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.
On this Baptism of Our Lord Sunday, the collect helps us focus on at least four aspects of this holy day.
The first two are, (1) the act of God Proclaiming Jesus the beloved son and (2) the act of anointing Jesus with the Holy Spirit. These acts certainly give us perspective on the person of Jesus. God’s beloved son, anointed by the Holy Spirit! It helps set the stage for the rest of the story in the Gospel, giving us insider information about who this Jesus is.
The best sermon I ever heard on Baptism Sunday was by an (at the time) lay leader named McCall Calloway (she is currently Field Station Manager at the Quetzal Educational Research Center – QERC). In her excellent sermon, she reminded us that the wonder of the Baptism of Jesus is that when we are baptized, we participate in Jesus’ baptism; Jesus’ baptism becomes a model for our own; what was true for Jesus becomes true for us. That means that our baptism is also of water and Spirit. But even more, it means that God proclaims over every baptized person, “You are my child, my beloved!” and that we are also marked with the Holy Spirit. Our baptism takes on extra significance in light of Jesus’ baptism.
The collect also is a plea for God to (3) Help us keep our covenant and (4) Help us confess Jesus as Lord. These parts of the prayer call to mind our baptismal vows. Baptism marks our entry into the church. Part of that entry consists of making promises (with God’s help!) to faithfully live as Christians and to proclaim Christ as Lord.
We might not regularly remember the vows we made. Perhaps we were very young. Perhaps our baptism was long ago. Perhaps we didn’t pay attention. Whatever the reason, we need to regularly recall our vows.
So, let the collect this week prod us to renew our baptismal vows. Join with me, in renewing our covenant, that we might confess Jesus as Lord.
What do you seek? Renewal of my life in Christ.
In baptism, you died with Christ Jesus to the forces of evil and rose to new life as members of the Body of Christ. Will you now renew the promises made at your baptism, and strive to keep them in the fellowship of this community and the rest of the Church? I will, with God’s help
Will you continue in the Apostles’ teaching and fellowship, in the breaking of bread and in prayer? I will, with God’s help
Will you persevere in resisting evil, and, whenever you fall into sin, repent and return to the Lord? I will, with God’s help
Will you proclaim by word and example the Good News of God in Christ? I will, with God’s help
Will you press on in the faith, practicing the means of grace, seeking full salvation and Christian maturity? I will, with God’s help
Will you seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving your neighbor as yourself? I will, with God’s help
Will you strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being? I will, with God’s help