Second Sunday of Easter | April 19, 2009
Psalm 133 (1)
1 John 1:1–2:2
Prayer of the Day
Almighty God, with joy we celebrate the day of our Lord’s resurrection. By the grace of Christ among us, enable us to show the power of the resurrection in all that we say and do, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
Alleluia. Blessed are those who | have not seen
and yet have come | to believe. Alleluia. (John 20:29)
1A. CONTEXT: John 20:19-31
In an attempt to find some new life in a passage that is always the
gospel reading for Easter 2, I make some hefty assumptions about John's
context. The community this gospel writer addresses in the last two
decades of the first century has been cast out of the synagogue. John's
task includes proclaiming God's good news for all who will hear,
independent of some centuries-old religious traditions. In doing so,
synagogue, festivals, and ancient understandings (signs) must all be looked
at anew through the glory of the cross of Christ. The "Jews" for John are
the religious authorities who are linked to the changes that led to the
expulsion of Christians from the synagogue.
Having said all that, it seem that the Christians had a second
plague that was causing trouble in those last days of century one. The
gnostics tended to spiritualize everything and disdain the worldly, even
perhaps to the point of resembling schizophrenia. They were twisting the
Christian message, and particularly the role of the Spirit's influence. They
embraced the concrete thinking of epic drama, good vs. evil, etc.
John's gospel attempted to move away from the narrowness of a
choking tradition and a self-centered spirituality. Our lesson comes at the
end of Chapter 20. It is an ending to a gospel, largely assumed to have had
Chapter 21 appended later. This lesson includes a Pentecost event, the
faith struggle of Thomas, perhaps a type for all the earliest Christians,
and a concluding disclaimer. There is more here than just a doubter's
Thomas can be described as Jesus' most loyal follower in John's
gospel. When Jesus shares the news that Lazarus is dead (11:14), and has
implied its meaning lies in God's glory (11:4), Thomas suggest they all
return to Bethany to die together (11:16). When Jesus used the figure of
the Father's house to indicate a place for all his followers, it is again
Thomas who speaks. He might be the lightning rod that asks the question
on everyone's mind. His question on Jesus' direction leads to Jesus'
answer on three "I am's": the way, the truth, the life (14:1-6).
And here in Chapter 20 Thomas is asking for a tangible sign of Jesus'
resurrection from death. He, like so many before, also wants to see Jesus.
And in his encounter with Jesus, Thomas sees him alive again, yet carrying
the wounds of his former life. Jesus' image becomes one with the story
of every converted heart, beginning with Thomas, our disciple-father.
Jesus' wounds were visible, Thomas' doubts were recorded, our "wounds"
are remembered by us long after our "healing" too.
In this lesson as in Luke's story of the walk along the Emmaus Road,
Jesus proves to be the most effective witness to the resurrection.
1B. TEXT: John 20:19-31
19 On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” 20 When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. 21 Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.” 22 And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.” Jesus and Thomas
24 Now Thomas, one of the Twelve, called the Twin,  was not with them when Jesus came. 25 So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe.” 26 Eight days later, his disciples were inside again, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.” 28 Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” 29 Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
30 Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; 31 but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.
