July 15, 2018 The beheading of John (Mark 6) is violent, cruel...and frankly, senseless. What do we do this senseless story of lust, pride and violence? What do we do with the senseless parts of human history? What do we do with the senseless parts of our own story?
July 8, 2018 Road Trip! Jesus sends out his disciples with some unusual packing instructions (Mark 6). As we travel during the summer -- and really as we journey through life -- Jesus also offers us some packing instructions.
July 1, 2018 Jesus heals two dramatically different people (Mark 5), a beautiful reminder that Jesus loves all people. How do we live with this teaching to love all people in a political situation in our country right now that is filled with anger and fear? Not an easy answer, but Pastor Rob reflects on how we can move forward, ultimately commending us to a ministry of reconciliation: giving our fear and anger to the cross, not back to the world.
June 24, 2018 The storms of life happen, even to good people, even to people in the boat with Jesus (Mark 4). Pastor Rob talks about how we can prayerfully respond to the storms of life: prayers of "lament" (church word for complaint!). The story though does not end with a storm but with the peace that Christ's brings. Christ comes amid the storms of our life offering his peace.
June 17, 2018 When teaching parables (Mark 4) Jesus offers us some timeless truths -- easy to comprehend, but difficult to put into practice. Pastor Rob relates these timeless truths to the new logo for our church, which is based on the theme, Rooted and Growing.
In a nutshell, there is a timeless truth that we are called into service of our neighbor (represented by the stained-glass like image of the world). Yet, the most important timeless truth is that God's love is poured out for us in the cross of Christ, which stands at the center, as a free gift!
June 10, 2018 Throughout Mark 3 people try to "tame" Jesus. They are wildly unsuccessful. And that is a very good thing.
June 3, 2018 Jesus loses his cool in Mark 2:23-3:6. Why? Because he sees the hardness of the human heart. 2,000 years later, we still struggle with our hearts being hardened. What about God's heart? ...and how does God deal with the hardness of our hearts?
May 27, 2018 Holy Trinity Sunday God is on a mission to save the world. And you have a part to play. Based on Isaiah 6.
May 20, 2018 Pentecost (with Confirmation of Youth) Pastor Rob reflects on the two things he hopes the confirmation youth will take with them as they are confirmed. For those unfamiliar with confirmation -- it is a time when youth who were baptized as a child are given the chance to "confirm" their baptism, to say "yes" to the promises of God and seeking to live as a disciple. A reflection based on Acts 2.
May 13, 2018 Ascension Strange as it may sound, the youth in our congregation often find themselves a religious minority here in Lancaster County. No longer being able to assume that my neighbor is Christian is a huge shift for our community and our congregation. This changes everything about how we do ministry. A reflection based on Luke 24:34-53 and Acts 1.
May 6, 2018 6th Sunday of Easter Cornelius is a Bible person you've probably never heard of, but probably would like to have as a neighbor. Pastor Rob reflects on our call as a church to reach out to people like Cornelius. A reflection based on John 15:1-8 and Acts 10.
April 29, 2018 5th Sunday of Easter Jesus tells us today that God "prunes" us of branches that do not bear fruit. What might this look like? Why would God do such a thing? It all goes back to our Easter theme: Love! A reflection based on John 15:1-8 and Acts 8:26-40.
April 22, 2018 4th Sunday of Easter "He leads me besides still waters." We hunger for still waters in our busy lives. How do we find this? A reflection based on John 10:11-18 and Psalm 23.
April 15, 2018 3rd Sunday of Easter After handing of chocolate chip cookies in the children sermon, Pastor Rob preaches on Jesus' eating after the resurrection. As simple as it seems, Jesus asking the disciples for something to eat is some of the best news in all of Scripture! Based on Luke 24:36-48.
April 1, 2018 Easter Sunday Every story is a love story. Easter is a love story in which love wins in Jesus Christ. This means your story too is a love story, of a God who loves you enough to die and rise for you.
March 25, 2018 Palm Sunday What is the fundamental purpose of life? In a strange way, the Palm Sunday points us toward an answer: To make a difference by serving the Lord. It also points toward a purpose that Christ has: To make a different world. The sermon reflects on Mark 11:1-11 and Philippians 2:5-11.
