Archive for the ‘Acts 13’ Tag

Devotion for the Seventh Sunday of Easter, Year C (Humes)   1 comment

Above:  Saint Paul and Saint Barnabas at Lystra, by Alessandro Salucci

Image in the Public Domain

Building Up Each Other in Christ

MAY 16, 2021


The Collect:

Blessed Lord, who caused all holy Scriptures to be written for our learning:

Grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them,

that we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of life,

which you have given us in our Savior Jesus Christ,  who lives and reigns

with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

The Book of Common Prayer (1979), page 236


The Assigned Readings:

Acts 13:14-16, 26-48

Psalm 114

1 Thessalonians 5:12-28

Luke 15:21-37


We need to be careful not to read the text from Acts 123 in an anti-Semitic manner.

  1. To do so is sinful.
  2. Sts. Paul and Barnabas were Jewish.
  3. Many of their supporters were Jewish.
  4. “The Jews” refers to hostile Jews.

Also, Psalm 114 fits well with St. Paul’s full address, portions of which the lection from Acts 13 omits.

The Lukan apocalypse is one of the Synoptic apocalypses in the context of Holy Week.  The wrath of God will come and the new world order of God will replace the current world order.  All of this is solely in the divine domain.

In the meantime, we have a mandate to build up each other and to leave the world better than we found it.  We can start by never repaying evil with evil, and by refraining from every kind of evil.

Writing those words is easy, but living according to them can be difficult.  Even when we seek to live according to the Golden Rule, we may inadvertently commit evil.  Weakness and ignorance are formidable foes.

May we start by seeking to live according to the Golden Rule and by trusting in God to guide us in understanding what that means (in detail) in various circumstances.  The Golden Rule is a timeless principle, but the proper application of timeless principles varies according to context, including who, when, and where one is.












Devotion for the Sixth Sunday of Easter, Year C (Humes)   2 comments

Above:  The Return of the Prodigal Son, by James Tissot

Image in the Public Domain

The Scandal of Grace VIII

MAY 9, 2021


The Collect:

Blessed Lord, who caused all holy Scriptures to be written for our learning:

Grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them,

that we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of life,

which you have given us in our Savior Jesus Christ,  who lives and reigns

with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

The Book of Common Prayer (1979), page 236


The Assigned Readings:

Acts 13:1-12

Psalm 67

1 Thessalonians 4:13-5:11

Luke 15:11-32


Therefore, encourage one another and build one another up, as indeed you do.

–1 Thessalonians 5:11, The New American Bible–Revised Edition (2011)


That verse is a fitting counterpoint to the attitude of the elder brother in the story traditionally called the Parable of the Prodigal Son.  Or is it the Parable of the Resentful Older Brother?  Or is it the Parable of the Lost Son?  If so, which son was lost?  Or is the Parable of the Loving Father?  The text is too rich for one label to describe it adequately.  Psalm 67 begins, in the translation of Mitchell J. Dahood, S.J.:

May God have pity on us and bless us;

may he cause his face to shine,

may he come to us.

That fits well with the parable.  On the other hand, it does not mesh with the blinding of Elymar the sorcerer in Acts 13.

Back to the father with two sons, a formula for trouble since Cain and Abel…

Which son was really lost?  The younger one–the wastrel–came to his senses and acted accordingly.  The resentful, dutiful older son–a character easy with whom to identify–played by the rules and expected commensurate rewards.  Yet could he not have rejoiced that his brother had returned?  Perhaps the older brother was the lost one.

The parable ends with unresolved tension.  The ambiguous conclusion invites us to ask ourselves what we would do in the place of the older brother.

Grace is scandalous.  It does not seem fair, by our standards, much of the time.  It violates our definition of fairness frequently.  Grace may not be fair, but it is just.











