My Life = Christ’s Broken Bread

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Think of it.  A life completely devoted to the cause of Christ.  Not a divided life, where half is devoted to Christ and half is devoted to self…but completely and utterly surrendered to the cause of Christ.  

For some, dare I say most,  being Christ’s broken bread sounds great on paper.  It even sounds romantic to some degree,  but truly living a broken life before God and man is an extremely daunting task indeed.  

Galatians 2:20 the Apostle Paul tells us; “I have been Crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.  The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and have himself for me.”  

There is a very disturbing image for us here.  The suffering and death of Christ for the world becomes the very image we too take on as we become Christ’s broken bread to the world around us.  It transforms us into what Christ said would happen to His disciples: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.  For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it.  What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Matthew 16:24-26) 

Our borrowed time, our pooled financial resources, our hobbies and precious treasures…they mean nothing if they are not subjected to the filter of Christ on the cross.  Everything will eventually pass away.  Everything will eventually disappear from us.  But one thing will remain: God’s love for us, His people.  

In return, our duty, our purpose for living ought to transform our thoughts, our passions, our perceptions of the stuff we own…all of it in the spectrum of grace and redemption.  

Why do we need to become Christ’s broken bread? 

Because there are countless souls in our world who need salvation!  There are many lives who are still lost in the darkness of sin and certain death!  Without willing servants of Christ giving their all in His services, they will perish!  Some might utter the excuses like “the Holy Spirit can save them”, and rightly so but Christ has sent US to be His ambassadors into this world.  The Holy Spirit is with us in this venture!  Without the willing hands and feet of Christ, who have been broken and humbles before His love and grace, the great commission cannot be fulfilled.  

We are called people.  Set apart for His holy purpose in this world wrought with sin!  People in our own neighborhoods are lost and in need of anyone who is willing to love them and show them this amazing Christ whom we serve!  There are countless souls caught up in addictions of all kinds who are in need of the extension of grace that Christ has given to us.  

Who will be Christ’s broken bread to them?  Will you?  Will I? This isn’t some part-time calling.  It’s full-time within our occupations and our passions!  We are called to be His broken bread to the world, and that starts with our family’s, neighbors, friends and even enemies.  It will not be easy!  There will be days in which we will utterly fail along the way.  Other days when we will be scorned and mocked.  Yet this humbled state of servants of Christ brings upon our lives such a richness of mercy, grace and love!  

-Just a thought.

“My life must be Christ’s broken bread,

My love his outpoured wine,

A cup o’erfilled, a table spread

beneath his name and sign,

that other souls, refreshed and fed,

may share his life through mine.

 (Albert Orsborn SASB 512)  

 

The Blood of Christ (Poem)

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Gentle, like silk between the fingers

fragile like egg shells underfoot

broken and splayed out before us

this is the blood of Christ.

Crimson, the deep reds of fabric

clothing our nakedness,

warming us beneath a violent flood

this is the blood of Christ.

Flowing freely from His side

His hands and feet as well 

beneath a cross of wicked death

the source of life for all.

This is the blood of Christ.

Breaking The Stone Altar

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It started out as a random conversation about our favorite books.  Each person told us what was their all time favorite novel and why.  Some were books we all knew and loved, while others were books somewhat foreign to us.  As the conversation wound back around to the originator, someone hit upon a truth.  We all were in agreement that we really loved the C.S. Lewis books, “The Chronicles of Narnia”.   Someone indicated that they really fell in love with the Narnia world.  Another lauded the characters of Peter, Susan, Edmond and Lucy, giving particular moments in the books that really struck them as ‘wonderful’ or ‘brilliant’ through these characters.  Again we all went around the room and shared specifics of the books that we thought we memorable and epic.

Then, someone said it.  I’m not sure who it was, but once the words were loosed it hung in the air like a lingering fog in the early morning hours.  The lights went on in all of us as we all nodded in agreement.  

The Epiphany: Aslan giving up his life resembled that of what Christ had done for us.  Aslan was sacrificed by the White Witch on a stone altar.

For a moment no one spoke.  Each person recalled the scene.

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Then, it hit me.  Aslan died for all of Narnia (which represented our world).  He willingly laid down his life before the evil White Witch.  Then, Aslan died.  As a kid I remember hearing this story, my father reading it to me, and I wept.  Still a lump forms in my throat even now as I remember it.  Though, the story didn’t end in the death of the mightiest lion.  As a matter of fact while Lucy and Susan wept bitterly over Aslan,  something miraculous and completely unthinkable takes place.  As the sun begins to rise from the darkness of night the stone altar that Aslan’s body is still resting on breaks in half and the great lion is resurrected.