March 18, 2018 Fifth Sunday of Lent Abraham boldly prays to God not to destroy the town of Sodom (Chapter 18 of Genesis) This is a story to encourage us be bold in our prayers; the story also reminds us that God is not a genie in a bottle; not all prayers as answered as we would like.
March 11, 2018 Fourth Sunday of Lent Our God is a God who surprises us! In Chapter 18 God surprises Abraham and Sarah over and over until the point where they are laughing in disbelief and joy! Pastor Rob unpacks what it means for us that our God -- in both the Old Testament and New Testament -- is a God of surprises!
March 4, 2018 Third Sunday of Lent Everything goes wrong in Genesis Chapter 16. It is a total moral failure by Abraham (and Sarah!). What do we make of this - and why in the world would Pastor Rob preach on this? Hint -- there is a lot of Gospel deep within this passage. Note: Abram/Sarai and Abraham/Sarah are the same people in Scripture.
February 25, 2018 Second Sunday of Lent Pastor Rob addresses the fear we are all experiencing in wake of the shootings in Florida, reflecting on Genesis 15:1-17 and Mark 8:27-31. Note: Abram and Abraham are the same person in Scripture.
February 18, 2018 First Sunday of Lent Just as God calls Abraham into a spiritual journey, so to God calls us into a spiritual journey. Pastor Rob talks about the blessings and fundamental challenge of the spiritual journey that we are all on. Preaching passage is Genesis 12:1-9. Note: Abram and Abraham are the same person in Scripture.
February 14, 2018 Ash Wednesday Pastor Rob plays around with the fact that is year -- Ash Wednesday -- a day when Christians gather for repentance and reminder of mortality -- is on the same day as Valentine's Day -- a day when the world is talking about love and romance! Pastor Rob loosely riffs on Matthew 6.
February 11, 2018 Transfiguration Sunday Did God ordain the Eagles' Super Bowl victory? This was the question the reported posed to Pastor Rob. In this sermon he discusses this question but also the deeper question -- how do we know what God is doing in this world? The Gospel passage is the Transfiguration of Jesus in Mark's Gospel (Mark 9:2-10)
February 4, 2018
The people overwhelm Jesus with their demands. His response? To take time out to pray. When we get overwhelmed by life, we need to take time to out as well to pray. Pastor Rob explores a particular power of prayer -- the power that helps us say "No!" Based on Mark 1:29-39.
January 28, 2018
This week 3rd graders are given Bibles by their parents. (In our church, parents promise to place the Holy Scriptures in the hands of their children when they are baptized!) Pastor Rob admits the challenges of reading the Bible and offers some insight into how to dig deep into God's Word. Based on Mark 1:21-28.
January 18, 2018
This week Pastor Rob did a study on what the Old Testament says about immigrants and refugees. Warning: Whether you are liberal or conservative on this issue of immigration, you will likely not like everything I will say! There is an audio file and .pdf file with images and bible quotes. The audio file is a live recording of the evening study.
The story of Samuel may be familiar to many: As a boy, God calls Samuel. Three times, in fact! Each time, Samuel thinks it is the voice of his mastor/mentor, Eli. Finally Eli tells Samuel that it is the voice of the Lord, who is calling him. This part of the story is well-known and loved.
But what was Samuel told to say? Now begins the adult part of the story, of speaking the truth in love. (Found in 1 Samuel 3).
January 7, 2018 Baptism of our Lord
Right after Jesus is baptized, he is sent into the wilderness, where he must struggle against temptation and the devil. All too often we avoid talking about the reality of the "wilderness" in our faith lives. For many baptized and believing Christians, there are times of being in the wilderness, time of doubt and struggle with our faith. What we learn from Jesus' experience and the experience of other Christians is that the time in the wilderness, though long, is not forever. Based on Mark 1:4-13.
December 24, 2017 Christmas Eve
This year our national has fallen in love with Hallmark(ish) movies about Christmas. They feel good! The real Christmas story though is a bit rougher around the edges. In that vulnerability and roughness, we hear the angels proclamation: I bring you good news of great joy for all the people! This good news is for us, even in the brokenness of our lives. Based on Luke 2:1-20.
