Aardvark Alley

Lutheran Aardvark

Confessional Lutheran theology, hagiography, philosophy, music, culture, sports, education, and whatever else is on the fevered mind of Orycteropus Afer

31 July 2007
  + Joseph of Arimathea +
31 July, New Testament

SpicesSaint Joseph is mentioned in all four Gospels. He come from a small village called Arimathea in the hill country of Judea and was a respected member of the Sanhedrin, the Jewish ruling council in Jerusalem. Scholars presume that Joseph was a man of considerable means, since he owned his own unused tomb in a garden not far from the site of Jesus' crucifixion (Matthew 27:60).

A man waiting expectantly for the kingdom of God, he went to Pontius Pilate after the death of Jesus and asked for Jesus' body (Mark 15:43). Along with Nicodemus, Joseph removed the body and placed it in the tomb (John 19:39). Their public devotion contrasted greatly to the fearfulness of the disciples who abandoned Jesus.

The perfume flask depicted here reminds us of Joseph's hurried work of preparing Christ's body for burial, which would have included rubbing the spices brought by Nicodemus on the body and the wrapping cloths.

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30 July 2007
  + Robert Barnes, Confessor and Martyr +
30 July AD 1540

Robert BarnesRemembered as a disciple of Martin Luther, Robert Barnes is considered to be among the first Lutheran martyrs. Born in 1495, he became the prior of the Augustinian monastery at Cambridge, England. Converted to Lutheran teaching, he shared his insights with many English scholars through writings and personal contacts.

During a time of exile to Germany he became a friend of Luther and later wrote a Latin summary of the main doctrines of the Augsburg Confession titled Sententiae. Upon his return to England, Barnes shared his Lutheran doctrines and views in person with King Henry VIII and initially had a positive reception. In 1529 Barnes was named royal chaplain.

The changing political and ecclesiastical climate in England later claimed him as a victim; he was burned at the stake in Smithfield in 1540. His final confession of faith was published by Luther, who called his friend Barnes "our good, pious table companion and guest of our home, this holy martyr, Saint Robertus."

For a bit more on Barnes, please read the introduction to Lutheran Carnival 26 at A Beggar at the Table.

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29 July 2007
  + Mary, Martha, and Lazarus of Bethany +
29 July, New Testament

Jesus in BethanyMary, Martha, and Lazarus were disciples with whom Jesus had a special bond of love and friendship. The Gospel According to Saint John records that "Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus (11:5)."

On one occasion, Martha welcomed Jesus into their home for a meal. While she did all the work, Mary sat at Jesus' feet listening to his Word and was commended by Jesus for choosing the "good portion, which will not be taken away from her (Luke 10:38-42)."

When their brother Lazarus died, Jesus spoke to Martha this beautiful Gospel promise: "I am the Resurrection and the Life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he life." We note that in this instance, it was Martha who made the wonderful confessions of faith in Christ (John 11:1-44).

Ironically, raising Lazarus from the dead made Jesus' enemies among the Jewish leaders more determined than ever to kill Him (11:45-57).

Six days before Jesus was crucified, Mary anointed His feet with a very expensive fragrant oil and wiped them with her hair, not knowing at the time that she was doing it in preparation for her Lord's burial (John 12:1-8).

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28 July 2007
  + Johann Sebastian Bach, Kantor +
28 July AD 1750

Johann Orycteropus BachJohann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750) is acknowledged as one of the most famous and gifted of all composers past and present in the entire western world. Orphaned at the age of ten, Bach studied with various family members but was mostly self-taught in music.

He began his professional career as conductor, performer, composer, teacher, and organ consultant at age 19 in the town of Arnstadt. He traveled wherever he received good commissions and steady employment, ending up in Leipzig, where the last 27 years of his life found him responsible for all the music in the city's four Lutheran churches.

