Gleanings from the Collects: 1 Epiphany

Eternal Father, at the baptism of Jesus you revealed him to be your Son, and your Holy Spirit descended upon him like a dove: Grant that we, who are born again by water and the Spirit, may be faithful as your adopted children; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

In the ancient Church the baptism of our Lord was celebrated on the feast of Epiphany. The Eastern Church continues that tradition today. It is also called the Feast of the Theophany because it was at Jesus’ baptism that the Father revealed Jesus to be His Son, as confirmed by the Holy Spirit.

Over time the Western Church separated these two events and so this collect does not appear until the 1979 BCP on the first Sunday after Epiphany in an effort to return to ancient practices. The collect is said to be an adaptation of two collects from the Roman sacramentary.[1]

This brief collect is dense with truth. First it addresses the Father as “Eternal.” It is this attribute of God that makes Him so trustworthy. We who are limited by time and space are blessed to trust the One who is limitless. And so we sing, “Eternal Father strong to save whose arm hath bound the restless wave…”

In this collect we see not only the Holy Trinity named but also the nature of their relationship. The use of the possessive “your Son” and “your Holy Spirit” point to the loving unity of the Trinity.

Interestingly the collect moves from Jesus’ baptism to our own thereby revealing the efficacy of the sacrament. In the sacrament of baptism we are “born again by water and the Spirit” and we are made “your adopted children.” Thus regeneration and adoption reveal that baptism is vastly more than a symbolic act. But neither is it “once and done.” God calls us not only to begin the race but to finish it[2]and so in this collect we also pray to be “faithful as your adopted children.” 

While the thought of being faithful to the end can be daunting, we can have confidence that the LORD in His love has provided all that we need to finish the race. Beyond the already mentioned wonders of regeneration and adoption, He has sent us His Holy Spirit, continually empowers us through Word and Sacrament, and makes us “very members incorporate in the mystical body of all faithful people” and “heirs through hope of thy everlasting kingdom.”[3]The prize for finishing the race is so beyond compare that nothing should prevent us from staying in the race and crossing the finish line. With His grace that is exactly what we will do.


[1]Liturgical book that contains the words and prayers of the celebrant dating back to the 6thcentury. 

[2]I Corinthians 9:24

[3]Holy Communion p83, 1928 BCP

Gleanings from the Collects: 2 Christmas

O God, who wonderfully created, and yet more wonderfully restored, the dignity of human nature: Grant that we may share the divine life of him who humbled himself to share our humanity, your Son Jesus Christ our Lord; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

This beautiful collect first appeared in the American Book of Common Prayer in the 1979 edition. However it is an ancient collect that is taken from the Leonine Sacramentary[1]from among the prayers for Christmas. Along with the Roman Catholic Church today, the Anglican Church in North America has appointed this collect for the 2ndSunday after Christmas.

Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young recorded a popular song called “Woodstock” that contained the lyrics, “We are stardust. We are golden, and we’ve got to get ourselves back to the garden.” It’s a good song but it is not good theology as this collect points out. 

In the garden we were “wonderfully created” but in Christ the dignity of our human nature is “yet more wonderfully restored.” Thus we are not going back to the garden, rather we are going forward to the heavenly Jerusalem[2]. Because of Jesus mankind will go from being keepers of a garden to become a royal priesthood.[3]In the garden mankind knew God as Creator but in Christ we know Him as Father. The epistle appointed for this day proclaims this truth in an astonishing way. “In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself according to the kind intention of His will.”[4]

As unfathomable as it may seem, our adoption through Jesus Christ makes us “heirs of God and joint heirs with Jesus Christ.”[5]While we cannot even imagine all that God has in store for us, we do know that we have a future that far surpasses anything that a return to the garden could offer. Our destiny is not to go backwards but rather to progress from glory to glory.[6]

Like this collect, Leo the Great captured what Christ has done for us through His incarnation. “The Son of God became the Son of Man that the sons of men might become the sons of God.”


[1]The Leonine Sacramentary is a book of prayers attributed to Leo the Great, Bishop of Rome who died 461. It is the oldest surviving liturgical book. 

[2]Hebrews 12:18-24

[3]I Peter 2:9

[4]Ephesians 1:4,5

[5]Romans 8:17

[6]2 Corinthians 3:18