December 17, 2017 Blue Christmas
Pastor Rob offers a reflection on grief during the holiday season
December 17, 2017 Advent 3
The first angel to visit Mary is the angel Gabriel. This is a magnificent and holy encounter - one that even gets its own name "The Annunciation." What do we do this encounter that is so much unlike our everyday experience? Pastor Rob takes us a bit further along Mary's journey and suggests that angels don't always have wings! Based on Mary's travel in Luke 1.
December 10, 2017 Advent 2
"Prepare ye the way of the Lord!" We hear the word of Scripture calling us to prepare the way of the Lord, in our hearts, in our homes and in our communities. What does this look like? Based on (Mark 1:1-8 and Isaiah 40:1-11)
December 3, 2017 Advent 1
Jesus comes with gifts of peace, love and joy. December often feels anything but a month of peace, love and joy. How do we experience the presence of Christ during this busy month? Pastor Rob offers you three Advent gifts. Based on (Mark 13:24-37)
November 25, 2017 Christ the King Sunday Freedom in Christ: Freedom to Praise Part 6 in a Reformation 500 series
Hear the good news: God is judge! This seems like terrifying news, but as Pastor Rob explains and proclaims, this is great news! Ironically, viewing Christ and Christ alone as our judge sets us free to follow God's path in our life and live in God's mercy! A look at the parable of the Sheet and Goats (Matthew 25:31-46).
November 19, 2017 Freedom in Christ: Freedom to Give Part 5 in a Reformation 500 series We all know that being generous is good -- it is commanded by Christ, it is good for our neighbor and its even good for ourselves. So why do we struggle to be generous? How can our faith empower and enable us -- truly set us free -- to live generously. Pastor Rob looks at the parable of the Talents (Matthew 25:14-30).
November 12, 2017 Freedom in Christ: Freedom to Wait Part 4 in a Reformation 500 series On This Sunday we welcomed guest speaker Dr. Jean Godsall-Myers. Our Women of the ELCA group invited her to be their speaker for our Thankoffering Sunday. She has worked in Wittenberg Germany (home of Martin Luther) for both the US and German Lutheran church. She spoke on the theme of 'Freedom to Wait' reflecting on the Scripture from the Gospel of Matthew (Matthew 25:1-13) as well as the life of Katharina von Bora (Martin Luther's wife). Two photos are referenced in the sermon, you can find them in the Word Document file below.
November 5, 2017 Freedom in Christ: Freedom to Grieve Part 3 in a Reformation 500 series Our church celebrates All Saints Sunday today, a day that includes the remembrance of those who have entered the church triumphant in the past year. Pastor Rob talks about the strange and beautiful freedom we have to grieve as people of faith. The sermon is based on Jesus words from the Sermon on the Mount, "Blessed are they who mourn, for they shall be comforted."
October 24, 2017 Freedom in Christ: Freedom to Repent Part 2 in a Reformation 500 series Title option 1: A world in need of adults Title option 2: When will the reformation be over? Title option 3: The Reformation is all about Jesus Christ
500 Years ago Martin Luther kicked off the Reformation with a call to repentance. In so doing he drew us closer to the Gospel, the good news of Jesus Christ. Pastor Rob covers the whole Bible in this sermon.
October 24, 2017 Freedom in Christ Part 1 in a Reformation 500 series How does my faith in Jesus Christ free me to live? Pastor Rob launches a six week series, in honor of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, that is focused on the freedom that Christ gives us. Today we look a passage in which Jesus "frees" himself from a trap (based on Matthew 22:15-22).
October 15, 2017 United in Christ: Our Pledges Part 3 of our Stewardship Series
Most times Stewardship and financial giving to the church is framed in terms of a response to God's generosity in our lives. We give out of a response to what God has given us. This year Pastor Rob frames our giving in terms of our unity -- that we make a commitment and pledge together to the ministry to which God has invited us. The sermon is based on Luke 14:15-26.
October 8, 2017 United in Christ: The Body of Christ Part 2 of our Stewardship Series
Given the events in our nation and world, Pastor Rob takes us the question -- where is God in the midst of all of this, especially the violence and destruction of human life? Pastor Rob looks at Paul's letter to the Corinthians (1 Cor 12:1-12) to explore and proclaim how God brings us together as the body of Christ to serve, pray and proclaim even amid human and natural tragedy.