 20:24 Greek, Didymus
19ουσης ουν οψιας τη ημερα εκεινη τη μια σαββατων, και των θυρων κεκλεισμενων οπου ησαν οι μαθηται δια τον φοβον των ιουδαιων, ηλθεν ο ιησους και εστη εις το μεσον και λεγει αυτοις, ειρηνη υμιν. 20και τουτο ειπων εδειξεν τας χειρας και την πλευραν αυτοις. εχαρησαν ουν οι μαθηται ιδοντες τον κυριον. 21ειπεν ουν αυτοις [ο ιησους] παλιν, ειρηνη υμιν: καθως απεσταλκεν με ο πατηρ, καγω πεμπω υμας. 22και τουτο ειπων ενεφυσησεν και λεγει αυτοις, λαβετε πνευμα αγιον: 23αν τινων αφητε τας αμαρτιας αφεωνται αυτοις, αν τινων κρατητε κεκρατηνται. 24θωμας δε εις εκ των δωδεκα, ο λεγομενος διδυμος, ουκ ην μετ αυτων οτε ηλθεν ιησους. 25ελεγον ουν αυτω οι αλλοι μαθηται, εωρακαμεν τον κυριον. ο δε ειπεν αυτοις, εαν μη ιδω εν ταις χερσιν αυτου τον τυπον των ηλων και βαλω τον δακτυλον μου εις τον τυπον των ηλων και βαλω μου την χειρα εις την πλευραν αυτου, ου μη πιστευσω. 26και μεθ ημερας οκτω παλιν ησαν εσω οι μαθηται αυτου και θωμας μετ αυτων. ερχεται ο ιησους των θυρων κεκλεισμενων, και εστη εις το μεσον και ειπεν, ειρηνη υμιν. 27ειτα λεγει τω θωμα, φερε τον δακτυλον σου ωδε και ιδε τας χειρας μου, και φερε την χειρα σου και βαλε εις την πλευραν μου, και μη γινου απιστος αλλα πιστος. 28απεκριθη θωμας και ειπεν αυτω, ο κυριος μου και ο θεος μου. 29λεγει αυτω ο ιησους, οτι εωρακας με πεπιστευκας; μακαριοι οι μη ιδοντες και πιστευσαντες. 30πολλα μεν ουν και αλλα σημεια εποιησεν ο ιησους ενωπιον των μαθητων [αυτου], α ουκ εστιν γεγραμμενα εν τω βιβλιω τουτω: 31ταυτα δε γεγραπται ινα πιστευ[ς]ητε οτι ιησους εστιν ο χριστος ο υιος του θεου, και ινα πιστευοντες ζωην εχητε εν τω ονοματι αυτου.
Novum Testamentum Graece, Nestle-Aland 26th edition
© 1979, Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, Stuttgart, Germany
2. ANALYSIS: John 20:19-31
A) Eirene in John's gospel.
The PEACE that Jesus leaves with people is meant to ease
troubled hearts (14:27). When he speaks of the passion events to come,
Jesus adds that PEACE will be available in him (16:33). In the post-
resurrection account (20:19, 21,26) PEACE (shalom? healing?) from God is
offered as a greeting and as a gift to ease their grieving and fearful
PEACE is given in Christ to bring the followers of Jesus through
the trials of separation.
B) pneuma agion & pneuma in John's gospel.
The HOLY SPIRIT is to be a gift to believers at the time of
Christ's glory in the cross event (7:39). The counselor is the SPIRIT of
truth and will bear witness to Christ (15:26). The SPIRIT of truth will
guide people in all truth (16:13). The Counselor, the HOLY SPIRIT, sent
from the Father, will teach all things and bring to remembrance all Jesus
had said (14:26).
C) Use of "Peace" and "Holy Spirit" in our lesson.
Jesus greeted the disciples on Easter evening with his gift of
PEACE that their unburdened hearts might be open to receive the gift of
the HOLY SPIRIT and the office of keys (20:21-23). PEACE is extended the
following week to the group which then included Thomas (20:26).
3. STRATEGY: John 20:19-31
For John, "God so loved the WORLD" -- hard words for a gnostic to
speak and so a corrective to their brand of exclusive spirituality. But
included in this world were religious leaders, "Jews," who wanted
Christians out of the synagogues in the latter years of the first century.
Loyalty to people and things had always been the first order of faith.
Jesus' exchange with Thomas was to move him beyond the concrete
tradition of "seeing is believing."
Throughout the fourth gospel, signs of the miraculous had been
re-interpreted to give greater meaning to the true single event of glory,
the cross. Through the "I am" passages, God's presence is made known in
Christ, in the world.