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How awesome is that? 

Like Christ, Aslan dies for all the world.  “While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8) Aslan is killed in the darkness surrounded by every evil thing in the world.  But as soon as the sun crested the horizon that morning, resurrection takes place.

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Jesus, God’s one and only Son arose.  Aslan arose.

When Jesus died an earthquake shook the ground.  The curtain in the temple, which separated the holy of holies, was completely torn from top to bottom.

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Significance: God’s presence was said to dwell in the temple within this sacred space called the ‘Holy of Holies’.  Only High Priests who were clean could enter this place.  It was not accessible to common people.  But when the curtain was torn it signified that God’s presence was accessible to everyone, and that He was not bound by four walls.  He was omnipresent and and omniscient.

The Stone Altar Broke:

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At sun rise, Aslan is resurrected.  He comes back to life and at the same time the stone altar on which he was slain breaks in two.  What could be significant about this?  Could it be that the power and ‘creature made’ order was broken?  Could it be that Aslan couldn’t be bound by evil?  Could it be that Aslan couldn’t be bound by any creature?  Could it be that the old ways were now destroyed while original intent was now restored?

YES TO ALL OF IT!  

Do you see the significance of the breaking altar?

Man’s order of things, man’s fall, man’s rituals are broken.  They are not paramount to the redemption that Christ offers!  Christ came, He died, the curtain was torn, He was dead no longer and God’s original intent for the world was now restored!

The only thing that stands in our way from restoration then is OUR CHOICE.

We can choose to be restored and be made clean through His blood, or we can choose to reject Him.  Either way it boils down to a choice we all have been given and we have to make.  But the really amazing thing is that God has made Himself available to us…everywhere!  Man’s order doesn’t bind God.  Man’s rituals don’t impress Him.

The Stone Altar has been broken for all of us.  Each of us are free to receive His presence…but we have to choose to received Him!  We have been set free, what we do with this freedom and redemption is now up to us…I hope you choose Him!

None of the children knew who Aslan was any more than you do; but the moment the Beaver had spoken these words everyone felt quite different. Perhaps it has sometimes happened to you in a dream that someone says something which you don’t understand but in the dream it feels as if it had some enormous meaning–either a terrifying one which turns the whole dream into a nightmare or else a lovely meaning too lovely to put into words, which makes the dream so beautiful that you remember it all your life and are always wishing you could get into that dream again. It was like that now. At the name of Aslan each one of the children felt something jump in it’s inside. Edmund felt a sensation of mysterious horror. Peter felt suddenly brave and adventurous. Susan felt as if some delicious smell or some delightful strain of music had just floated by her. And Lucy got the feeling you have when you wake up in the morning and realize that it is the beginning of the holidays or the beginning of Summer.” ― C.S. LewisThe Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe

If there’s anyone who can appear before Aslan without their knees knocking, they’re either braver than most, or else just silly.
― C.S. LewisThe Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe

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Not a part of the Holy Eucharist?

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I had an interesting conversation today. It took place in the parking lot on my way to see someone in the hospital. There in the hospital parking lot this gentleman spotted my uniform and inquired if I was a member of The Salvation Army. I indicated I was indeed and he proceeded to tell me that we did great work for people in need…I could almost hear the ‘BUT’ coming a mile away. Finally after a few additional compliments he came to his ‘but’, when he said, “But you guys are not completely a part of God’s family because you don’t have His holy Eucharist inside you.”

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Wow, what do you say to a complete stranger in a parking lot after only a few pleasantries have just been exchanged? There really wasn’t time to delve into it right then and there, I was on a mission of sorts to visit a parishioner. I found it interesting that in a parking lot I was engaged in a theological conversation…I didn’t have the time to engage.

So since I didn’t then, let me tell you what I would have said.

His argument: We (The Salvation Army & most Protestants) Are not completely a part of the body of Christ because we don’t have the holy Eucharist in us.

I couldn’t disagree more with his pompous take on theology! What he essentially struck me as proud and even elitism. Does God desire practice over faith? Often times religious conflict comes from theological misunderstandings or staunch stubborn persuasions. His assertion was that because we do not practice Communion or partake in Eucharist we are not a part of Christ. Hmm…was it the work of bread and wine that spurred the disciples into converting many at the day of Pentecost? Was it bread and wine that brought the Apostle Paul to the knowledge of Christ?