Acclaimed more in his own time as a superb keyboard artist, the majority of his compositions fell into disuse following his death, which musicologists use to date the end of the Baroque Period and the beginning of the Classical Era. However, his compositional ability was rediscovered, in large part due to the efforts of Felix Mendelssohn. The genius and sheer magnitude of Bach's vocal and instrumental compositions remain overwhelming. Also, whether due to nature or nurture, he was but one of the giants in, perhaps, the most talented musical family of all time.

Christendom especially honors J. S. Bach, a staunch and devoted Lutheran, for his lifelong insistence that his music was written primarily for the liturgical life of the Church, glorifying God and edifying His people. For an overview of the Christological basis of his work and a strong argument that he was among the theological giants of Lutheranism, please read J. S. Bach: Orthodox Lutheran Theologian?.

Today we remember his "heavenly birthday," for it was on 28 July AD 1750 that the Lord translated Mr. Bach to glory.

Soli deo gloria — To God alone the glory! These words appear on most manuscripts of Bach's compositions as testimony to his faith and his idea of music's highest, noblest use.

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25 July 2007
  + Saint James the Elder, Apostle +
25 July, New Testament

Saint JamesJames, son of Zebedee, and his brother John were among Our Lord's twelve disciples. Together with Peter, these two were privileged to behold the Transfiguration (Matthew 17:1; Mark 9:2; Luke 9:28). They witnessed the healing of Peter's mother-in-law (Mark 1:29-31) and the raising of the daughter of Jairus (Mark 5:37; Luke 8:51). Jesus called them aside to watch and pray with Him in the garden of Gethsemane on the night before His death (Matthew 26:37; Mark 14:33).

James and John may have been from a higher social level than the average fisherman. Their father could afford hired servants (Mark 1:20), and John (assuming him to be identical with the "beloved disciple") had connections with the high priest (John 18:15).

Jesus nicknamed the brothers Boanerges — Sons of Thunder — (Mark 3:17), probably commenting upon their headstrong, hot-tempered, and impulsive natures. So they seem to be in two incidents reported in the Gospels. Once, Jesus and the disciples were refused the hospitality of a Samaritan village, and James and John proposed to call down fire from heaven on the offenders (Luke 9:51-56). On another occasion, they asked Jesus for a special place of honor in the Kingdom, and were told that the place of honor is the place of suffering (Matthew 20:20-23; Mark 10:35-41).

Saint JamesIn about AD 42, shortly before Passover (Acts 12:1-2), James was beheaded by order of Herod Agrippa I, grandson of Herod the Great (who tried to kill the infant Jesus; see Matthew 2), nephew of Herod Antipas (who killed John the Baptist — Mark 6:14-29 — and examined Jesus on Good Friday — Luke 23:6-16), and father of Herod Agrippa II (who heard the defense of Paul before Festus — Acts 25:13-26:32). James was first among the Twelve to suffer martyrdom, and the only one whose death is recorded in the New Testament.

James is often called "James Major" (also "the Greater" or "the Elder") to distinguish him from other New Testament people named James. Tradition has it that he made a missionary journey to Spain, and that after his death his body was taken to Spain and buried there at Compostela. His supposed burial place there was a major site of pilgrimage in the Middle Ages, and the Spaniards fighting to drive their Moorish conquerors out of Spain took "Santiago de Compostela!" (Saint James of Compostela) as one of their chief war-cries. (The Spanish form of "James" is Diego or Iago. In most languages, "James" and "Jacob" are identical. Where an English Bible has "James," a Greek Bible has Iakobos.

The sword (the instrument of his death) and the scallop shell are both traditional representations of the apostle.

Lection

Psalm 16 or Psalm 103:19-22
1 Kings 19:9-18
Romans 8:28-39 or Acts 11:27-12:3a
Matthew 20:20-28 or Mark 10:35-45

Collect

Grant, O Lord, that as Saint James the apostle readily followed the calling of Your Son Jesus Christ, we may by Your grace be enabled to forsake all false and passing allurements and follow Him alone; through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

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22 July 2007
  + Saint Mary Magdalene +
22 July, New Testament

Noli me TangereThe Gospels mention Mary of Magdala as one of the women of Galilee who followed Jesus and His disciples. She witnessed His crucifixion and burial, and went to the tomb on Easter Sunday to anoint His body. She was the first recorded witness of the risen Christ and was sent by Him to tell the disciples. Thus, early Christian writings sometimes refer to her as "the apostle to the apostles" (apostle means "one who is sent").

