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No Thorns at All

shekinah“Pray, then, in this way:
‘Our Father who is in heaven,
Hallowed be Your name.
‘Your kingdom come.
Your will be done,
On earth as it is in heaven.
‘Give us this day our daily bread.
‘And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil. [For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.’] [Matthew 6:9-13]

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

“When you pray, say:

Father, hallowed be Your name.
Your kingdom come.
Give us each day our daily bread.
And forgive us our sins,
For we ourselves also forgive everyone who is indebted to us.
And lead us not into temptation.’” [Luke 11:2b-4]

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

We are exploring the unfurling of a wondrous Rose, in our gardens of spirit, considering the Lord’s gift to our lives of the Lord’s Prayer. We have acknowledged that there are two iterations of the Lord’s Prayer. Jesus gave an “amplified version” to the Multitudes in Sermon on the Mount, and a much leaner version in the Gospel of Luke to the Disciples. We have noted that “thee, thou, thy” is a more familiar form in older English, than “you, your” as we use the words today.

As we look at the Lord’s Prayer, one phrase per post, today we will consider:

[For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.’] [Multitude’s Version]

This phrase is unique, in that it appears only in the Multitude’s Version. Not going to make much comment on this but to ask, doesn’t this make sense to you? When you walk, day after day… 1000 days plus, alongside Jesus Himself… do you need to be taught this phrase as part of your instruction in prayer? ‘Nuff said.

Second, there are “brackets” around this phrase because it serves as a “doxology”, a statement of dogma, an affirmation common to congregate prayer. Some manuscripts include these verses, and some do not. The discussions and debate among experts on the “historicity” of these words, for me, is not a strong enough reason to omit them here. I have no doubt whatever, that Jesus intends this truth to be affirmed to those who pray. So… working under the assumption that this is the right place for these words… that Jesus truly intends the Multitudes to conclude their prayer experience with this Truth, this awareness.

Now, as we watch The Father “pull this Kingdom over”, (* for once, WITHOUT any of us in the back being in trouble *) and our vehicle pulls over into the car park, we all disembark to stretch our legs and seat ourselves at a lovely little Tea Garden. The air is calm and quiet, the service prompt and courteous, the company congenial, and the surroundings are a delight.

Each of us, silently, draw forth our Roses and just gaze at their splendor. As servers bring coffeepots, teapots, cups, saucers and spoons, they also bring along bud vases, placing one before each of us. We place our Roses there, as yet we feel no pressure to speak. We just enjoy the moment, enjoy one another’s company, sip, sniff, savor, gaze, and Adore.

A breeze seems to spring up from nowhere and everywhere at once… not disturbing, not disruptive, but fresh and powerful, lifting all the Roses up at the same moment, assembling all of them in our midst as a giant Bouquet. The Bouquet turns gently, slowly, levitated above our heads in the center of our group, and all we can do is stare in rapt awe at the Beauty of it.

We know Who is holding our flowers, our Roses… and the Bouquet begins to glow with their own inner beauty, brighter and brighter until we are amazed that we can even bear to look upon these blooms. We hear, as from within the Bouquet, and yet in our own minds and hearts…

“Thine is the Kingdom…

“Thine is the Power…

“Thine is the Glory…

“Always…

“Amen”

The Bouquet, glowing with the radiance of the sun, seems to replicate and separate, dimming once again to manageable levels, and each of us watch as a bouquet drifts down before us. All the roses of each person’s bouquet, then merge back into the singular Rose each of us held, as that Rose rests again, back in its bud vase, even more beautiful than it began.

We each realize, the Kingdom is His, not ours, and that is good. The Power is His, not ours, and that is very good. And glory… glory isn’t an attainment, or heroism, or even recognition… “Glory” is Light. Pure Light. We each realize that all that Glory is His, and He has invested it in this Rose, in Our Rose… “And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power.”

There is nothing more to say, as we each look about and smile. Almost in unison, we simply and quietly say, “Amen”… and continue to sip our cuppas.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

This concludes our mini-journey tour of “The Lord’s Prayer”. Thank you for traveling with us. Please continue to enjoy your Roses.

 
 

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“Don’t TEST Us!”

Immersion“When you pray, say:

Father, hallowed be Your name.
Your kingdom come.
Give us each day our daily bread.
And forgive us our sins,
For we ourselves also forgive everyone who is indebted to us.
And lead us not into temptation.’” [Luke 11]

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

“Pray, then, in this way:
‘Our Father who is in heaven,
Hallowed be Your name.
‘Your kingdom come.
Your will be done,
On earth as it is in heaven.
‘Give us this day our daily bread.
‘And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil. [For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.’] [Matthew 6:9-13]

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

We are exploring the unfurling of a wondrous Rose, in our gardens of spirit, considering the Lord’s gift to our lives of the Lord’s Prayer. We have acknowledged that there are two iterations of the Lord’s Prayer. Jesus gave an “amplified version” to the Multitudes in Sermon on the Mount, and a much leaner version in the Gospel of Luke to the Disciples. We have noted that “thee, thou, thy” is a more familiar form in older English, than “you, your” as we use the words today.