No! In fact I would contend that the Holy Spirit is an element that many high churches miss out on in their practice of Eucharist. Sure the practice can become ritualistic and lose its meaning, but His Holy Spirit is not mentioned enough within their church practices. How can one participate in Communion/Eucharist and completely miss the point of such a ceremony?

Is the practice of such a ceremony an act of Salvation? I would contend again that it is not! In fact, there are still many churches who say that if people do not partake in Eucharist they aren’t saved. How can this be? Did Jesus say ” Do this in remembrance of me to be saved?” No! He simply said, “Do this in remembrance of me”. What is ‘this’ that Jesus refers to? Was it solely the breaking of the bread and drinking of the wine? I do not believe it to be so. When Jesus later prayed to the Father that his disciples be One just has He and the Father were One, I believe there is significance there. Jesus wanted unity, peace amongst his followers. When they were to fellowship over a meal together, whether it was the Passover or even a simple shared meal the remembrance, I believed was conveyed in their meeting, not just the elements of Eucharist.

Secondly what makes the Eucharist holy? What is holy anyway? I’m sure there will be those who may disagree with me and that’s fine but where does Holiness come from? The only true source of Holiness is God himself. Who is able to bless something in order to make it holy then? Man? Are we ever worthy enough to make something holy in and of our own selves? I’m not denying that His Holy Spirit can’t indwell within us and work through us, but to claim that something is always holy just because of practice is foolish.

When we understand the source of Holiness, then how much weight should we then place of ritual? Is Communion in and of itself a source of Salvation? No. Who does provide Salvation and Redemption from our sins? Jesus himself, through His sacrifice…and “If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” (Romans 10:9) Did Paul indicated anything in there about breaking bread and drinking wine to save your soul? Is that how we gain access to ‘the body’? No. Confession, belief and faith are the ingredients, if you will, for our salvation!

So what is Eucharist then?

Don’t get me wrong, I am not condemning its practice here by any means. What I am condemning is the ingrained denominational notion that if one does not practice Eucharist regularly they aren’t a part of the body of Christ. That is simply foolishness and a slant to the scriptures that was never meant to be. Should we participate in Communion in church? I think that there is a time and place for it. I think that some very sacred moments can come from it, but do I think that it ought to be practiced every Sunday? No, and here’s why. It loses significance and symbolism, and instead of something sacred can become monotonous and mundane.

Lastly, to the churches who teach that Eucharist is mandated and lack of practice is detrimental to our salvation…think again. Stop dividing the body of Christ! We become elitist when practice replaces holiness, and judgement is measured out by the hands of man. Salvation belongs to Christ, and those who call upon His name will be saved.

There is no perfect church here on earth, just imperfect people striving to be like Christ. When we allow His indwelling to be evident in the outpouring of our faith then, perhaps we have the authority to speak on such things.

Bury your head in the sand?

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Contrary to the notion that Ostriches burying their heads in the sand…this is simply not true.  When faced with fear, their first instinct is to run.  And since an Ostrich can run at a sustained speed of up to 40 miles an hour/ 65 km their first instinct is probably their best instinct.

So where did this fallacy of buried heads in the sand come from?  Traditionally Ostriches do not make nests like a traditional bird, since they are so big and most trees couldn’t hold them they will bury their eggs in the sand.  From a distance it can appear that an Ostrich is putting its head in the sand when in fact they are simply checking or turning their eggs.

So what they do in fear is actually out of necessity for the survival of their young.  If they didn’t run very fast and distract other predators from their nests, the Ostrich would cease to exist and suffer extinction.

Isn’t it interest that what we thought was cowardice is really a parent protecting their young?  Perhaps there is something to learn from this huge, fast birds…are we protective of our youth today?  Instead of being fearful of the world around us are we protecting our youth by nurturing them and not really caring how it would appear from the outside world?

Our youth needs us!  They need people of God who will instruct them and protect them from the predators in our world.  Perhaps there is something to learn from the Ostrich, perhaps we might even reconsider what it means to bury our heads in the sand.

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Picking up the pieces

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The heart ache of this past week is evident in the state of Oklahoma…children were lost, families ripped apart, sorrow and pain have been an un-welcomed, uninvited guest.  How do we pick up the pieces when life seemingly sweeps away any remnants of normality?  

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Throughout our world people today are facing this very same situation.  It might not present itself in the form of a mile wide twister but rather a car accident, a bout with cancer, a loss of a loved one.  People find themselves at the brink of total despair and their lives in ruin shattered before their very eyes.  