Through the course of twenty chapters, the evangelist understands
the theology of Jesus' mission as replacing traditional Jewish observances
with the living presence of the Lord. Old Testament precedents abound. In
the exile, the prophets in Babylon had de-emphasized the Temple Cult.
Abraham's attempted sacrifice of Isaac on the mountain can be seen as a
corrective to practices of ancient child sacrifice. So, too, in John's gospel
we read in Jesus' exchange with the woman at the well (John 4) her
wanting to talk about religious things with the good rabbi. She
specifically mentions the cultic site of the Northern Kingdom's temple.
Jesus comes back with a replacement for her, too (Jn 4:21, 23-24).
Since it was to be that Christians were denied access to the
synagogue, the Spirit would be their strength. In Raymond Brown's Anchor
Bible commentary on John, two whole divisions of the book deal with the
reinterpretation of signs and festivals.
What of Thomas' encounters? Is he singled out to voice the loyalty
and concern of all the other followers? If that is so, the risen Christ is
also replacing traditional ways of religious behavior. No longer bound by
traditional concrete thinking, Thomas is called to make room for the
Spirit's work among the fellowship. Yes, Jesus is alive for Thomas and the
others, carrying the wounds of his former life. And yes, Thomas, too,
showed evidence of his wounds as he demanded signs. But the gospel
writer countered the gnostics by grounding Christ's mission to this world.
So, in opposite fashion, Thomas' struggles in this world would not
suddenly be relieved or spiritualized in the presence of Jesus. Thomas
received God's peace and came to faith (20:26, 28). The others, too, had
rejoiced in Christ's resurrected presence. That peace prompted Thomas'
joyous confession, "My Lord and my God" (20:28b).
The sign and the peace combined in the moment and converted
Thomas' heart to a new understanding. Here one last time in John 20, an
outward sign's miraculous nature was superceded by the living presence of
God among humankind. The message of the gospel writer was completed
and made whole in that moment of conversion for Thomas. In the future
the gift Thomas received would come through the Holy Spirit's prompting.
Christ's mission was complete. As on the Emmaus Road for Luke, Jesus
turns out to be the best witness to the resurrection.
4. REFERENCES: John 20:19-31
Brown, Raymond E. THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO JOHN. 2 vol. (Anchor Bible).
New York: Doubleday, 1966, 1970.
Jeske, Richard L. NEW TESTAMENT: TOWARD A HISTORICAL
UNDERSTANDING. Lawrence, Kansas: University of Kansas, 1977.
Martyn, J.L. HISTORY AND THEOLOGY IN THE FOURTH GOSPEL. New York:
Harper & Row, 1968.
5. WORSHIP SUGGESTIONS: John 20:19-31
It is a privilege to preach on the second Sunday of Easter. It is a day when your parish's staunchest supporters are present to celebrate Easter all over again. Sing their favorite Easter hymns. If there is a hymn
that rallies the faithful, include it. Also, the last six stanzas of "O Sons and Daughters of the King" tell the gospel story.
There is an obvious parallel between those who are most faithful in church attendance and those closest to our Lord who gathered Easter evening. Without sounding exclusive, let those present on "low
Sunday" know that they are special and appreciated.
Perhaps the pastors of our churches might do some Johannine re-interpreting and give some other week to the Vicars and associates who have traditionally received the assignment to preach on the so-called "Doubting Thomas."
Exegete: Paul Beck
Rev. Paul R. Beck began serving at Little Zion, Telford PA, in November of 1987. He has served congregations in Ridgewood, Queens, NY; Worcester, MA; and Norristown, PA. Paul received his undergraduate degree from Wittenberg University (Ohio) in 1970. He received his MDiv from the Lutheran Theological Seminary of Philadelphia in 1978. Prior to serving in ministry, Paul worked as a production stage manager off Broadway, appearing in Godspell.
He is married to Linda and they are the parents of three adult children. Paul's ministry at Little Zion includes administration, worship and music leadership, stewardship, evangelism, social ministry and outreach programs. His favorite Bible verse is from Matthew 28:20 when Jesus says: "And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age."