As we look at the Lord’s Prayer, one phrase per post, today we will consider:

“‘And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” [Multitude’s Version]

“And lead us not into temptation, (but deliver us from evil.)” [Disciples’ Version]

* The Parenthetic “but deliver us from evil” shown in the Disciples’ (Luke) version, appears in the King James’ Version, while most modern translations omit it right here, noting that the phrase appears there in later manuscripts of this gospel, but not the earliest. I am including it because its inclusion takes nothing from the meaning or significance of these verses, while those who are deeply attached to King James’ rendering may find their absence distracting. *

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

We are drawing near to the completion of this mini-journey in time, looking at this incredible gift, this Rose the Lord granted to us, teaching us “how to pray”.  As ever, I am going to make every effort NOT to interpret or comment or read into the verses beyond some very basic observations… just to shine a highlight on the Rose in YOUR hands, so that you yourself can examine, twirl, ponder, and watch it unfurl as the Lord opens it before you.

As to the quick notes here, all the verbs are in that “magic Greek super” form. These are not “commands” or even just “petitions”, but in this form that both makes a statement and an affirmation, covering a wide span of time and circumstance. One interesting thing is that the word “temptation” more refers to a “test, or trial”. I was struck by that, because of how many people I know who think (and preach) that God is doing JUST that all the time… that His commands to us, His recommendations, are PRECISELY “tests”…. lines drawn in the sand to see if we have the “will” and “obedience” to “do what we are told”. (Ask a random Sunday School teacher why God told Adam and Eve to leave the Good/Evil Fruit alone… and see how many tell you He did it “to see what they would do, whether they would obey.” You’ll be amazed.) But here is Jesus saying that to pray properly is to affirm that that is NOT what God does… that in fact He “delivers”… “rescues”… not from “evil” (as some “ethereal mist of badness”)… but the word there is “the evil ONE”… an entity of evil. Jesus doesn’t specify further, or name… but the word isn’t for a “concept”, but for an “entity”.

OK, that’s it for me messing with your Rose. But this is a good point… a good point to pause… Look at this line, look at this layer of petals on your Rose, and keep twirling it for a few moments. Let the Whole Rose speak to you. Let the Whole Rose, all the lines, spiral outwards from the center to this outer layer. When you let it build, one line first, then two lines, then start again — first, second, third lines, then start again — first, second, third, and fourth… the Rose looks different every time.

Isn’t that amazing?

One Rose! The Word doesn’t change. God doesn’t change. He didn’t “tell anything different” to the Multitudes than He did to the Disciples! He speaks the Father’s words… He tells One Truth! But.. but… that Truth can resonate so richly and differently in and with us depending on which way we look, on what we are dealing with, on how long we’ve seen Him…

This Rose NEVER fades, Gentle Reader. It never wilts, dries up, goes stagnant. This will never ever be a “Wood Rose”. This will never be pressed in the pages of The Book, to freeze in time, looking the same in a shadow box on the wall. No… this Rose grows more lovely every day, and wafts that incredible fragrance afresh every time we pick it up.

Enjoy your Rose, Gentle Reader. It cost the life, and death, and Life of God Himself to place it in your hands. How awesome is that?

 
9 Comments

Posted by on January 31, 2014 in Quiet Time, Sermon Seeds, Uncategorized

 

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When One plus One equals One

Human Torch1“The journey continues. Another blackboard. Another piece of chalk. And the thought that Love is not enough. My biggest hugest bestest Love will always be too small for God. The Love of God is just way too big for my little brain.” [Paulfg, “Shouldn’t discipling be beautiful?“]

Paul put his finger on a spot that “itched” my whole life long. One of those things you want to scratch, you want to satisfy, for years and years and seem like you can never quite reach.

Jesus spoke these things; and lifting up His eyes to heaven, He said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify Your Son, that the Son may glorify You, even as You gave Him authority over all flesh, that to all whom You have given Him, He may give eternal life. This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.” [John 17]

But HOW? How do *I*… little, finite, human, not-too-bright… *I*… ever expect or hope to KNOW GOD? Are we KIDDING? And yet, this is “eternal life”, that we know is what Jesus came to bring us. Jesus is not a liar. He is not crazy. He does not “wax poetic” or exaggerate in an excess of hyperbole and passion. He means, and meant, what He said.