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David knew a thing or two about a shattered life…more than once.  He was in flight for his life, the king wanted him dead, later when he became king he committed adultery, plotted to kill the husband and lost a child in the process… his life was shattered.  In one of his most famous psalms 23 he wrote; “even though I travel through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil.”  

We at times, as human beings, walk through valleys within the shadows of death on all sides.   And because of these valleys,we find the pieces of our lives scattered in all directions.  

Have you been there?  Are you there right now?  Do you fear the evil that lurks in your life right now?  What was David’s hope?  How did he overcome his valleys and collecting the broken pieces of his life?  He knew that he wasn’t alone…the Lord was his shepherd and even in the midst of deep despair and trouble he knew One who could sustain, protect and provide. 

Are you picking up the pieces today?  Know that you aren’t alone and that the good shepherd will walk beside you and give the the strength to make it through this chapter of your life.  

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A Supernatural Hero – Resurrection Power!

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Ironman 3 news article

The superhero zooms in, a little beaten and bruised…but something keeps him going.  With determination in his eyes he faces off with the sinister villain who is intent on destroying anyone in his path.  The hero, moments before, had been beaten and considered vanquished.   Now he stands before the shell shocked villain ready take him down once and for all.

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I have to admit, I’m a sucker for superhero movies!  If one were to look at my movie collection one would find a slew of hero films, in fact it’s probably the biggest collection of all of my movies.  I love a good versus evil story plot!  It evokes in me justice and peace with just a little action and mayhem thrown in.  This past week Ironman 3 debuted at theaters all around the country & world.  It blew the competition away in that it was the top grossing film of the weekend (probably a few more weekends to go too).  What that says to me is that I’m not alone in my love of superhero movies.  There are millions out there who line up, pay for film tickets and see these films with me.  Why?  Why are superhero movies such a popular draw?

Here’s my take – because everyone at heart is looking for a hero!  Everyone wants not just to escape into fantasy, but they want some sort of rescue in their own lives.  We want to see evil vanquished!  We want to see good stand triumphantly over the fallen maniacal villain!  At heart, we long for heroes in our lives today!

The man stands in front of the grave of his good friend who is four days dead.  The dead man’s sisters are not happy with the visiting teacher.  Why hadn’t he come sooner?   He is a healer, he could have done something to save him…but now it’s too late, he’s gone!  But Jesus stands there and tells them to open the tomb.  They must have thought to themselves; ‘Are you kidding me?  Jesus he’s been dead for four days, it’s going to smell horrible in there!’  But Jesus insists and after the tomb is open, reeking of death, Jesus does something astonishing.  He calls out loudly to his now dearly departed good friend.  “Lazarus come out!”  The people gathered there with the sisters must have exchanged confused even worried looks at each other.  “Why is Jesus doing this?”  Some must have wondered, “Haven’t Lazarus’ sisters suffered enough?”  And yet something remarkable and awesomely supernatural takes place…there are shuffling sounds coming from the tomb.

What seem like hours pass by from Jesus’ words to what happens next…but it’s mere moments.  Everyone is clinging to this last ounce of hope as death has been the unwanted house guest for more than four days.  Another moment passes and then there is a sharp intake of breath and then a gasp as the dead darkens the door way of his own grave.  Jesus has done the unthinkable, He has risen Lazarus from the death.  A body in full rigor, decomposing in the tomb has been reanimated.  Where stillness had been claimed within vacant lungs, now breathing and motion has gained access once again.  Lifeless is replaced with life.  Lazarus is no longer dead…he is alive!

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Imagine being one of those witnesses that day?  They experienced something they couldn’t quite explain; they see the unthinkable take place.  A very dead person is brought back to life!  Jesus, God’s one and only son, displaying His very real power over life and death!  Is there any other person who has walked this earth and lived human life done more?  Jesus who is the Lord of life and death?  One who actually has supernatural power?   A true hero for all of humanity?  It is wondrous to think that not only did Jesus heal the sick and give life to the dead, but He also went to the extreme and laid down His life for all of humanity.  When He hung on the cross for the sins of all of us, He went to hell and conquered sin and death!  But the story didn’t end with a heroes sacrifice and finality of a mournful death…NO!  He brought himself back to life!  Jesus even said that He would do this for us: “The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life (for my sheep) –only to take it up again.” (John 10:17 NIV)

Is Jesus your superhero?  Not in some corny or silly way, but in the very real sense that He has displayed His love for you, He has conquered sin and death for us and that He is the only way by which we can find our eternal home in heaven with God.  Jesus wants you to experience this supernatural salvation and deliverance.   He comes to each of us and asks if we will accept Him as our savior.  I have chosen to follow Him, will you?