Devotion for Easter Sunday (Ackerman)   1 comment

Books and a Globe, from the Library, St. Gregory the Great Episcopal Church, Athens, Georgia, June 9, 2017

Photograph by Kenneth Randolph Taylor

God’s Work, Our Task

APRIL 9, 2023


The Collect:

Blessed Lord, who caused all holy Scriptures to be written for our learning:

Grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them,

that we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of life,

which you have given us in our Savior Jesus Christ,  who lives and reigns

with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

The Book of Common Prayer (1979), page 236


The Assigned Readings:

2 Kings 4:18-20, 32-37

Isaiah 52:1-2

Acts 13:26-31

Mark 16:9-20


In the lessons for this day, we read of different forms of death and resurrection to life.

The Shunammite widow’s son was essential to her well-being in that patriarchal society, in which widows and orphans were particularly vulnerable.  The revivification of the son by God via the prophet Elisha was for the benefit of both mother and son.

The death of the Kingdom of Judah and the ensuing Babylonian Exile was traumatic.  The exile did end, however, albeit without the restoration of the kingdom.  Indeed, the realities of life after the conclusion of the exile did not march the promises recorded in scripture.  The Jews lived under foreign rule in a poor province, after all.  Eventually Judea experienced independence for about a century, but then the Romans came.  The Jews of Palestine lived in exile at home.

The resurrection of Jesus was a game changer.  Without it we Christians would have a dead Jesus and would be the most pitiable people anywhere (1 Corinthians 15:19).  Yet Jesus did not remain on the Earth for long afterward.  No, he gave his followers a mandate.

The work of God is properly our task as human beings.  We have orders to love sacrificially, build each other up, and care for each other’s needs.  We have commands to share the good news of the Incarnation via Jesus and of his saving life, death, and resurrection.  I do not pretend to grasp the full meaning of Jesus being the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6), but I affirm that the birth, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus play crucial parts in that truth.

May we, by grace, being glory to God, draw people to Christ, and strengthen others in their faith.







Devotion for Monday and Tuesday After the Fifth Sunday of Easter, Year C (ELCA Daily Lectionary)   1 comment

St. Barnabas

Above:  St. Barnabas

Image in the Public Domain


MAY 16 and 17, 2022


The Collect:

O Lord God, you teach us that without love, our actions gain nothing.

Pour into our hearts your most excellent gift of love, that,

made alive by your Spirit, we may know goodness and peace,

through your Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord,

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 34


The Assigned Readings:

1 Samuel 20:1-23, 35-42 (Monday)

2 Samuel 1:4-27 (Tuesday)

Psalm 133 (Both Days)

Acts 11:19-26 (Monday)

Acts 11:27-30 (Tuesday)


Oh, how good and pleasant it is

when brethren live together in unity!

It is like fine oil upon the head

that runs down upon the beard,

Upon the beard of Aaron,

and runs down upon the collar of his robe.

It is like the dew of Hermon

that falls upon the hills of Zion.

For there the LORD has ordained the blessing,

life for evermore.

–Psalm 133, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)


Friendship is a form of such unity.

Jonathan remained David’s friend, even to the detriment of his (Jonathan’s) relationship with his father, King Saul.  In 1 Samuel 20:30 the monarch cursed out his son, although few versions in English have rendered the verse accordingly.  Saul’s reminder that Jonathan was also endangering his own potential kingship were rational yet ultimately unnecessary, for father and son died at about the same time.

St. Barnabas was a major ally of St. Paul the Apostle.  He assisted the former Saul of Tarsus, violent foe of nascent Christianity, who had become a convert to the faith recently.  St. Barnabas escorted St. Paul to meet with the understandably frightened remaining Apostles (Acts 9:26-28).  St. Barnabas, working among the Christians of Antioch, left to retrieve St. Paul from Tarsus and took him to Antioch (Acts 11:19-26).  Sts. Barnabas and Paul carried alms to Jerusalem (11:27-30).  The two men traveled together on evangelistic journeys (Acts 13:2).  St. Barnabas addressed the Council of Jerusalem (Acts 15:12), and he and St. Paul delivered the decree thereof to churches (Acts 15:22-31).  The two men parted company because they disagreed strongly over taking John Mark (St. Mark the Evangelist) with them, so Sts. Barnabas and Mark traveled together afterward (Acts 15:36-39).  Although St. Paul respected St. Barnabas (1 Corinthians 9:6 and Galatians 2:1, 9), he criticized his former traveling companion for, like St. Simon Peter, refusing table fellowship with Gentiles (Galatians 2:13).  Nevertheless, St. Barnabas had helped to make the former Saul of Tarsus the figure who became St. Paul the Apostle, vouching for him at a crucial juncture.  What if St. Barnabas had been wrong about St. Paul?  He took that risk.