October 1, 2017 United in Christ: The Cross Part 1 of our Stewardship Series
In a divided and even polarized time, Pastor Rob points toward our unity in Christ. Specifically Pastor Rob looks at Paul's letter to the Corinthians (1 Cor 1:10-18) to explore and proclaim our unity in the cross.
September 24, 2017
What a difficult parable Jesus tells in Matthew 20:1-16. It seems to teach that hard work isn't rewarded. Pastor Rob reflects on how -- rather than offering ethical advice for the earthly economy -- Jesus offers us a glimpse of God's economy. In God's economy the currency is God's mercy, not our own merit!
September 17, 2017
Pastor Rob continues a two part sermon on forgiveness. Reflecting on Jesus' parable of the unforgiving servant (Matthew 18:21-35), we dive into what it means to forgive people, especially in difficult situations. Pastor Rob offers that the forgiveness we extend as humans, however good and difficult, is far less than God's forgiveness!
September 10, 2017
In today's Gospel, Jesus offers some very practical advice: When you have a conflict, go to a person one on one. (Matthew 18:15-20). In the age of talking heads and tweets, this seems more relevant than ever. The more we ponder Jesus' words though, the more we realize he is offering us life and hope, not just advice.
September 3, 2017
"If anyone wants to come after me, let them deny themselves, pick up their cross and follow me." These are Jesus' bold words of challenge that issues to his disciples in our Gospel story this week (Matthew 16:21-30). What does it mean to pick up our cross? In our busy world, the thought of picking up one more thing seems impossible!
August 27, 2017
What if the world is going to heck in a hand-basket? In our Gospel story this week (Matthew 16:13-20), the disciples are on the road to Caesarea Philippi . This town is Las Vegas meets Game of Thrones. It is precisely on this road that the disciples are called to confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. This is a confession of hope.
August 24, 2017 (Wednesday night Bible Study)
When I was in Wittenberg Germany this summer celebrating the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, I saw and learned my wonderful things. One of the sad things however, was learning more about the church's reaction to the Nazi state. While there are very inspiring stories of opposition, generally the (Lutheran) church failed to confront the Nazi state. I had wanted to share a bit about this chapter amid our 500th celebrations. The events in Charlottesville and media coverage about Neo-Nazis and Racism in America led me to conclude this was an appropriate time to discuss this. Rather than debate current events, I hope to offer a different perspective on church, state, confession, resistance and hope by examining the past. I offer my powerpoint presentation to help follow along with the notes as well as spur others along in their research.
Notes on audio file: We sing Beautiful savior near the beginning. If you want to scroll ahead, I am not offended!
August 7, 2017 Just like us, the disciples are overwhelmed by the problems of the world. Their way, all to often our way, is to give up. The way of Jesus is fundamentally different. It is a way of prayer, compassion and multiplication. We look at the feeding of the 5,000+ found in Matthew 14:13-21.
Sunday, July 30
Decisions, decisions, decisions. In life we face many decisions. How does God grant us wisdom to make tough decisions? Based on the story of Solomon and his dream, 1 Kings 3:1-15.
Sunday, July 23
What happens when we get stuck in life? Pastor Rob unpacks how God helps us turn the page the the next chapter of our lives, reflecting on Romans 8:12-26.
Sunday, July 16
Pastor Rob takes on the popular notion that our purpose in life is finding our passion. As Christians we find our meaning and purpose in following Christ as we serve our neighbor. Yes, this does relate to our passion, but not quite as the culture would teach us. Based on the parable of the sower found in Matthew 13:18-24.
Sunday, July 2
Jesus teaches us that taking up our cross means serving in humble and often small ways. As we live out Jesus' teachings, we discover God's power to make the ordinary into the extraordinary. Based on Matthew 10:38-42.
Sunday, June 11: Holy Trinity Genesis 1 and science often seem in such conflict that Christians back away from this beautiful and powerful passage in Scripture. In this sermon, Pr. Rob offers a look at Genesis 1. First, to see how science and Scripture intersect powerfully; and second, to learn what Scripture uniquely tells us about God and the universe.
Sunday, June 4: Pentecost The story of Pentecost is a wild one -- tongues of flame, large crowds, loud wind and languages of all varieties. What does this story have to do with our own? A special focus today is on the youth in our church who are confirmed and how they will take their place in the Pentecost story. The Pentecost story begins in Acts 2:1-13.