LEXEGETE © 2009
Mark, Evangelist | April 25, 2009
Psalm 57 (9)
2 Timothy 4:6-11, 18
Prayer of the Day
Almighty God, you have enriched your church with Mark's proclamation of the gospel. Give us grace to believe firmly in the good news of salvation and to walk daily in accord with it, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
Alleluia. This Jesus | God raised up;
and of that all of | us are witnesses. Alleluia. (Acts 2:32)
Third Sunday of Easter | April 26, 2009
Psalm 4 (3)
1 John 3:1-7
Prayer of the Day
Holy and righteous God, you are the author of life, and you adopt us to be your children. Fill us with your words of life, that we may live as witnesses to the resurrection of your Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
Alleluia. Our hearts | burn within us
while you open to | us the scriptures. Alleluia. (Luke 24:32)
1a. Context: Luke 24:36b-48
THE APPEARANCE OF THE RISEN CHRIST IN JERUSALEM
This unit closely resembles the account of the walk to Emmaus. There
are these same elements: the risen Christ appears, the disciples do not
recognize him, their doubt is rebuked, food is shared, belief emerges.
There are also, in many respected manuscripts, parallels insertions to
the account in John 20, as both the New RSV and the Rev'd English Bible
point out in their footnotes.
But there are also some unique emphases in this narrative:
1) the strong emphasis on the continuity between the
Scriptures and the Risen Christ;
2) the good news attached to this great event; and
3) the promise of the empowerment of the disciples so that
they can carry out what has been given to them to do.
1b. Text: Luke 24:36b-48
Lk. 24:36 While they were talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, "Peace be with you."
37 They were startled and terrified, and thought that they were seeing a ghost.
38 He said to them, "Why are you frightened, and why do doubts arise in your hearts?
39 Look at my hands and my feet; see that it is I myself. Touch me and see; for a ghost
does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have."
40 And when he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet.
41 While in their joy they were disbelieving and still wondering, he said to them, "Have
you anything here to eat?"
42 They gave him a piece of broiled fish,
43 and he took it and ate in their presence.
44 Then he said to them, "These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with
you-- that everything written about me in the law of Moses, the prophets, and the psalms must be fulfilled."
45 Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures,
46 and he said to them, "Thus it is written, that the Messiah is to suffer and to rise from the dead on the third day, 47 and that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem.
48 You are witnesses of these things.
Greek Text: Luke 24:36b-48
36ταυτα δε αυτων λαλουντων αυτος εστη εν μεσω αυτων και λεγει αυτοις, ειρηνη υμιν. 37πτοηθεντες δε και εμφοβοι γενομενοι εδοκουν πνευμα θεωρειν. 38και ειπεν αυτοις, τι τεταραγμενοι εστε, και δια τι διαλογισμοι αναβαινουσιν εν τη καρδια υμων; 39ιδετε τας χειρας μου και τους ποδας μου οτι εγω ειμι αυτος: ψηλαφησατε με και ιδετε, οτι πνευμα σαρκα και οστεα ουκ εχει καθως εμε θεωρειτε εχοντα. 40και τουτο ειπων εδειξεν αυτοις τας χειρας και τους ποδας. 41ετι δε απιστουντων αυτων απο της χαρας και θαυμαζοντων ειπεν αυτοις, εχετε τι βρωσιμον ενθαδε; 42οι δε επεδωκαν αυτω ιχθυος οπτου μερος: 43και λαβων ενωπιον αυτων εφαγεν. 44ειπεν δε προς αυτους, ουτοι οι λογοι μου ους ελαλησα προς υμας ετι ων συν υμιν, οτι δει πληρωθηναι παντα τα γεγραμμενα εν τω νομω μωυσεως και τοις προφηταις και ψαλμοις περι εμου. 45τοτε διηνοιξεν αυτων τον νουν του συνιεναι τας γραφας. 46και ειπεν αυτοις οτι ουτως γεγραπται παθειν τον χριστον και αναστηναι εκ νεκρων τη τριτη ημερα, 47και κηρυχθηναι επι τω ονοματι αυτου μετανοιαν εις αφεσιν αμαρτιων εις παντα τα εθνη αρξαμενοι απο ιερουσαλημ: 48υμεις μαρτυρες τουτων.
