Bread – Hope

May 30, 2016

Psalm 22

“My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?  Why are You so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning?…Yet You are holy…In You our fathers trusted…” Ps. 22:1-4

How often have we felt like this?  Out in the middle of our trials and tribulations, surrounded by events not of our (apparent) doing and surrounded by people we would rather not be associated with, we feel really, really alone.  Where are our friends?  Where is our family?  Where is God?

Perhaps the closest we can come from feeling like we have been totally abandoned is if we are a small child and both parents are killed or disappear, or we have some terrible disease fall upon us which is horribly contagious, and all of our friends and family melt away.  But even then, the small child may be helped by some people who come alongside of him.  The contagious disease-ridden person, may see the nurses and doctors surrounding them and they may even see their loved ones outside the windows, aching to get in.

But what if we have fallen to the bottom of the well and the voices of the searchers have wandered away to be replaced by the sounds of the night and by the predators who wander it?

Or we find ourselves alone in a desert, accompanied only by scorpions and drenching heat?

But even in those circumstances we may have memories to attach to, to fill our longing for companionship.

The fact is that, even when we feel like we have been forsaken, there is a part of us which knows that we have not.  The Psalmist joins us in this knowledge, reflecting that, even In the worst of times, we know that God has been faithful to those who believe in Him – “In You our fathers trusted.”

And, yet, as we read this and apply it to ourselves, perhaps there is a “gong” going off in the back of our mind, that we have read or heard those same words before.

And, the answer is, “yes, you have.”  You have heard these words before because they are the same words spoken by Jesus on the cross – “And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying ‘Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?’ that is, ‘My God, my God, why have your forsaken me?”  Matt. 27:46

This Psalm is known as the “Psalm of the Cross” by some people because it is a prophecy, written by David at a time when crucifixion was unknown, of a crucifixion, of Jesus’ crucifixion.

In order for God the Father to forgive our sins, there had to be a perfect atonement.  Because Jesus took on our sins, the sins of the world, and because sin is abhorrent to God, an affront to His holiness, God left Jesus and Jesus was truly forsaken.   For a moment in time, all connection, all love, all relationship, between Jesus and the Father was broken.

And in the moment of that separation, in the agony of being abandoned by the Father, what did Jesus remember?  Did He, as the Psalmist suggests, remember that God was faithful historically and, by extension, would be faithful to Him?  We were not there and we do not know, but why not?  He of all people knew the character of God the Father – the very character that had to separate from Jesus because of sin was also the same character which had shown Himself time and time again would not forever abandon His people.  The connection between God the Father and God the Son had to be broken because of wrath, because of sin, and the connection would be restored because of love.

In the moment of His greatest desperation, when Jesus was separated from the Father, because He knew His Father’s character, Jesus also had the greatest hope.

We may and probably will feel abandoned by many around us.  We may also feel so abandoned that we cry forth “My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?”  And in that moment, instead of despair, perhaps in this we will find hope – the God who rescued Israel is the God who raised Jesus from the dead is the God who has saved us from death eternal to life everlasting.    For those who trust Jesus, we may feel abandoned but we are not, we may feel forsaken but we are not, we may feel unforgiven but we are not.

We have hope in spite of ourselves, in spite of circumstances … because we remember.


© 2016 GBF  All Scripture quotations are from the English Standard Version (2001), unless otherwise indicated.



Bread – Tent

April 11, 2016

Psalm 15

“O Lord, who shall sojourn in Your tent?”  Ps. 15:1

While I write this, I am in a hotel room in California, far away from my home in Texas.  The people here are just like me, but not.  They have a different outlook on life, live and let live is more the motto here than live according to the Word.

And it struck me in this land, while I read Psalm 14, that I was a sojourner here, a traveler, a temporary resident, going from point A to point B with a stopover in my life in this place, perhaps to return.

As representatives of the kingdom of God, we are fellow travelers here on earth, sojourners on the way to figuring out ourselves, the meaning of life, the existence and reality of God, our purpose on earth, and the kind of people we will be and who and what we will follow.

So where are we sojourning?