Sunday, May 28, 2017: Ascension Pastor Rob concludes his preaching series on Community in Christ. We tie it together by focusing on a central feature of the Christian Community: Joy in Christ. Indeed, the Gospel of Luke begins and ends with joy. But what to do when the world does not sing a joyful song to us? A reflection on the Ascension and Luke 24:36-53.
Sunday, May 21, 2017 Pastor Rob continues our preaching series on Community in Christ. This week we focus on the need to share the Good News of Jesus in a "marketplace of ideas." We learn from Paul how to do this -- and it starts with listening. Based on Paul's trip to Athens, found in Acts 17:16-34.
Sunday, May 14, 2017 Pastor Rob continues our preaching series on Community in Christ. This week we focus on the consequence of open hearts -- heartache! Loving our neighbor in Christ is not easy, especially those for whom we care deeply. A reflection on Mother's Day, Lollipops and Heartache. Based on Acts 7:54-60.
Sunday, May 7, 2017 Pastor Rob continues our preaching series on Community in Christ. This week we focus on an essential mark of the Christian community -- Open hearts! Hearts that are so open they lead to Open Doors! The sermon focuses on Acts 2:42-47.
Sunday, April 30, 2017 Pastor Rob launches a sermon series on Community. It is something we hunger for in our world. Christ offers us a place in the community called the Christian church. I begun our sermon series by focusing on worship as the central act of the Christian community, looking at Luke 24:13-35.
Easter Sunday, April 16, 2017
I just need it to be morning! We all go through long nights, long chapters of our lives in which we wait for the morning light. This Easter, as always, we hear the Good News that morning has come and Christ is Risen! The Gospel this morning is from Matthew 28:1-10.
Holy (Maundy) Thursday, April 13, 2017
Jesus begins to wash his disciples feet. Peter becomes very uncomfortable. Why is this? And why are we probably like Peter? It is hard to think of being served and being loved by Christ (John 13:1-35).
.April 2, 2017
Pastor Rob talks about real prayer -- as we are real with God in prayer, we discover who God really is. To get a real prayer, we focus on two grieving women (John 11:1-45)
March 25, 2017
Samuel, the great prophet of God, has lost his perspective on what is important to God and what is not. In life, even as faithful Christians, we can lose our godly perspective, missing out on the Kingdom of God!. Looking at the story of Samuel anointing David (1 Samuel 16:1-13) and Jesus giving sight to a blind man (John 9:1-42) we learn how God opens our eyes...and what this has to do with the two Baptisms at our church this day.
March 19, 2017
Jesus meets a woman at a well. Somehow, someway, Jesus shares the good news of his love with her. We can learn a great deal from Jesus about how we share the love of God with others, especially people who are spiritually dry. This sermon builds on John 4:5-42.
March 12, 2017
Nicodemus was a man whose life made sense...until Jesus showed up. This sermon builds on John 3:1-17 and is for anyone whose ever had their spiritual world suddenly not make sense.
Ash Wednesday, March 1, 2017
For Ash Wednesday, Pastor Rob reflects on the prophet Joel's command to "Rend your hearts." What does this mean? And why does this make sense for us to hear as we enter Lent? Pastor Rob offers that prayer is a way in which we can rend or open our hearts.
February 19, 2017
We hear Jesus famous and familiar words: "turn the other cheek." While they sound good, we all know this is a struggle to live this way. Pastor Rob warns against the temptation of watering Jesus words down (Matthew 5:31-38) for in them we discover the power and love of God.
February 12, 2017
We live in a world torn apart by anger. Pastor Rob reflects on Jesus words from Matthew 5:21-26 and Jesus' warning against anger. How do we live in and care for a world when "Anger Industries" seeks to spiral us out of control?
February 5, 2017
In celebration of the new pew Bibles and the giving of Bibles to our 3rd graders, Pastor Rob looks at Matthew 5:13-16 and proposes a way to do home devotions with the Bible. He employs 4 p-words: Ponder, Practical Application, Promise and Prayer. Note: This is not the recording from Sunday, but a later recording of the words for the website.
January 29, 2017
Power works much differently in the Kingdom of God than it does in the kingdom of the is world. Exploring the words of Paul (1 Corinthians 1:18-25) and Jesus, (Matthew 5:1-12), we examine what power looks like in God's Kingdom.
