The Collect for Proper 27 : The Sunday closest to November 9

O God,
whose blessed Son came into the world
that he might destroy the works of the devil
and make us children of God and heirs of eternal life:
Grant that, having this hope, we may purify ourselves as he is pure;
that, when he comes again with power and great glory,
we may be made like him in his eternal and glorious kingdom;
where he lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
(BCP 236)

Historical introduction:  This Collect was originally composed for the 1662 English BCP for use on the sixth Sunday after the Epiphany.[1]  Because of the scriptural basis of 1 John 3:1-9, the revisers of the 1979 BCP moved this Collect to the third Sunday before Advent (Proper 27) “when the lections begin to focus our attention on the second advent, the time of Christ’s coming again with power and glory.”[2]  

The Preamble, “O God,” doesn’t provide us with much information, but the Acknowledgement is incredibly rich.

The Acknowledgement, “whose blessed Son came into the world that he might destroy the works of the devil and make us children of God and heirs of eternal life,” is a succinct summary of 1 John 3:1-9.  The passage provides two reasons for Jesus Christ’s first coming:  one of destruction of the works of the devil and one of creating new relationships between us and God.  Part of the results of Jesus’ first coming is what we experience through Baptism. 

In our 1979 BCP’s service of Holy Baptism, the one who is to be baptized or those who speak on behalf of the one to be baptized are invited to make three renunciations:

“Do you renounce Satan and all the spiritual forces of wickedness that rebel against God?

Do you renounce the evil powers of this world which corrupt and destroy the creatures of God?

Do you renounce all sinful desires that draw you from the love of God?” (Holy Baptism, BCP 302)

That we are able to make these renunciations is the result of the Son taking on all that it means to be human and then, on our behalf, dying and rising again (Hebrews 2:14, Colossians 2:10-15).  His resurrection and ascension are the demonstration that he has accomplished what he set out to do (1 Timothy 3:16, Acts 2:33).  Foundational to these renunciations is the understanding that all that God has created is good (Genesis 1); our enemy is not flesh and blood but spiritual forces of evil (Ephesians 6:10-18). 

Through the waters of Baptism, “we are reborn by the Holy Spirit” (Holy Baptism, BCP 306) and are made children of God (John 1:12-13), and “receive[d] into the household of God” (Holy Baptism, BCP 308).  As children of God, we are heirs to eternal life (Romans 8:16-17, 1 Peter 1:3-5).

The Petition, “Grant that, having this hope, we may purify ourselves as he is pure,” keeps our eyes on both the hope that lies within us as well as our need for grace because of our present circumstances.  Because of the hope that this great promise brings, we are called to live holy lives, seeking to live according to both the renunciations and the vows of the Baptismal Covenant (BCP 302-5). We need God’s grace to continue to purify ourselves from all those activities and thoughts that are against God’s will (Hebrews 10:19-25, 1 Peter 1:15).  Asking for grace to participate in our purification gently brings in a penitential tone in preparation for Advent three Sundays before the beginning of our present four-Sunday Advent season; in the past (and continuing in the Orthodox Church today), the season of Advent was 40 days long.

The Aspiration, “that, when he comes again with power and great glory, we may be made like him in his eternal and glorious kingdom,” focuses our attention on our great hope—that when Jesus returns, our adoption as God’s children will be completed and that the hope we groan for becomes reality (Romans 8:22, 1 John 3:3).  This new reality will be in Jesus’ eternal kingdom made manifest on earth as it is in heaven, the final answer to the prayer that our Savior Christ has taught us (BCP 363-4). 

The Pleading, “where he lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen,” continues the thought from the last phrase of what I have identified as the Aspiration:  Christ’s eternal and glorious kingdom, where he lives and reigns with the Father and the Holy Spirit, is our final destination—and when that day comes, we will be like him, glorious in resurrection bodies (1 Corinthians 15:42-57).

For your consideration:

Look over the baptismal renunciations and the Litany of Penitence in the Ash Wednesday service (BCP 267-9).  What does it mean for us to purify ourselves?  How does the promise of finally becoming like Jesus when he returns help us to persevere?

O God,
whose blessed Son came into the world
that he might destroy the works of the devil
and make us children of God and heirs of eternal life:
Grant that, having this hope, we may purify ourselves as he is pure;
that, when he comes again with power and great glory,
we may be made like him in his eternal and glorious kingdom;
where he lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

© 2022 Donna Hawk-Reinhard, edited by Kate McCormick


[1] Marion J. Hatchett, Commentary on the American Prayer Book, (New York:  Harper Collins, 1995), 195

[2] Hatchett, 195

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