God is present in His sanctuary, and for the longest His sanctuary, His place of meeting on earth, was a tent.  The tent of meeting.  And the predominant feature of a tent is that it is portable, it is capable of travelling as well.  And for those of us who have climbed mountains, it is quite customary for us to carry our tent, our place of rest, with us on our back.  So a tent not only suggests portability, it suggests a place of rest, of sanctuary, and of meeting.

In this one sentence is a deep question.  When we go about our daily ways, our jobs, playing with our children, our life … do we carry God with us?  Do we seek sanctuary on a regular basis with Him?  Do we rest in His tent?

If you think about it, it is a remarkable thing to be able to say that, where I am, God is also.  In fact, it may seem presumptuous except for the fact that God has given us that promise when we are His.

On a broader scale, we could say that we always travel in God’s tent, because His tent is the creation, and we walk on earth.  But I don’t think that is what is meant here.  Instead, I think what is meant is that man has the opportunity to have God with him wherever he is, if he will but make sure that he is sojourning in His tent, with Him, in Him, and through Him.

“O Lord, who shall sojourn in Your tent?”  Your children, O Lord.  For wherever they are, wherever you are, wherever I am, You are also.



© 2016 GBF   All Scripture quotations are from the English Standard Version (2001), unless otherwise indicated.






Bread – Recover

April 3, 2016

Psalm 13

“But I have trusted in Your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in Your salvation.  I will sing to the Lord because He has dealt bountifully with me.” Ps. 13:5-6

Today is April 1, April Fool’s day, and I have been thinking all week about how I could bring together this fact together with the fact that this is the 13th Psalm, and, therefore, the presumably “unlucky” Psalm, together.

We began the week with whining .. “How long, O Lord.  Will You forget me forever?” Ps. 13:1  We then began the process of prayer, reaching out to God in the knowledge that unless God “light up my eyes,” we will “sleep the sleep of death.”  Ps. 13:3  While we are in the pit of despair, we may feel like we are dying, but without God lighting up our eyes, we really are dying.

And so we end the week singing to the Lord, because “He has dealt bountifully with me.”

What has changed?  Have our circumstances changed?  We don’t know, but probably not.  If we were in the pit of despair because we had no money and no food, we probably still have no money and no food while we acknowledge our trust in God because He has dealt bountifully in the past.  Are situation has not changed, but our attitude about our situation has.

When we turn from our problems and face God, our problems are still there, but our depression has made way to hope, our fear to courage, and our anger to love.

Well, it is April Fool’s Day and this is the 13th Psalm, so is there a joke in here somewhere.

The world would say that there is a joke and it is on us.  They would point to the problems which drove us to despair and say, “See, the problems are still there.  Your faith is empty.  It has produced no solutions.  Now follow the ways of the world, get up and get moving, and start earning your way to prosperity.

Are they right?  In their own mind, they are and we are a bunch of fools for believing in who cannot be seen.  And they would be right but for one thing.  The God who gives us His steadfast love, whose promises are sure, who has dealt “bountifully with us,” is the same God, who in His sovereignty, in His majesty, in His mercy, and in His power has lit up our eyes so that we will not be asleep in the sleep of death, but awake to life, life now and life eternal.

Our faith is not something which we learn, we grow into, we acquire, we build, or we invent.  Our faith is given to us by God who loves us, so that, when we find ourselves staring at our problems, at our lives lived poorly, at opportunities wasted, at loss and ruin, we may turn to Him and, in so doing, remind ourselves that we have trusted in God and His steadfast love and that He has in the past dealt “bountifully” with us.

So, is the 13th Psalm unlucky?  Yes, but not for us … for Satan.  For built into this Psalm is reminder of what to do when we despair … turn toward God, pray, and remember.  And in so doing we steal from Satan one of his primary tools to draw us away from God – discouragement, and lay it at the feet of Him who calls us into hope, joy, and life.

The Bible does say that those people who do not seek after God are fools.  But we do not need to go there on April Fool’s day.  Instead, all we need to do is to know that we are not, and be grateful to the One who has brought us to the point where “our heart(s) shall rejoice in Your salvation.” Ps. 13:5


© 2016 GBF   All Scripture quotations are from the English Standard Version (2001), unless otherwise indicated





Bread – Despair

March 28, 2016

Psalm 13

“How long, O Lord?  Will Your forget me forever?  How long will You hide Your face from me?  How long must I take counsel in my soul and have sorrow in my heart all the day? How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?  Ps. 13:1-2

There are many titles I could have given this Bread.  “Depression” is one.  “Lost” is another.  “Abandoned” is a third.

