “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.”
In case you want to know, this part of the sermon was referring to Galatians 2:11-21.


  1. hi Ellie~
    this may be the Heart of All, that we are accepted because we are everything. The God is within us.

  2. Yes, Kara.

    Thank you for articulating this.

  3. For some time now I have discerned in what your write and what you choose to post and what you express of yourself through those things, a peace and sense of having been accepted.

    I suspect that if we ever do come to experience it, we travel different paths in the transition from the wounds of our youth to a sense of being at peace with who we have become. I also suspect that I’ll never quite be able to slip comfortably into the robes of “an acceptance that I am accepted.” The robe that I did slip on some time ago was “a kind of yielding and giving up to the belief that I can only be who I can be and that ‘if there is any grace for anyone’ there will be grace for me. And so, though my youthful fears of being rejected still live within me, I have come to deal with them by not seeking acceptance from that within my life that will not accept me. It is not quite like being at peace with the universe. It’s more like having thrown down my anchor in an estuary where I feel more or less protected from the worst of the storms that may come my way. From that relatively safe haven I tend to reach out from time to time in an attempt to steady the rocking boats of others. Somehow I am of the mind that we are all somehow connected. I am of the mind that the welfare of others is of more consequence to our own lives than we can possibly imagine, even when that consequence is obscured by the fog and the mist that Paul speaks of when he says, “Now we see through a glass dimly.”

  4. "in what you write" It doesn't matter how many times I read over what I write, I always spot an error as soon as I post it and read it once more.

  5. I find it extremely difficult to accept that i am "accepted".

    I am still painfully aware of my shortcomings and habitual tendencies...though I am happy to report that there has been some improvement along those lines.

    Deep, complete and unconditional acceptance is, in itself, a great mystery to me.

    annie c

  6. Ahh, Ellie, you always know just what to post. "Simply accept the fact that you are accepted." I've been trying to just sit and be with this ever since you posted it and it has been interesting. Very little of our American conditioning allows for this--always the striving for perfection, for the eternal climb up the socioeconomic ladder for starters; nothing is ever enough, there is always something.
    Then I began to wonder what happens if I do truly believe this? What then? If I accept that I am accepted should I not in turn accept those around me--the people I live with, my friends, the strangers I encounter? People usually know our intentions without our ever speaking them so how much could this change our little corner of the world? I recently felt I had to sever a 20 plus year friendship. What if we had been able to sit down, and I had been able to look her in the eye and say, "you are accepted" and meant it from the bottom of my soul? But there is the catch, how do I pass it on to someone else when I don't even feel it myself?
    Carolyn L.


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