Friends are people who stand by us at the most difficult times.  Such people are natural agents of divine grace.  May each of us have such friends and be such a friend to others, for the glory of God and for the common good.








Twenty-Eighth Day of Easter   8 comments

Above:  Jesus, the Alpha and the Omega

“Show Us the Father”

May 6, 2023 (Year A)


Acts 13:32-52 (Revised English Bible):

(Note:  The Lesser Feasts and Fasts designates 13:32-43 for Year C and 13:44-52 for Years A and B.  I have merged these lections.)

[Paul continued,]

We are here to give you the good news that God, who made the promise to the fathers, has fulfilled it for the children by raising Jesus from the dead, as indeed it stands written in the second Psalm:  ‘You are my son; this day I have begotten you.’ Again, that he raised him from the dead, never to be subjected to corruption, he declares in these words:  I will give you the blessings promised to David, holy and sure.’  This is borne out by another passage:  ‘You will not let your faithful servant suffer corruption.’  As for David, when he had served the purpose of God in his own generation, he died and was gathered to his fathers, and suffered corruption; but the one whom God raised up did not suffer corruption.  You must understand, my brothers, it is through him that everyone who has faith is acquitted of everything for which there was no acquittal under the law of Moses.  Beware, then, lest you bring down upon yourselves the doom proclaimed by the prophets:  “See this, you scoffers, marvel, and begone; for I am doing a deed in your days, a deed which you will never believe when you are told of it.’”

As they were leaving the synagogue they were asked to come again and speak on these subjects next sabbath; and after the congregation had dispersed, many Jews and gentile worshippers went with Paul and Barnabas, who spoke to them and urged them to hold fast to the grace of God.

On the following sabbath almost the whole city gathered to hear the word of God.  When the Jews saw the crowds, they were filled with jealous resentment, and contradicted what Paul had said with violent abuse.  But Paul and Barnabas were outspoken in their reply.

It was necessary,

they said,

that the word of God should be declared to you first.  But since you reject it and judge yourselves unworthy of eternal life, we now turn to the Gentiles.  For these are our instructions from the Lord:  ‘I have appointed you to be a light to the Gentiles, and a means of salvation to earth’s farthest bonds.’

When the Gentiles heard this, they were overjoyed and thankfully acclaimed the word of the Lord, and those who were marked out for eternal life became believers.  Thus the word of the Lord spread throughout the region.  But the Jews stirred up feeling among those worshippers who were women of standing, and among the leading men of the city; a campaign of persecution was started against Paul and Barnabas, and they were expelled from the district.  They shook the dust off their feet in protest against them and went to Iconium.  And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.

Psalm for Year C:  Psalm 16:5-11 (Revised English Bible):

LORD, you are my allotted portion and my cup;

you maintain my boundaries:

the lines fall for me in pleasant places;

I am well content with my inheritance.

I shall bless the LORD who has given me counsel:

in the night he imparts wisdom to my inmost being.

I have set the LORD before me at all times:

with him at my right hand I cannot be shaken.

Therefore my heart is glad

and my spirit rejoices,

my body rests unafraid;

for you will not abandon me to Sheol

or suffer your faithful servant to see the pit.

You will show me the path of life;

in your presence is the fullness of joy,

at your right hand are pleasures evermore.

Psalm for Years A and B:  Psalm 98:1-6 (Revised English Bible):

Sing a new song to the LORD,

for he has done marvellous deeds;

his right hand and his holy arm have won his victory known;

he has displayed his saving righteousness to all the nations.

He has remembered his love for Jacob,

his faithfulness towards the house of Israel.