So… this bothered me… a lot… for a really long time… like 50 years or so.

But then, one day, Jesus fixed this. Well, Jesus, and Our Father, and the Holy Spirit fixed this. So I thought I may as well put it down here, that perhaps others draw something from this. Also, to thank Paul for effectively expressing the “question” well enough to allow me to pose one expression of an “answer”.

28 Therefore, since we receive a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us show gratitude, by which we may offer to God an acceptable service with reverence and awe; 29 for our God is a consuming fire. [Hebrews 12]

Imagine, for just one moment, that you stood in front of God, and everything was fine, friendly, loving, relaxed… just fine. But, for some reason, He appears in the form of a vast, incredible Fire! Not just physically large, but magnificent. Now, suppose you stood before Him, in His image, your own childlike size, but you were also fire. The Holy Spirit not only blazed IN you, but THROUGH you, such that (if you can imagine this), you yourself were a “person of fire” (maybe picture Johnny Storm of the Fantastic 4, if this helps?)

And all you can see… all around you… is just the Void… and you… and Magnificent God. And He is HUGE. Beyond huge, He is infinite… and you… are NOT. You, are just, you.

Now, suppose He stretches forth His hand, His finger, towards you… and says, in His gentlest voice, “Touch Me!”

And you don’t really know what to do. This is confusing. But He is quiet, He is smiling. He encourages you, saying, “Just stretch out your finger, and touch it to My finger.”

So you do that, you stretch out your finger towards Him and His. And you can feel the warmth of Him, the love of Him, and they are overwhelming. But you feel the warmth of you, the love of you, and you know this will not be painful, but you can’t conceive of what it WILL be. Nonetheless, you stretch forth your finger, watching as they slowly come together.

And then, there is but One. One fire. Like a match flame touched to a bonfire… where does the match flame go? The two are merged into One, but where does one begin and the Other end? Where are the boundaries when two flames merge?

There are no thoughts anymore, no boundaries, no questions, no answers, no ideas, no fears. There is only… the One… as the two have become One. You in Him, Him in you, no lines, no boundaries.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Later, can you describe that? Did you “contain” that? Did you “comprehend” that? Can you even meaningfully EXPRESS that? Um… no.

And yet, there it was. It happened. And you will never be the same. And you will never again worry about “containing” the Infinite. Because you will realize, when you ENTER the infinite… “containment” no longer has any meaning at all.

Yes, you always take that Flame back with you… and you will never worry about “how will this fit?” again.

Grace to thee — Little Monk

 
7 Comments

Posted by on January 28, 2014 in Quiet Time, Sermon Seeds, Uncategorized

 

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Who, Then, is Sacred?

Good Sam GlassIf you have read much of this blog, you know that I have come to the conviction that for me, in my conscience, “sin” has acquired a fairly simple definition. It could best be expressed as, “I ‘sin’ when I treat any sacred person or object, as less than sacred.”

Well, today I was riding down the road alongside a colleague, and shared a “strange thing” God showed me yesterday, that I had never noticed before. While reading through the tale of Paul/Saul’s conversion on the road to Damascus, God stopped me dead in my tracks at the words, “a very bright light suddenly flashed from heaven all around me, and I fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to me, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?’And I answered, ‘Who are You, Lord?’ And He said to me, ‘I am Jesus the Nazarene, whom you are persecuting.’ (Acts 22:6b-8)

And I tried to move on, and the Lord stopped me time and again… “No, Little Monk, you missed it… look again.” And so I did, over and over. Until finally the words began to light up for me… “persecuting ME“… I am Jesus the Nazarene, whom you are persecuting.”

It struck me how very strange… how wrong… this seemed. Wait… Jesus was already ascended. Saul never saw Him. Never spoke with Him. Never persecuted Him. Saul was persecuting FOLLOWERS, BELIEVERS… Saul was persecuting what we like to think of as “The Church”, an institution… a corporate entity…

“No,” Jesus replied. He WASN’T… He was persecuting PEOPLE. He THOUGHT he was attacking an institution, a corporation, a movement… he called it ‘The Way’… but he was helping arrest, try, convict, condemn, and execute PEOPLE. He killed them, trying time and time again, to kill ME.”

That was the breathtaking, heart stopping, realization here. “Me”… Jesus… King… Lord… not THEM… not Church… not movement… not follower… not even “precious child”… but “Me”.

If that were true…

If that’s what Jesus really meant in His cry to Saul…

If Jesus meant… JESUS… in Saul’s attacks…

Then… then…

Did that mean that when I offend another… when I attack them… when I injure them… when I belittle, or demean, or judge them… that it is not only THEM I hurt, but JESUS?