Confusion sometimes abounds as to whether she is the same person as Mary of Bethany (sister of Martha and Lazarus) or the unnamed woman who anointed Jesus's feet (Luke 7:36-48). Add in the statement that Jesus cast seven demons out of her (Luke 8:2) and you get the origins of a tradition that she was a prostitute before she met Jesus.

Following the assumption (possibly quite misguided) that Mary Magdalene truly had been a spectacular sinner whose penitential sorrow was deep and complete — and possibly because John described her as crying at the tomb of Jesus — artists often portray her either as weeping or with red eyes from having wept. This appearance (and a slight corruption in translation) led to the English word "maudlin," meaning "effusively or tearfully sentimental." Magdalen College at Oxford and Magdalene College at Cambridge (note the different spellings) — both pronounced "Maudlin" — derive their names from this Saint Mary.

Since the printing of Dan Brown's book The Da Vinci Code and the subsequent motion picture, ancient, heretical ideas about marriage or a less permanent sexual relationship between Mary and Jesus have gained ground. Some even twist an offhand statement from Martin Luther to buttress this argument. Contrary to these false teachings, please read Was Jesus Married and Luther, Jesus, and Mary Magdalene.

Lection

Psalm 73:23-28
Proverbs 31:10-31
Acts 13:26-31
John 20:1-2, 10-18

Collect

Almighty God, Your Son, Jesus Christ, restored Mary Magdalene to health and called her to be the first witness of His resurrection. Heal us from all our infirmities, and call us to know You in the power of Your Son’s unending life; through the same Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

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21 July 2007
  The Deathly Hallows ... No Spoilers
J. K. Rowling Does Herself Proud

Deathly Hallows Dustcover
I went to Barnes & Noble for the big midnight roll-out of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. I finally got to the front of the line and bought the book around 1:20 a.m. and returned home near 2:15. I read it for a while, falling asleep around four, then got up and worked in some more reading while taking the kids to the optometrist and getting my car serviced. After getting some office-type work done, I took the kids to the pool, swam a bit, and resumed reading. After returning home, I got a bit more done, then sat down to finish the book.

For a while, I thought I might have guessed wrong, but I ended up on the money when imagining which two major characters would die — and was pretty close on why the first was killed. I know now that major is a relative term, since several very important "minor" characters also perished before book's end.

If you've invested time, energy, and care in reading the previous six books, I hope you have time for the tears that will overtake you throughout the seventh. There are plenty of plot twists and "aha" moments, plus a few ugly revelations. However, you'll end up solving the riddle along with the book's cast — and know that the ending is "right" — if you realize that things happen as they should according to Albus Dumbledore's words to Harry: "If there is one thing Voldemort cannot understand, it is love."

So is it Lutheran? Christian? Obviously not — and who would seriously argue otherwise? However, as a complex yet ultimately edifying morality tale, Deathly Hallows, even more than the other Potter books, certainly delivers.

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  The Holy Prophet Ezekiel
21 July, Old Testament

EzekielEzekiel, the son of Buzi, was a priest, called by God to be a prophet to the exiles during the Babylonian captivity (Ezekiel 1:3). In 597 B.C. King Nebuchadnezzar and the Babylonian army brought the king of Judah and thousands of the best citizens of Jerusalem — including Ezekiel — to Babylon (2 Kings 24:8-16).