All the ends of the earth have seen

the victory of our God.

Acclaim the LORD, all the earth;

break into songs of joy, sing psalms.

Sing psalms in the Lord’s honour with the lyre,

with the lyre and with resounding music,

with trumpet and echoing horn

acclaim the presence of the LORD our King.

John 14:7-14 (Anchor Bible):

[Jesus said to Thomas,]

If you men really knew me, then you would recognize my Father, too.  From now on you do know Him and have seen Him.

Philip said,

“Lord, show us the Father.  That’s enough for us.”

Jesus replied,

Philip, here I am with you all this time, and you still don’t know me?  Whoever has seen me has seen the Father.  So how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?  Do you not believe that I am in the Father and that the Father is in me?  The words that I say to you men are not spoken on my own; it is the Father, abiding in me, who performs the works.  Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; otherwise believe [me] because of the works.  Let me firmly assure you, the man who has faith in me will perform the same works that I perform.  In fact, he will perform far greater than these, because I am going to the Father, and whatever you ask in my name I will do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.  If you ask anything in my name, I will do it.

The Collect:

O Lord, you open the portals of your kingdom to those who have been reborn by water and the Spirit:  Increase the grace you have given to your children, that those whom you have cleansed from sin may attain to all your promises; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.  Amen.


We trust in Jesus Christ, fully human, fully God.

Jesus proclaimed the reign of God:  preaching good news to the poor and release to the captives, teaching by word and deed and blessing the children, healing the sick and binding up the brokenhearted, eating with outcasts, forgiving sinners, and calling all to repent and believe the gospel.

Jesus was crucified, suffering the depths of human pain and giving his life for the sins of the world.

God raised Jesus from the dead, vindicating his sinless life, breaking the power of sin and evil, delivering us from death to life eternal.

–A Brief Statement of Faith of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), lines 7-26


In God’s light we see light.  In Jesus we see God.

The Incarnation constitutes the foundation of my theology as a Christian.  God, although other and beyond total human comprehension, is not beyond reach and partial human comprehension.  We have far more than words and prophetic declarations; we have a life.

If we Christians attempt to be honest to our professions of faith, we will follow him whose name we claim.  This practice might place us in great risk–even deadly situations or other forms of persecution–but Jesus, the living Word of God, is not domesticated.  That is one reason many people wanted him dead.  But we know how that story ended, do we not?

In God’s light we see light.  In Jesus we see God.  Do others see Jesus in us?


Published originally at SUNDRY THOUGHTS OF KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR on April 6, 2010

Twenty-Seventh Day of Easter   9 comments

Above:  Jesus, the Bread of Life

“Do Not Let Your Hearts Be Troubled….”

May 5, 2023


Acts 13:26-33 (Revised English Bible):

[Paul continued,]

My brothers, who came of Abraham’s stock, and others among you who worship God, we are the people to whom this message of salvation has been sent.  The people of Jerusalem and their rulers did not recognize Jesus, or understand the words of the prophets which are read sabbath by sabbath; indeed, they fulfilled them by condemning him.  Though they failed to find grounds for the sentence of death, they asked Pilate to have him executed.  When they had carried out all that the scriptures said about him, they took him down from the gibbet and laid him in a tomb.  But God raised him from the dead; and over a period of many days he appeared to those who had come up with him from Galilee to Jerusalem, and they are now his witnesses before our people.

We are here to give you the good news that God, who made the promise to the fathers, has fulfilled it for the children by raising Jesus from the dead, as indeed it stands written in the second Psalm: ‘You are my son, this day I have begotten you.’

Psalm 2 (Revised English Bible):

Why are the nations in turmoil?

Why do the peoples hatch their futile plots?

Kings of the earth stand ready,

and princes conspire together

against the LORD and his anointed king.

Let us break their fetters,

they cry,

let us throw off their chains!

He who sits enthroned in the heavens laughs,

the Lord derides them;

then angrily he rebukes them,

threatening them in his wrath.

I myself have enthroned my king,

he says,

on Zion, my holy mountain.