. January 22, 2017
In this Sunday's Gospel reading (Matthew 4:12-23), we hear Jesus call his to disciples to follow him. Pastor Rob shares the What, the Why, the How, and When and the Who of Jesus's call for us at St. Paul. Preview: Its about a great big net!
January 8, 2017 (Baptism of Jesus)
Do you ever get a case of "Januaritis" -- where you feel busy but don't feel like you are moving forward? Like you are moving but not making a difference? The cure of Januaritis is found in the waters of Baptism!
December 24 (Christmas Eve)
"Mary pondered these things in her heart." We come to Christmas Eve with much to ponder. What will we ponder this year? Pastor Rob invites you to ponder your life in light of the Christmas story (Luke 2:1-20).
December 11, 2016 (Advent III)
This morning's Scripture readings present us with two entirely different images: a confident and joyous Mary; a doubting and inprisoned John the Baptist. The life of a Christian includes both doubt and joy. Indeed, as we grow older, often our doubts increase as does our hunger for joy. Is there a way for our Advent to be filled with joy?
December 4, 2016 (Advent II)
This Sunday we hear the cry of John the Baptist, calling us to repent. Pastor Rob wrestles with repentance and hope in this sermon. (Note he begins the service wearing a purple stole and ends wearing a blue stole)
November 27, 2016 (Advent I)
December. Christmas. The busiest time of year! It can be such an exhausting time of year. How do we fill our hearts with the love, joy and peace of Christ and not just all the "stuff" of Christmas? Advent, Advent Wreaths and Prayer.
November 20, 2016
On this Sunday our church celebrated Christ the King Sunday. Before we focus on Jesus as a baby in Advent and Christmas, we remember him as the Triumphant King who rules for all time, having defeated death and sin. Today we focus on how Christ is a King unlike any other king or queen who has ever ruled on earth.
November 15, 2016
Pastor Rob did not preach on the election, however, he offered the congregation his thoughts on how to move forward as a church and indeed, a nation here.
October 30, 2016
499 years ago, Martin Luther began what would be known as the Protestant Reformation. In this sermon, Pastor Rob briefly reflects on the implications of the Reformation for prayer in the medieval times. The bulk of the sermon ponders how the Holy Spirit may again be calling us into a Reformation, specifically in how we pray.
October 23, 2016
In the sermon on the Mount, Jesus calls us to "Let your light so shine before others that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in Heaven (Matthew 5:13-16)." In this sermon, Pastor Rob reflects on the purposes of our life, both as individuals and as a congregation..
October 16, 2016
This week we hear the story of a man named Jacob who wrestles with God (Genesis 32:22-31). Our nation is wrestling with a very bitter and divisive national election. All of this on a Sunday in which we were hoping to speak about hope! Yet in the wrestling with this story from Genesis and even in our wrestling with election, we find our deepest hope in Christ.
October 9, 2016 Jesus heals ten men; only one comes back to give thanks! (Luke 17:11-19). Kicking off a preaching series on Stewardship, Pastor Rob focuses on thanksgiving, especially for the ministry at St. Paul.
October 2, 2016 Pastor Rob ponders the prayer of the disciples: increase our faith (Luke 17:5-10). This is frequently our prayer as we go through life's ups and downs. So where do we get more faith? To answer that question we consider how our culture's focus on a personal relationship with Christ means we often miss the communal dimension of faith. There is a great abundance of faith when we turn to the community. We explore the power and nature at this communal sense of faith by reflecting on Saint Paul's words in his second letter to Timothy.
September 25, 2016 Jesus tells a truly haunting parable, in which little mercy seems to be found (Lazarus and the Rich Man, Luke 16:19-31). While we will get to the mercy of Jesus, we first have to confront the basic problem identified by Jesus: Sin makes us love things and use people!
September 11, 2016 This week we hear one of Jesus' great parables: The lost sheep (Luke 15:1-7). The parable really isn't about sheep though -- its about the Good Shepherd who finds us when we are lost.
June 12, 2016
Pastor Rob takes a hard look at the story of David and Bathsheba (2 Samuel 11-12). David sins greatly. How does God's justice and mercy pour out into David's life? Into your and my life?
June 5, 2016
Pastor Rob talks about compassion, what this means and what this looks like in our life today. How does compassion guide our decisions in life?
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