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John 11:25-26 (NIV)
25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; 26 and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?”

A Spiritual Intervention

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The door opens seemingly by itself, could it be a ghost?  No, Bilbo Baggins reappears after sliding The Ring off of his finger.  He has just shocked all of the Hobbits in the Shire as he vanished from sight at his birthday party.  Now, placing the ring in his pocket for safe keeping he goes to his sitting room to collect his things.   But Gandalf is waiting for him with questions.  Finally Gandalf confronts Bilbo about the ring and, for his own sake, to give up the ring.  Bilbo reacts with aggression, not a part of his normal temperament.  Then he seemingly talks to himself as he strokes the golden ring in his hand; “my precious”…he whispers to it.  Gandalf seems to grow taller as the room darkens as his voice booms in the small hobbit home, “Bilbo Baggins, do not take me for some conjuror of cheap tricks…I am not trying to rob you, I am trying to help you!”

The scene is epic within the story spun by J.R.R. Tolkien, “The Lord of the Rings”.  Gandalf is having an intervention of sorts for Bilbo.  The Ring, can and will impose its will on those who possess it…they may at first believe they control it but soon enough it will control them.  Bilbo Baggins’ mood change is evidence of this as Gandalf tries to reason with him.  He bares his teeth and snarls like an animal…he is possessed by what he possesses within his hand.  Bilbo needs help, he needs someone stronger than himself to find the strength to relinquish that which he is now a slave to.

Isn’t that a great picture of what sin does to us?  We begin by dabbling, believing we are in control.  But we quickly realize that we don’t possess sin, sin possesses us.  We hold it in our hands, in our lives and we lack the strength to relinquish control because we are slaves to it.  Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” (John 8:34-36 NIV) We need a source of freedom.  We need a spiritual intervention, one who has resisted life’s temptations and has paid the price of our redemption: Christ himself!  Jesus, the Son of God, comes to us and says give it to me!  Give me your burdens, your sins, your enslavement.  Without His help we snarl and wail like animals lost within their own entanglements.

I have come that you might have LIFE, and have it abundantly!” -Jesus (John 10:10)

What are you holding onto that you have yet to relinquish to the Lord?  Don’t be a slave to what you possess any longer!  Do not let the trappings of sin keep you from experiencing freedom and abundant life!  When we allow the Lord to take from us our sin and shame, we WILL be free!  So let go of it!  Don’t allow it to poison your life any longer!  You have One who cares and loves you and He wants to give you His strength and support.  Let Him help…the shackles of sin can be released immediately with His strength on your side!

Saturday in the underworld.

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It’s Saturday.  The day after crucifixion, Jesus’ death.  Can you just imagine all of heaven, holding their collective breath?  The Angels’ anxiously awaiting, anticipating what is to come?  Did they know what God had in store for Sunday?  Were they party to the entire plan?  The hosts of heaven gathering at the tomb, gathering unseen among the disciples, who are in hiding.  Imagine what is unseen in the spirit world, as Jesus descends into the deep, setting the captives free and unleashing redemption through the veil.

This Saturday lull before the storm of victory makes us wonder what the metaphysical world looked like on such a day.  What battles were fought.  The might of God unleashed on the fallen ones.  How awesome the power of Christ would have been to behold…it would have probably killed us, who are human, to have witnessed this might.  For even Moses had to cover himself in the sight of God…so too Elijah.

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It’s Saturday, probably the day within the Resurrection story that the unseen and the hosts of Hell were shaken to the core by the Son of God.  This epic battle…Satan standing no chance against his very own Creator.  Death, though the gate by which Christ entered, had no more power on Him than all of the demons of hell…He was not their equal, He was so much more than created…he was Creator vanquishing and unleashing those imprisoned.

There is very little within scripture to tell us of what took place on Saturday, but if Sunday is any indication of what took place, all of the demons along with the father of lies himself must  tremble with fear when they consider what is to come when Christ returns again.

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It’s might be Saturday on this holy week, but resurrection is just around the corner…resurrection and  victory for all who would follow after the Christ.  For all who would identify with the cross will find an eternal hope and a resurrection unlike any other known in the universe.

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