Friday, January 13, 2017

The Octave of the Epiphany and Baptism of Our Lord

The Baptism of Christ" by Pietro Perugino, 1483. 


Today is the traditionally the octave day of Epiphany, and the Feast of the Baptism of Our Lord. People commonly ask why Our Lord was baptized, since he was sinless, and, indeed, God. The answer is that it was not to wash away his sins and make him holy, but rather that he might sanctify the water, and make it holy. Thus he began the process of sanctifying the creation, which had been corrupted by Adam's sin, and so water became the means whereby our sins were washed away, and we begin a new life as children of God. 

Today is traditionally also the last day of the Christmas-Epiphany feast.* Tomorrow the liturgy goes back into "ferial," or ordinary, mode.

*The 1662 Book of Common Prayer (like the 1928) celebrates the Octave, but has no provision for celebrating the Baptism today.  The 1979 BCP puts the Baptism on the Sunday after Epiphany, but makes no provision for the Octave.  The full restoration of the Octave with the celebration of Our Lord's Baptism is most desirable, for theological reasons especially .

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