The words of this hymn are a beautiful prayer...because if ever we needed help accepting each other...it might be today. It is wonderful to talk about loving your neighbor, until you find out that your neighbor votes a different way or goes to that church or does something that is particularly difficult to accept.
Part of the reason why we struggle to accept others, is we don't accept ourselves. Paul Tillich in the 1950 talked about the struggle to accept that we are accepted. Then, we go to church, which tells us that we should do this, volunteer for that, and give this much (usually not enough). So much of life declares that we are not enough, we need to do more. But fortunately for us, the person saying this can sell us this amazing wonderful product that will clearly solve all our problems. I remember as a child seeing endlessly the commercial for the knife that would chop celery, cut through a tin can, and then cut a tomato. First, who exactly does that?!? Who thinks, "Life is pretty good, but to have two different knives for my produce and tin can cutting is a major drag." Second, is this really going to make my life magically better? While we can laugh...we know today it might not be a knife but it is the latest iphone or car or vacation. We are constantly comparing and trying to keep up. Only now we have the extra benefit of the fact that it isn't just our neighbor...but all our friends on Facebook! We stare at pictures of our friends smiling, basking in the sun, then we look at our little life, where I still don't have one of those fancy knives, let alone a trip to some tropical paradise. Now the score is life -2, me - zero!
We are ourselves accepted. Not because of what we do...but because we are formed, fashioned, and loved into being. We are accepted not because of volunteer hours logged or money given...but because at the center and core of God is love/acceptance/care. When we start here with acceptance, rather than some broken narrative that Jesus had to die so we were such a problem to God. More than just some passive acceptance...like I guess I will accept this iphone 8 even though it isn't the 10. Not an acceptance of settling, but a joyful - whole hearted - enthusiastic acceptance! An acceptance that embraces for all we are - beauty and brokenness - as well as what we will become.
That has power.
That will change our lives.
That is more than a trace of grace and a dash of love we need for the living out of these days.