I think, though, that the word “despair” says it best.  In depression there is knowledge that there will be a better day.  In being lost there is the built in hope of being found.  “Abandoned” is closer to the word “despair,” but even being abandoned one has the sense of being found, sort of like when one is lost.  But “despair?”  When we despair, we are at bottom.  When we despair, all choices of better evaporate.  When we despair, we are at the bottom of the well of life and there is, seemingly, no way out.

When we are forgotten by our family or friends, surrounded by real and imagined enemies, at the end of our rope, there is still God.  But when He has apparently disappeared as well, never to again touch or soothe or protect or empower us, then despair sets in.  Abandon all hope, ye who enter into the chamber of despair.

And when we despair and see no way out, when we feel that both God and man have abandoned us, when our personal reserves of energy, vitality, and life are consumed … what then?  A minute in despair feels like an eternity.  An hour in despair tears down the mind.  A day in despair shuts down our bodies.  A week in despair destroys our spiritual self.  What about a month of despair?  A year of despair?  The mere thought crushes life, desire, and action.  The mere thought of prolonged despair is more than we can imagine, more than we can stand.

So is it any wonder that David says, four times, “How long, O Lord?”  The darkness of despair is so intense that it does not matter how long in reality it is, it is always too long and we ask, “How long, O Lord?  Will You forget me forever?”

Who has not been to the place of despair, of the blackest thoughts, the deepest depression, the midnight of the soul?  Abandoned by God and man, beaten down by our adversaries, submerged under the flood of bad things, left to our thoughts and sorrows, crushed by life, lost to the world, at our wit’s end.  Bottom.

Now that I’ve put you in the mood, think for a moment about what Jesus felt on the cross when He was abandoned by the Father, left in despair, on His own without spiritual support.

When Jesus was abandoned, He too cried out “How long, O Lord?” It was in the form of “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?”  Matt. 27:46.  But regardless of the form, it was a cry of despair to God the Father who appeared to have forgotten Jesus, who appeared to have hidden His face from Jesus, who had let Jesus’ enemies be exalted over Him.

When we despair, when we feel abandoned and alone, we can always bring to mind that we are in good company – Jesus felt the same way for the same reason, and God raised Him from despair and death unto life.  And through His despair, death, and resurrection, as our advocate before the Father, Jesus does the same for us when we cannot do it for ourselves.

If it feels that God has abandoned me, has He?  If it feels that I am at the bottom of the well with no way out, is this true?

We cannot deny our feelings and we may in fact be in despair, feeling that we are abandoned by God, lost from God’s favor, stepped on by our enemies, left to our own sorrowful devices and thoughts.  And we, too, can cry out like David and yell at God, “How long?”

It’s OK.  Jesus did it, and God answered Him.  And He will answer you, too.


© 2016 GBF   All Scripture quotations are from the English Standard Version (2001), unless otherwise indicated.




Bread – Tired

November 15, 2013

Readings for Friday, November 15, 2013, designated by the 1979 Book of Common Prayer: *; Rev. 19:11-16; Matt. 16:13-20; Psalms 88,91,92


This morning, after reading our Scriptures of the day, I stopped and thought about the readings, and nothing came to mind for today’s Bread. Knowing that I could not force it, I leaned back in my chair and prayed that God would reveal something to me. And nothing happened. So, then I went back to prayer and, after a few minutes, God sent me something – a yawn. And then I just felt tired.

We are so tired. We are tired of the squabbles. We are tired of trying to understand. We are tired of trying to get something accomplished. We are tired of our bosses. We are tired of our jobs. We are tired of our lives. We are tired of being called names. We are tired of not being called names and instead being ignored. We are tired of the ways of the world. We are tired of the ways of the church. We are tired of others and we are tired of ourselves. We are tired of earning a living. We are tired of saving for a rainy day. We are tired of standing, sitting, and laying down. We are tired.

Depressed yet?