I shall announce the decree of the LORD:

You are my son,

he said to me;

this day I have become your father,

Ask of me what you will:

I shall give you nations as your domain,

the earth to its farthest ends as your possession.

You will break them with a rod of iron,

shatter them like an earthen pot.

Be mindful, then, you kings;

take warning, you earthly rulers:

worship the LORD with reverence;

tremble, and pay glad homage to the king,

for fear the LORD may become angry

and you may be struck down in mid-course;

for his anger flares up in a moment.

Happy are all who find refuge in him!

John 14:1-6 (Anchor Bible):

[On the evening the Last Supper Jesus spoke to this apostles, saying,]

Do not let your hearts be troubled.  You have faith in God; have faith, then, in me.  There are many dwelling places in my father’s house; otherwise I would have warned you.  I am going off to prepare a place for you; and when I do go and prepare a place for you I am coming back to take you along with me, so that where I am, you may also be.  And you know the way to where I am going.

Thomas said,

Lord, we don’t know where you are going.  So how can we know the way?

Jesus told him,

I am the way and the truth and the life; no one comes to Father except through me.

The Collect:

Hear our prayers, O Lord, and, as we confess that Christ, the Savior of the world, lives with you in glory, grant that, as he himself has promised, we may perceive him present among us also, to the end of the ages; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.


The Authorized Version of the Bible translates “dwelling places” from John 14:2 as “mansions.”  This is a poor translation, for, depending on the scholar one consults, the reference in Greek can have three possible meanings:

1.  There are “many rooms” (as the New International Version renders the text).  The location of one’s room in the afterlife depends on one’s life:  good for good and evil for evil.  Some Jewish literature of the time contained this idea.

2.  There is a series of roadside rooms where a traveler sleeps overnight before rising the next morning and going on his or her way.  So there are stages of one’s spiritual journey, even in Heaven.

3.  There are many rooms in God’s house, with plenty of room for everybody.

I like #2.  But who knows, really?  The main idea we should remember that Jesus is central to this afterlife.

Let us remember, too, “Do not let your hearts be troubled.”  Given the literary context within the Johannine Gospel, Jesus had many reasons to be troubled.  And yet he said, “Do not let your hearts be troubled.”  And Paul the Apostle endured his share of difficulties after become a Christian and evangelist.  Yet the epistles he wrote and dictated reflect a deep and abiding faith, great determination, and moments of frustration and pique, but not a greatly troubled heart.

I was a student at Valdosta State University and a member of Christ Episcopal Church, Valdosta, Georgia, from 1993 to 1996.  One day I attended the funeral for Deacon Stella Clark’s son.  I arrived at the church just before the funeral, for I chose not to skip a class meeting.  The church was full, so I had to sit in the Parish Hall and listen to the service on a speaker.  I recall Stella reading the Gospel, which began “Do not let your hearts be troubled…,” her voice breaking.  That was great faith indeed.  During that service she administered communion, the bread of life, to me.

Life contains the good and the bad, the joyous and the excruciating, and all degrees in the middle.  Through it all we are not alone, no matter how much we feel that way.  Experience has taught me that grace is most noticeable when the need for it is greatest.  So I carry meaningful memories related to traumatic times.  I rejoice in the great joy during those troubled times and thank God for the spiritual growth which has flowed from them, but take no delight in those times themselves.  And I have learned more deeply the truth of “Do not let your hearts be troubled….”  This is a lesson one can learn only by living.


Published originally at SUNDRY THOUGHTS OF KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR on April 6, 2010

Posted October 29, 2010 by neatnik2009 in 2023, Episcopal Church Lectionary, May 5

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Twenty-Sixth Day of Easter   12 comments

A Soil Profile by the United States Department of Agriculture


May 4, 2023


Acts 13:13-25 (Revised English Bible):

Sailing from Paphos, Paul and his companions went to Perga in Pamphylia; John, however, left hem and returned to Jerusalem.  From Perga they continued to their journey as far as Pisidian Antioch.  On the sabbath they went to synagogue and took their seats; and after the readings from the law and the prophets, the officials of the synagogue sent this message to them:

Friends, if you have anything to say to the people by way of exhortation, let us hear it.

