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"ho airon ten hamartian tou kosmou"

posted Dec 4, 2013, 9:34 AM by Amelia Fannin   [ updated Dec 4, 2013, 9:34 AM by in apropos ]
When we say the "Gloria" on Sunday mornings, should we say "you take away the sins of the world" or "you take away the sin of the world"?
 
Interestingly, the Gloria in Rite I says "sins" and in Rite II it says "sin".
 
So which is it?  Both express praise and penitence, so neither misses the mark very seriously.
 
But that passage comes originally from the opening of the Gospel of John, where John the Baptist first sees Jesus and proclaims him the Lamb of God.   John uses the singular for "sin" ('hamartia'), as if the sin of the world were some monolithic thing.
 
Being from Pittsburgh, I tend to view sin like smog.   We have the "plural" part covered - we commit individual acts that pollute our world, physically and spiritually.  But they enter the world like smoke enters air and affect the taste in other people's mouths immediately.
 
The truth is, you breathe whatever air I might pollute.  That's not very fair.   That's just the way it is with smog.
 
Each of us take actions every day that leave our spiritual environment a little brighter or a little murkier.   Those actions directly affect the people dearest to us.  For the sake of everyone we care about, what say we seek this Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world?
 
David Barbrow
Senior Warden
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