And then I started chuckling to myself, because God had in fact sent me a message. It was a message that I am not able to get myself out of the ditch that I am in.

And our readings today are to that point. In Matthew, Jesus asks His disciples who He is, what people are saying about Him. After the usual list of possible reincarnations of great people of the Old Testament, Peter says “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Matt. 16:16. Jesus responds by telling Peter that he is blessed, that God revealed this to him and Peter did not come to this belief through his own understanding, and that Jesus will build His church on “this rock.” Matt. 16:18 The blessing which Jesus mentions is not the blessing which Jesus gives, but the blessing which Peter already has because he has been graciously, sovereignly chosen by the Father to receive the personal revelation that Jesus is the Christ. Peter may be tired, but he is blessed and by his confession of Jesus he is saved. The person who could not lift himself out of the daily rut has been lifted by God into eternal life with Him.

Then we have Revelation. Jesus is in heaven, ready to tread the winepress of the fury of wrath of God the Almighty. He rides a white horse, the horse of victory. He wears a superior crown of diadems; He is King. He wears a robe dipped in blood because it is by His sacrifice on the cross that we are saved. He has a name written which is both known (“the Word of God” and “King of Kings and Lord of Lords”) and unknown (“a name written that no one knows but Himself), because God is both known to us through His Word and Jesus, and yet unknowable in His entirety. He is all-powerful and He is coming. And He is doing all this without our having to do anything.

See, even if we are tired, God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is and are not. When we could not save ourselves, He saves us. When we cannot fend for ourselves, He protects us. When we are too tired to act, He empowers us with His Holy Spirit to act. When we are weak, He is strong. While we lack power, He is power.

And in Revelation, Jesus is accompanied by “the armies of heaven, arrayed in fine linen, white and pure.” Who do you think those people are?

They are the saints. Tired on earth but victorious in life.

Are you tired? Jesus could have said: “Be Peter, come to me and acknowledge Who I Am, and then join me in the day of victory.” Those are my words – Here are His: “Come to Me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Matt. 11:28


© 2013 GBF


Bread – Exile

April 8, 2013


What does it mean to be exiled, to be banned? We tend to associate exile with places or geography. But exile as well may be a departure from what is important to us, or at least what we claim in important. For example, in the first instance, if I am locked out of my apartment because I have not paid my rent, I am exiled to the street. If, on the other hand, I have been temporarily excluded from family affairs because of bad behavior, I am in a form of exile, of expulsion from particular relationships until I am restored.

So, when Adam and Eve were exiled from the Garden, they were exiled in two different ways. First, they were ejected from the Garden. Second, they lost their dependent relationship upon God.

We have both examples today in our readings. In Daniel, Nebuchadnezzar defeats Jerusalem and takes certain children away from Jerusalem and put them in his own home. Daniel was one of these children. Clearly, these children were exiled from Jerusalem, their home, and taken by force to a place not of their choosing. This was not just a different place geographically, but a different place religiously, economically, politically, and socially. This was complete physical exile.

In 1 John, John describes that, when we walk in the light of God, we have fellowship with one another. When we are exiled from the light into the darkness, that relationship disappears. Here the place of exile is not a physical location but the place of the soul. When we exile ourselves from God’s grace and his light, we exile ourselves from each other.

Using these ideas, it seems apparent that we often are in exile, either through our actions or the actions of others. We are often deprived of the benefits of hope, joy, security, effectiveness, love, safety, and home, sometimes by what others do but often by what we do to ourselves.

When this happens, what are we to do? All of Scripture today addresses this question. In Daniel, when Daniel and his friends are offered the king’s food, they decline and ask for vegetables so that they might not be “defiled.” What this teaches is that when we are in exile, we can still remember what God has told us and taught us, that He loves us, that His plan for us is perfect, that His ways are true, that His laws deserve obedience, that His way is the way. While we are in exile, we may do the best we can and yet still honor God, treasure His Word, rest in His grace and protection, and rely on His power. In 1 John, when we find ourselves walking in darkness after having exiled ourselves from the light, we can confess our sins, and when we do “He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 Jn. 1:9 By implication, we are then restored to the light. In the gospel account of John, we are reminded that, though we may be in exile, it is temporary because those whom God has given to Jesus Christ are not lost by Him – “I [Jesus] have guarded them, and not one of them has been lost except the son of destruction, that the Scripture might be fulfilled.” Jn. 17:12b