Novum Testamentum Graece, Nestle-Aland 26th edition
© 1979, Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, Stuttgart;
The Greek New Testament, 3rd edition
© 1975, United Bible Societies, London
2. Analysis: Luke 24:36-49
The most striking thing about the text itself may be its plainspokenness
and the power that is contained in Luke's direct style of reporting.
απιστεοο. I disbelieve. -"Out of joy." The Jerusalem Bible captures the
meaning admirably: "Their joy was so great they still could not believe it,
and they stood there dumbfounded (thaumadzoo--I wonder greatly.)
Or, REB: "It seemed too good to be true." The risen Lord shows them his hands, his feet and says 'Touch" (Πσεελαπηεεσατε) and see" ( ιδετε). There is a fish, already broiled (reminding us of the scene on the shore of the Sea of Galilee). It is ready for eating, and
he eats it, ενοοπιαν ("before their very eyes").
In such matter of fact reporting Luke is not entering into questions
about the resurrection body, as Paul later does (1 Cor. 15). He is making
one point, which Ignatius, the 2nd Century bishop of Antioch
paraphrased, "See that I am not a bloodless ghost" (Craddock, p 289).
v 44, Πλεεροο, fulfill. Having reported the facts, Luke turns to the lesson
to be learned. Christ speaks of the fulfillment of 1) what he himself had
spoken when with them, and 2) what is perhaps of even greater
significance, the continuity between what they have now experienced
and the promises of the Scriptures (γεγραμμενα , "what has been
written), promises found in the three major sections which speak of the
coming Messiah, the Law of Moses, the prophets, and the Psalms. We
might paraphrase: "It's been there all the time, and now you know it."
But what is the meaning of these things that have taken place? As in
the Emmaus experience, the Christ himself must open their minds and
give them understanding. The significance and nature of the Messiah's
mission is then laid out. It is given in words so plain and direct that
what Christ says may become, for some, little more than a cliche. But
each word contains dynamite and deserves respectful attention.
Πατηειν--"Suffer." Αναστεεναι εκ νεκρον--"rise from the dead."
κεερισσοο. This is a most powerful verb: 'I proclaim, herald."
The suffering and death of the Christ are to be proclaimed so that
people are led to repentance (μετανοια, a turning around) and
forgiveness of sins (αμαρτια - the effects in the soul's broken
relationship with God).
αρξαμενοι. The Expositor's Greek Testament: "We have to suppose a
pause and then Jesus resuming [and saying] to the eleven -
"beginning," the implied though not expressed thought being: this
preaching of repentance is to be your work - beginning at Jerusalem."
v. 49. επαγγελιαν του πατροσ. The Messiah has carried out his
mission. He has in turn commissioned his disciples . But how
shall be able to do this? Jesus says he will "send the promise of
my Father upon you."
κατηισατε: Expositor's Greek: "sit still, patiently but with hope."
And the promise itself? ενδυσεστηε (from ενδυοο) to be clothed,
invested with power from on high.
3. Strategy: Luke 24:36-49
As we have seen, verses 44-49 contain instruction, commission and
promise, not only to the disciples but to us. There are many sides
to these three themes, and we venture to suggest some as part of a
1. The nature of discipleship . The Risen Christ is real, not a
bloodless ghost. By the very sequence of events he demonstrates that
for those who follow him there will be suffering before the
resurrection, trial before glory. "'See my hands and feet' (v. 39)
is Christ's word to the church. Easter is forever joined to Good
Friday, and to follow the risen Christ is to follow one who bore the
cross" (Craddock, p. 290).
