The Collect for The First Sunday after The Epiphany: The Baptism of our Lord

Father in heaven,
who at the baptism of Jesus in the River Jordan proclaimed him your beloved Son
and anointed him with the Holy Spirit:
Grant that all who are baptized into his Name may keep the covenant they have made,
and boldly confess him as Lord and Savior;
who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen.
(BCP 214)

Marion Hatchett reports that this Collect is new to our current BCP and “reflects the restoration of Epiphany as the celebration of the baptism of our Lord and as a baptismal season.”  Theologically, this Collect stresses Jesus’ baptism with water and the Holy Spirit and connects his baptism with our own:  our initiation into the Baptismal Covenant is modeled after his baptism. This Collect was drafted by the Rev. Dr. Charles M. Guilbert, who used Collects from the Roman sacramentary for the First Sunday after the Epiphany as his basis (Hatchett, 171).

In the Preamble, “Father in heaven,” we claim the familial relationship with God that God has offered to us (see 1 John 3:1-2).  This naming of God as our Father is how we address God in the prayer that Jesus taught us (Matthew 6:9-13) that we pray weekly as part of the Sunday Eucharist (BCP 364) and daily either in each of the hours of the Daily Office (BCP 97, 106, 121, 132-3) or as part of the Daily Devotions for Individuals and Families (BCP 136-140) and.  “Heaven” has multiple meanings in biblical texts—while “heaven” can refer to the sky or outer space, it can also refer to where God the Father dwells.  With this latter sense of “heaven,” heaven and earth can be understood as overlapping realms of being; wherever we experience God’s presence, we are experiencing heaven.

The Acknowledgement, “who at the baptism of Jesus in the River Jordan proclaimed him your beloved Son and anointed him with the Holy Spirit,” is a summary of Jesus’ experience of his baptism that we hear in the Gospel reading for this Sunday (Luke 3:21-22, the reading for Year C; in Year A we hear Matthew 3:13-17 and in Year B we hear Mark 1:4-11).  The focus is Jesus’ experience of having his relationship with God the Father stated audibly and his relationship with God the Holy Spirit being received as a physical anointing.  The baptism of Jesus not only reveals to us who Jesus is, but also reveals the Trinity.

The Petition, “Grant that all who are baptized into his Name may keep the covenant they have made, and boldly confess him as Lord and Savior,” moves from our Lord Jesus’ baptism to our imitation of his action.  Baptism is something that we receive and that we live into.  In our baptism, we not only imitate Jesus’ baptism, but we enter into his life, death, and resurrection (Romans 6:3-6) and, through our baptism, we become children of God who are offered the opportunity to participate in the divine life (see The Collect for the Second Sunday after Christmas Day).  To keep the covenant that we have made, which we articulate as our Baptismal Covenant (BCP 304-8), we need God’s grace—we need to be empowered by this divine life that Jesus shares with us through the work of the Holy Spirit.  This covenant calls us to live and speak in such a way that others are able to experience the Good News of God in Jesus Christ and to know, through our bold statement about Jesus as our Lord and Savior, that they have experienced this Good News.

In the Pleading, “who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen,” we affirm what we have heard in the Gospel readings for this Sunday—that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are one glorious God in three Persons who live and reign as one.

How did you share the Good News of God in Jesus Christ before the pandemic?  How did we boldly confess Jesus as Lord and Savior as a parish prior to the pandemic?

During these strange days of the pandemic, how are you living into the Baptismal Covenant?  What has changed and what has stayed the same?  How are we, as a parish, living into the Baptismal Covenant?  What has stayed the same, what has changed, and how might we change how we live into the Baptismal Covenant so that we can reach those around us with the Good News of God in Jesus Christ?

Father in heaven,
who at the baptism of Jesus in the River Jordan proclaimed him your beloved Son and anointed him with the Holy Spirit:
Grant that all who are baptized into his Name may keep the covenant they have made, and boldly confess him as Lord and Savior;
who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen.

© 2022 Donna R. Hawk-Reinhard, edited by Kate McCormick
The citations from Marion Hatchett are from his Commentary on the American Prayer Book, HarperOne, 1995
Quotations and page references to The Book of Common Prayer (BCP) are from the 1979 standard edition. 
Scripture quotations are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Scroll to Top