Are you feeling in exile today, either physically or emotionally? Are you separated from home, family, friends? Do you feel separated from Christ? Do you feel that you have wandered off the path in a form of self-exile? No matter. Recall who you are and whose you are. Bloom wherever you are planted, so that the grace and love of God may appear in you to others. Confess your sin, so that you may be restored to the light. Walk in the ways of holiness, in the ways of God and not of man. Remember that Christ died so that you might live in whatever circumstances and that He is praying a prayer before the Father something like this – “I [Jesus] am praying for them [you]. I am not praying for the world but for those whom You have given Me, for they are Yours.” Jn. 17:9 If you have been saved by grace, by the sovereign will and act of God, then it does not matter where you are or what state you are in, because you are His.

And what that means is simply that, though we be separate in distance or feeling, we are never separate in fact. When we are Christ’s we are never in exile.


© 2013 GBF


Bread – Lost

August 12, 2011

Readings for Friday, August 12, designated by the Book of Common Prayer: 2 Sam. 15:19-37; Acts 21:37-22:16; Mark 10:46-52; Psalms 102, 107:1-32


There are many ways of being lost, and our reading today from Psalm 107 talks about four of them.

The first way we can be lost is by wandering in desert wastelands. These are places of dryness, where there is nothing of value to eat or drink. This is a place where our natural reserves of fat and water are rapidly depleted and we can do little for ourselves except stumble around, trying to find food and water, hoping we can “luck” upon a place of refreshment. These are barren places, where we cannot see clearly because of the dust and the sand born in the air by fierce winds of opposition.

The second way we can be lost is finding ourselves imprisoned in darkness and in the “deepest gloom.” This may be darkness of the heart, where we see no life worth living ahead. This may be darkness of the mind, where we see no path whatsoever to victory, only defeat. This may be darkness of the soul, where we are best by the demons in our lives.

The third way we can be lost is by losing the best through our foolishness, through our disobedience to good instruction, to God’s law. From this disobedience comes affliction of all kinds, imposed by society, God, or ourselves, it does not matter – we are in the pit of despair. In this state we may hate the good, refuse instruction in the right, ignore knowledge and truth. Our way appears to become the best way and quickly turns into the hideous reality of no way.

The fourth way we can become lost is by launching into an adventure only to confront adversity which overwhelms us and leaves us with no options. In the Psalm today, this adventure is described as the “sea” and the “mighty waters” and the adversity is described as the “tempest that lifted the high waves.” In this peril there appears to be no hope, no solution, no peace, no way out.

Each of these places can be conquered, but not by us. In describing these places of lostness, the psalm writer also describes the way out.

In the first place of lostness, the desert, the person who was lost “cried out to the Lord” and was delivered from his or her distress. The Lord delivered them “by a straight way to a city where they could settle.”

In the second place of lostness, the dark place, the person who was lost “cried to the Lord” and was saved from his or her distress. The Lord saves them by bringing them out of this gloom and by breaking their chains, cutting through the iron bars which imprison them.

In the third place of lostness, steeped deep in sin through disobedience, the person who was lost “cried to the Lord” and was saved. The Lord saves them by sending to them His Word, by healing their sin, and by rescuing them from the grave.

In the fourth place of lostness, on the adventure of life, the person who was lost “cried out to the Lord” and the storm was still and they were guided to their safe haven.

In every place of lostness there is an out, but only one. We must “cry out to the Lord” and let Him do the heavy lifting, let Him set the path, calm the storm, break the chains, heal our soul, teach us through His Word, save us. We have no power over the desert, the tempest, the consequences of sin, the chains of our prisons – but God does and He can and does set us free.

“Whoever is wise, let him heed these things and consider the great love of the Lord.” Ps. 107:43



Bread – Lost

October 1, 2010

Readings for Friday, October 1, designated by the Book of Common Prayer:

Hosea 10:1-15; Acts 21:37-22:16; Luke 6:12-26; Psalms 102, 107:1-32


Psalm 107 in our readings today present to us four forms of being lost, what one might call situations of “lostness.”