Paul stood up, raised his hand for silence, and began.

Listen, men of Israel and you others who worship God!  The God of this people, Israel, chose our forefathers.  When they were still living as aliens in Egypt, he made them into a great people and, with arm outstretched, brought them out of that country.  For some forty years he bore with their conduct in the desert.  Then in the Canaanite country, after overthrowing seven nations, whose lands he gave them to be their heritage for some four hundred and fifty years, he appointed judges for them until the time of the prophet Samuel.

It was then that they asked for a king, and God gave them Saul son of Kish, a man of the tribe of Benjamin.  He reigned for forty years before God removed him and appointed David as their king, with this commendation:  “I have found David the son of Jesse to be a man after my own heart; he will carry out all my purposes.”  This is the man from whose descendants God, as he promised, has brought Israel a saviour, Jesus.  John had made ready for his coming by proclaiming a baptism in token of repentance to the whole of Israel; and, nearing the end of his earthly course, John said, “I am not the one you think I am.  No, after me comes one whose sandals I am not worthy to unfasten.”

Psalm 89:20-29 (Revised English Bible):

I have found David my servant

and anointed him with my sacred oil.

My hand will be ready to help him,

my arm to give him strength.

No enemy will outwit him,

no wicked person will oppress him;

I shall crush his adversaries before him

and strike down those who are hostile to him.

My faithfulness and love will be with him

and through my name he will hold his head high.

I shall establish his rule over the sea,

his dominion over the rivers.

He will call to me,

You are my father,

my God, my rock where I find safety.

I shall give him the rock where I find safety.

I shall give him the rank of firstborn,

highest among the kings of the earth.

I shall maintain my love for him for ever

and be faithful in my covenant with him.

I shall establish his line for ever

and his throne as long as the heavens endure.

John 13:16-20 (Anchor Bible):

[Jesus continued,]

Let me firmly assure you, no servant is more important than his master; no messenger is more important that the one who sent him.  Now, once you understand this, happy are you if you put it into practice.  What I say does not refer to all of you: I know the kind of men I chose.  But the purpose is to have the Scripture fulfilled:  ‘He who feeds on bread with me has raised his heel against me.’  I tell you this now, even before it happens, so that, when it does happen, you may believe that I AM.  Let me firmly assure you, whoever welcomes anyone I shall send welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes Him who sent me.

The Collect:

Lord God Almighty, for no merit on our part you have brought us out of death into life, out of sorrow into joy:  Put no end to your gifts, fulfill your marvelous acts in us, and grant us who have been justified by faith the strength to persevere in that faith; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.


“Humble” comes from Old French, which draws from Latin, as in the word humilis, which means “lowly.”  The origin of humilis is humus, or “earth.”  So to be humble is to be close to the ground.  (Source = Encarta World English Dictionary, New York: St. Martins Press, 1999)

In the Bible people from humble origins rise to great heights.  In this day’s readings we have references to King Saul (who came from the least populous Hebrew tribe), King David (who tended smelly sheep), and Jesus of Nazareth (who, although a skilled artisan, was not upper class).  Today, when many people speak of the Emperor Augustus, they do so in the context of Jesus.  How many people would have expected that during Jesus’ lifetime?

Spiritual humility entails recognizing one’s proper role and accepting it, with the understanding that God knows best.  John the Baptist pointed the way to Jesus, not himself.  Jesus, he said, must decrease, but he (John the Baptist) must decrease.  Paul, whose writings indicate a powerful ego, nevertheless submitted himself to God.  And Jesus, of course, submitted himself to divine instructions, also.

So humility is not considering oneself worthless.  Every human being bears the image of God.  As I heard growing up, God did not make garbage.  But neither should we think ourselves greater than we are.  And we need to remember who is in charge, whose we are, and to think and act accordingly.  That is humility.


Posted originally at SUNDRY THOUGHTS OF KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR on April 6, 2010

Posted October 29, 2010 by neatnik2009 in 2023, Episcopal Church Lectionary, May 4

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