Ezekiel's priestly background profoundly stamped his prophecy, as the holiness of God and the Temple figure prominently in his messages (for example, Ezekiel 9-10 and 40-48). From 593 B.C. to the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple in 586 B.C., Ezekiel prophesied the inevitability of divine judgment on Jerusalem, on the exiles in Babylon, and on seven nations that surrounded Israel (Ezekiel 1–32). Jerusalem would certainly fall and the exiles would not quickly return — the just consequences of their sins.

Especially in the early part of the book, much of what the Lord "said" to His people was delivered in the form of action prophecies. In these, Ezekiel acted out representations of coming events pertaining to the fall of Judah, the destruction of the temple, and the seeming end of the Davidic line of kings. These action prophecies included the eating of the scroll (3:1-2), being struck with dumbness (3:22-27), sketching of the city of Jerusalem (4:1-3), lying on one side and then the other (4:4-8), eating restricted rations cooked on a fire of dried dung (4:9-17), and shaving his hair and beard with a sword before dividing the hair (5:1-4). Some seem a bit strange at first glance, once we understand their meaning and context, their messages are quite easily understood.

Once word reached Ezekiel that Jerusalem and the temple were destroyed, his message became one of comfort and hope. Through him God promised that his people would experience future restoration, renewal and revival in the coming Messianic kingdom (Ezekiel 33-48).

Much of the strange symbolism of Ezekiel's prophecies was later employed in the Revelation to Saint John. Among these are the visions of the four living creatures as seen in Ezekiel 1 and Revelation 4.

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20 July 2007
  The Holy Prophet Elijah
20 July, Old Testament

Elijah Ascends to HeavenThe prophet Elijah, whose name means, "My God is Yahweh [the Lord]," prophesied in the northern kingdom of Israel, mostly during the reign of Ahab (874 – 853 B.C.).

Ahab, under the influence of his pagan wife Jezebel, had encouraged the worship of Baal throughout his kingdom, even as Jezebel sought to get rid of the worship of Yahweh. Elijah was called by God to denounce this idolatry and to call the people of Israel back to the worship Yahweh as the only true God (as he did in 1 Kings 18:20-40).

Elijah was a rugged and imposing figure, living in the wilderness and dressing in a garment of camel's hair and a leather belt (2 Kings 1:8). He was a prophet mighty in word and deed. The Lord worked many miracles through Elijah, including the raising of the dead (1 Kings 17:17-24) and the effecting of a long drought in Israel (1 Kings 17:1).

At the end of his ministry, he was taken up into heaven as Elisha, his successor, looked on (2 Kings 2:11). Later on, the prophet Malachi proclaimed that Elijah would return before the coming of the Messiah (Malachi 4:5-6), a prophecy that was fulfilled in the prophetic ministry of John the Baptist (see Jesus' words in Matthew 11:1-19).

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17 July 2007
  IC LC ... UC2?
IOW, I See the Lutheran Carnival ... Can You See It, Too?

Ask the Pastor hosts the vacation-themed Lutheran Carnival 54. Included is a brief bio of "unknown" Lutheran August Kavel.

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16 July 2007
  Ruth of Moab
16 July, Old Testament

RuthRuth, the subject of the book bearing her name, is an inspiring example of God's grace. Although she was a Gentile, God made her the great grandmother of King David (Ruth 4:17), and an ancestress of Jesus Himself (Matthew 1:1-17).

A famine in Israel led Elimelech and Naomi of Bethlehem to emigrate to the neighboring nation of Moab with their two sons. The sons married Moabite women, Orpah and Ruth, but after about ten years, Elimelech and his sons died (Ruth 1:1-5).

Naomi then decided to return to Bethlehem and urged her daughters-in-law to return to their families. Orpah listened to Naomi's plea, but Ruth refused, replying with the stirring words: “Where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God” (1:16).

After Ruth arrived in Bethlehem, Boaz, a close relative of Elimelech, agreed to be Ruth's "redeemer" (3:7-13; 4:9-12). He took her as his wife, and Ruth gave birth to Obed, the grandfather of David (4:13-17), thus preserving the Messianic seed. See Boaz, Ruth, and the Genealogy of Jesus at Ask the Pastor for a deeper theological examination of the account of Ruth and Boaz, including its Christological connection.