2. The centrality and importance of Scripture. There is eradicable
linkage between Jesus and the Old Testament. His work rests upon
the prophecies of the Old Testament. His work opens up the meaning
of the Old Testament. When he speaks of fulfilling what was written,
he is saying about of himself, "This was God's plan all along. Now
3. Good News for all who have failed God. Without apology the
suffering, death, and resurrection of the Christ is to be proclaimed
as God's call to understand that the way is open to repentance and
the forgiveness of sins. This was his plan from the beginning, and
now the secret is out. The mission of the Messiah has been made
clear. For the disciples in the upper room life had become a living
death. They were like men trapped in the tunnel of a mine which has
caved in. And they had themselves caused that cave-in. They hear
tapping above. They look up. A hole appears in the roof of the
tunnel. Light appears. They see the face of their rescuer. They
are filled with inexpressible joy. They have been brought back for
the dead. And this experience of the risen Christ is to be behind
their preaching to others, that they might be rescued as well. Both
the disciples then and now are infused with a desire to look to the
Scriptures, Old and New, and rejoice in all that has been written to
reveal to us the everlasting love of God.
4. A Mission To All People. The risen Christ makes it very clear:
What we have cannot be kept to ourselves. It is for all people, and
always has been. Going to all the nations was not a second choice
after the Jews rejected the gospel, Luke would remind us. It was
always there. But Christ's disciples have always had trouble
actualizing the incredible wideness of God's mercy. "After twenty
centuries, preaching a crucified Christ and accepting all people
equally continue as problems haunting the corners of the church,
awaiting full and free resolution" (Craddock, p. 291).
5. The Help of the Holy Spirit. The promises of God never cease.
We who are given what seems to be such a daunting commission are
offered along with the first disciples the promise that help is on
the way. This help will come in the form of being clothed with power
from on high. This is the promise of the coming of the Holy Spirit.
I've been told that when Judges 6:34 speaks of the Spirit of the LORD
taking possession of Gideon, the Hebrew conveys the picture of a man putting on a suit of clothes. In any case, it's a powerful figure for a church
which is so often like a man snuggled under the covers who only
dreams he is dressing.
The promise is the promise of empowerment by the Holy Spirit.
When John the Evangelist speaks of this empowerment, he thinks
of guidance and strengthening. Paul thinks of the Spirit sanctifying
and equipping. Luke thinks of the Spirit moving people and
empowering people to carry out God's mission throughout the world.
4. REFERENCES: Luke 24:36-49
Craddock, Fred B. Interpretation, A Bible Commentary for
Teaching & Preaching. Atlanta, Georgia: John Knox Press,1990.
The Expositor's Greek Testament, Vol. I.
S. MacLean Gilmour, Interpreter's Bible, Vol. 8, The Gospel of
Luke. Nashville, TN: Abingdon, 1952.
Rienecker, Fritz, Sprachlicher Schlussel zum Grieschen Neuen
Testament, 1956, Brunnen Verlag, GMBH, Giessen und Basel.
5. Hymn Suggestions: Luke 24:36-49
Christ is alive! Let Christians sing (HB 182, LBW 363)
Christ Jesus lay in death's strong bands (HB 185-6, LBW 134)
Christ the Lord is Risen Again (HB 184)
Good Christians all, rejoice and sing (HB 205, LBW 144)
Shepherd of souls, refresh and bless (HB 343)
That Easter Day with joy was bright (HB 193, LBW 154)
The strife is o'er, the battle done (HB 208, LBW 135)
Exegete: Vernon R. Schreiber
Philip and James, Apostles | May 1, 2009
Psalm 44:1-3, 20-26 (26)
2 Corinthians 4:1-6
John 14: 8-14
Prayer of the Day
Almighty God, you gave to your apostles Philip and James grace and strength to bear witness to your Son. Grant that we, remembering their victory of faith, may glorify in life and death the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
Alleluia. You will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea | and Samaria,
and to the ends | of the earth. Alleluia. (Acts 1:8)
LEXEGETE © 2009
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