The first are – “Some wandered in desert wastelands, finding no way to a city where they could settle.” Psalm 107:4

These are the people who find themselves in Nowhereville. The desert provides nothing to eat or drink. People die in the desert from lack of nourishment. Most deserts are hot to the point of burning. One can find no shelter in the desert, no covering, no protection against the forces of nature. In the desert, one direction looks no better than the other. Which way to green pasture? Which way to life-giving brooks of water? Which way to comfort? In the middle of Nowhereville, in the middle of the desert, no one knows the way.

The second are – “Some sat in darkness and the deepest gloom, prisoners suffering in iron chains, for they had rebelled against the words of God and despised the counsel of the Most High.” Psalm 107:10

Since we are all children of Adam, we all have rebelled against the words of God and, therefore, at one time or another we all find ourselves lost in the dark. In the dark we are afraid, so afraid that in this passage we are actually just sitting rather than trying to find a way out. Our fear and our hopelessness drives us to depression (“deepest gloom”), so the lostness of dark may be just in our mind. We are surrounded by light but cannot see because our minds are imprisoned to the darkness of despair. While we are sitting in darkness, depressed and full of despair, hopeless, in chains to our misery, we cannot see a way out. We cannot see the solution to our problems. We cannot figure out which way is out. We are lost, we are in chains, we are in a miserable state. In the dark, one direction looks no better than the other. Which way to light? Which way to hope? We don’t know, and we won’t know because we are sitting in the dark, lost.

The third are – “Some became fools through their rebellious ways and suffered affliction because of their iniquities.” Psalm 107:17

We love to use our reason, so set our science and our thoughts on the pedestal of worship. In so doing, we ignore God’s commands because they are “old-fashioned,” “for another time, culture, and place,” or “written by ignorant people who only knew how to raise donkeys and knew nothing about the Internet.” In so doing, we rebel against God’s rules for our life, His instructions for our safety, and so find ourselves lost in the foolishness of the world’s wisdom. Once we get there, of what good is God? When we can think of all alternatives, achieve all possibilities if only we “think we can,” conquer life through intelligent use of technology, and dream up unnecessary complexities to justify our jobs and our existence, then we will one day find ourselves in a corner of our own logic, retired by obsolescence, destroyed by predictable mistakes, conquered by the next person with superior “reason.” In the sorry state of self-reliance, we are more lost than perhaps even when we are in the desert or in the dark. We may be more lost because, in our own minds and our own strengths, we do not even realize that we are lost. We are lost and don’t know it, so we are not even trying to find a way out. Like the frog boiled to death in the pot of water, one degree at a time, we become more lost as days go by, glorying in our knowledge, reason, and technology, not even realizing that we have no place to go, no real eternal hope, no real direction.

The fourth are – “Others went out on the sea in ships; they were merchants on the mighty waters…in their peril their courage melted away.” Psalm 107:23, 26

The fourth situation of lostness is where one is successful and adventurous, perhaps even guided by an accurate compass, but finds oneself in the middle of the storm, in the situation of great peril. We can become so overwhelmed by the storm we are in, by the complex perils of family life, by the negative situations in our jobs, by just the quakes of life, that we become lost. We are in the storm. What direction do we go in? What is the solution? Where is the hope? How do we get our way out of this mess? In the storm we are lost, we are afraid, we are frozen into inaction, we lack direction.

Maybe today you find yourself in one of these categories of lostness. Perhaps you are in the desert of life. Perhaps you are in the storm. Perhaps you are sitting in the dark. Perhaps you are so self-reliant that you don’t even know that you are lost. In all events, the solution is the same and is given in the same Psalm.

To the one lost in the desert, God says “Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble, and He delivered them from their distress.” Psalm 107:6

To the one lost in the dark, God says “Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and He saved them from their distress.” Psalm 107:13

To the one lost in his foolishness, God says “Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and He saved them from their distress.” Psalm 107:19

To the one lost in his storm, God says “Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble, and He brought them out of their distress.” Psalm 107:28

So what do you do when you are lost? I’ve got a great idea! What about calling out to the Lord? And He will bring you, He will carry you, He will deliver you, and He will save you.


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