Ruth's kindness and selfless loyalty toward Naomi — and her faith in Naomi's God — have long endeared her to the faithful and redounded to God's praise for His merciful choice of one so unexpected.

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09 July 2007
  Chili Dogs and Chili Dogs

Hot DogThe rest of the family being scattered across the midwest, I followed a path of minimal resistance in fixing tonight's dinner for the Grand Vark. After I categorically excluded fast food, particularly any arch-related cuisine, he decided that a hot dog with cheddar cheese sounded good, so I put cheese and and all-beef tube steak in a bun and nuked it for the appropriate time. I couldn't convince him to omit ketchup in lieu of mustard, but then he's still a work in progress.

Then I moved to prepare my own supper. A chili dog or two sounded good — but not using the reddish-brown, sodium rich glop in a can that passes for chili on supermarket shelves. No, this would be healthier and hotter. So I coarsely chopped a large jalapeño and did the same with a thick slice of sweet onion. I heated a scant teaspoon of oil in a small non-stick pan, dumped the chopped veggies into it, adding a bit of pre-diced garlic from the jar in the fridge and liberally sprinkling the mix with cumin and chipotle powder.

SauteI let the mix sauté until the onions were just turning translucent, then poured in a couple tablespoons of Lunar Ale from Boulevard Brewery, increased the heat slightly, and laid two dogs atop the mix. For the next few minutes I turned the dogs and lightly stirred the chili mix until the coneys were light brown.

I then set the wieners in cheese-filled, mustard-topped buns, dividing the chili mixture evenly. After nuking them for a few seconds so the cheese was just getting soft, I pulled out my trusty knife and fork and devoured them, washing them down with the remaining Lunar Ale.

It wasn't the healthiest meal my doctor might have recommended, but it certainly surpassed a generic chili dog. As for the flavor, well, as they say, "If you want something done right, do it yourself."

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07 July 2007
  A Quick Blogroll Deletion

Pastor Alex Klages spotted an imposter — as he commented at the last update of the Big Blogroll O' Vark®™©, "Living Stones is not Lutheran anymore. It has been taken over by a Gnostic."

There you have it: If Living Stones is still in your blogroll, please delete it as quickly as you can so no one suspects that this drivel is Lutheran.

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06 July 2007
  The Holy Prophet Isaiah
6 July, Old Testament

IsaiahIsaiah son of Amoz is considered to be the greatest of the writing prophets and is quoted in the New Testament more than any other Old Testament prophet. His name means "Yahweh [the Lord] saves." Isaiah prophesied to the people of Jerusalem and Judah from about 740 B.C. to 700 B.C. and was a contemporary of the prophets Amos, Hosea, and Micah.

Isaiah was a fierce preacher of God's Law, condemning the sin of idolatry. He was also a comforting proclaimer of the Gospel, repeatedly emphasizing the Lord's grace and forgiveness. For this he is sometimes called the "Evangelist of the Old Testament." No prophet more clearly prophesied about the coming Messiah and his saving kingdom. He foretold the Messiah's miraculous birth (Isaiah 7:14; 9:6), his endless reign (2:1–5; 11:1–16), and his public ministry (61:1–3), but most notably his "Suffering Servant" role and atoning death (52:13-53:12).

The apostle John's description of Isaiah, that Isaiah saw Jesus' glory and spoke of Him (John 12:41), is an apt summary of Isaiah's prophetic ministry.

Hymn: Isaiah, Mighty Seer

   Isaiah, mighty seer, in days of old
   The Lord of all in Spirit did behold
   High on a lofty throne, in splendor bright,
   With flowing train that filled the Temple quite.
   Above the throne were stately seraphim,
   Six wings had they, these messengers of Him.
   With twain they veiled their faces, as was meet,
   With twain in reverent awe they hid their feet,
   And with the other twain aloft they soared,
   One to the other called and praised the Lord:
      "Holy is God, the Lord of Sabaoth!
      Holy is God, the Lord of Sabaoth!
      Holy is God, the Lord of Sabaoth!
      Behold, His glory filleth all the earth!"
   The beams and lintels trembled at the cry,
   And clouds of smoke enwrapped the throne on high. (from Isaiah 6:1-4)

Canticle: Isaiah 12

You will say in that day:
   "I will give thanks to you, O Lord,
      for though you were angry with me,
   your anger turned away,
      that you might comfort me.
   Behold, God is my salvation;
      I will trust, and will not be afraid;
   for the Lord God is my strength and my song,
      and he has become my salvation."
   With joy you will draw water
      from the wells of salvation.
And you will say in that day:
   "Give thanks to the Lord,
      call upon his name,
   make known his deeds among the peoples,
      proclaim that his name is exalted.
   Sing praises to the Lord, for he has done gloriously;
      let this be made known in all the earth.
   Shout, and sing for joy, O inhabitant of Zion,
      for great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel."

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03 July 2007
  Smells Like Teen Spirit a Carnival

The current Lutheran Carnival of Blogs stands in all its glory at the home of Barb the Evil Genius. As host, Barb chose to bring a Transylvanian Saxon Lutheran to light as she presented Lutheran Carnival LIII: Johannes Honterus Edition.

The next host is scheduled to be Ask the Pastor. He'll be followed by Prepare Ye. Please check out the call for hosts to see about volunteering your blog for future duty.

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02 July 2007
  Summertime, and the Blogroll Is Growing
Advancing the Cause of the Big Blogroll O' Vark®™©

BBOV by St. CharlesIt's been a month since the last time I updated the BBOV — high time to get some more people introduced. So let's give a nice welcome to the newest enrollees to the Big Blogroll O' Vark®™©. As noted before, we'll then wait and see who comes whining that I forgot his/her new blog, so I can ask, "Did you tell me?"

If you're not sure what to make of the BBOV or wonder about the benefits of being listed and of listing others' blogs, please read the first three links under Aurous Effluence in the sidebar. Those who'd like the Big Blogroll O' Vark®™© can either email me or copy the list from the Alley's source code (click View | Page Source or Control+U in Firefox or View | Source in Internet Explorer).

• NEW KIDS ON THE BLOCK

   ° Confessional Gadfly
   ° Hermenia
   ° Ichabod: The Glory Has Departed
   ° Martin's Mumbles
   ° The Minnesota Lutheran
   ° Muddy Boots
   ° Tear Down the High Places ... a New Reformation
   ° Wendy & Her Lost Boys
   ° The Wolf Pack


• A CHANGE, OF SORTS

   ° Drowning Myself Whenever I Can — Chaz is back!

• NO DELETIONS THIS TIME

   ° Ain't that sweet!

• IN CONCLUSION

For these and all others enrolled in the BBOV, links back are certainly appreciated. And don't forget that all of those listed benefit when you use the entire blogroll. Also, if you'd like to graphically point to the Alley and the Big Blogroll O' Vark®™©, you may use the above design from St. Charles Place or one of these blog buttons:
Each of these buttons measures 80x15 pixels. Should you choose to use one, please link back to either the main Aardvark Alley URL or else to the post What Is the BBOV.

Finally, if you own or know of a Lutheran blog demonstrating a quia confessional subscription and would like me to consider it for inclusion, please leave a comment. And again, for more information about why this stuff benefits confessional Lutheran blogging, morality, and other worthwhile endeavors, please check out the first three links under Aurous Effluence in the sidebar.

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  BBOV: Last Call for Updates

I'm getting ready to update the Big Blogroll O' Vark®™©. I already have a few new blogs bookmarked for addition but would appreciate notification of 1) any new blogs you think I should add; 2) any blogs that are either abandoned or hijacked; and 3) any changes in name or URL to existing enrollees. Please do so fairly quickly as I'd like to get the new list done tonight.

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