This was not a happy thought. I did not like this thought. I sought to push away this thought… and rather than help me with this, Jesus instead just “piled on,” reminding me of Matthew 25:31-46… that whole “Sheep-Goats-Judgment” thing, reminding me, “Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.”

Do you see it? Do you see it too?

Now, Jesus never EVER whines to or at me. But sometimes, not often, but sometimes from time to rare time, His voice will tend rather to ‘yodel’ with excitement or frustration, when He says something like, “WHY, Little Monk! Why don’t they see, why won’t they hear? I am PERFECTLY clear here… but even YOU are only now starting to see My words, that are and were perfectly clear for centuries. I am NOT being ‘figurative’ or ‘poetic’! I am not exaggerating… I am THERE… IN THEM… and yes, when you wound any, with your actions, attitudes, or words… yes, you wound ME! Any questions?”

“Nossir. No questions. I need to process this for a bit, though, if that’s ok.”

“Sure thing, Little Monk. You process away!”

And so I did. And so I have. It has really brought me to slow up a bit, and consider things with a much more wary eye. It’s rather like being in midst of a trip to the local five and dime soft-goods store, and suddenly finding yourself in the centre of a fine china, porcelain and crystal shoppe. Like suddenly everything around me carried “Fragile, Handle with Care” stickers on them.

So, in part of this processing, I shared today with my friend, my colleague. He immediately got the significance of “Me”, and himself mentioned the parallel of Matthew 25. I felt encouraged. He’s a great man, educated theologian, advanced degrees, senior pastor… deep and beloved brother to me. All that. I told him I was yet sort of “letting this soak”, recovering, letting all the pieces of my “deconstructed theology” and personal ethics, and he was kind, and supportive, and helpful… right up until he said…

“Of course, Little Monk, you realize… the Lord wasn’t saying that about EVERYBODY…”

*THUD*

“What? What do you mean?”

“Well,” he went on, “The Lord doesn’t mean that everybody is sacred… that He is in everybody that way… so it’s not like that offending everybody is always offending Him.”

And he started to discuss the theology of the “saved” versus the “lost”, the Children of God versus others, and so on and so on. I didn’t argue with him… dispute or debate. It is far too old an argument. I’ve been through it too many times. I could say only what Jesus allows me to say on all this…

“I know that John and Paul speak of these things in church composition and leadership and such, but I never see Jesus separate people this way as He walked, lived, served, ministered or socialized. I never see Him treat some people as ‘saved’, others as ‘lost’ (except sometimes when His patience wore too thin at the self-righteous, ultra-religious, and theologians)… I just see Him love, everyone, all the time, and serve them. I don’t see Him treat some people as “saved” or “good” (Nicodemus, the Disciples, small children, Zaccheus, the Centurion, Jairus)… and others as “lost” or “bad” (woman at the well, woman caught in adultery, Gadarene demoniac, 10 Lepers, Man Blind from Birth, man lowered through His roof). I just don’t see it. Nor do I see HIM ever suggesting such divisions in our relationships with people. He loves without boundaries. He seems to command us to love the same way.”

Beyond that, even if such divisions somehow EXIST in Him, *I*… not being the Holy Spirit… do not have privy access to that sacred space between a man and God… I cannot see the secret things of he heart… to know “who is who”.

Therefore, rather than “run the risk of wounding Jesus” in my carelessness or misjudgment… it seems my more prudent path is to treat ALL people as “Sacred”, and let God sort it out. Besides the fact that God fashions all as work of His hands, and upholds all things in and through Himself, by the word of His power… and that strikes me as “fairly sacred” on its own… so… yeah.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Anyway, that’s how we left that discussion (yesterday, now… I began this post last night, but I wearied, and went to sleep).

At 2:30 this morning, Jesus shook me awake, with a great sense of “having missed the point”, and brought this post to its rightful close. I was still sleepy, fairly groggy, and He woke me stark, cold, up… with the words:

“Who, then, is Sacred?”

I’d sat up, heard this… blinked a bit to figure out what planet I was on, what timezone, what day… “Huh?” I mumbled, articulately…

“Who, then is SACRED?” He repeated, even more firmly.

I groped for my eyeglasses, looked at my empty coffee cup, realizing my rest had ended for now. And said, as respectfully as I could under the circumstances, “What are You talking about, Lord?”

“That is the question you and your friend got to yesterday. And you didn’t answer it. You SORT OF answered it, but you didn’t get to MY answer of it. It is an Old, old question. It is the defense of all pharisees for treating some people as ‘sacred’ and others as ‘profane’. It is the same as Jews versus Gentiles, free versus slave, man versus woman. It is an OLD question, and has no place in Me. Paul dealt with it… I dealt with it… and now, when you were called to deal with it, you missed the ace… you swung but whiffed. You KNEW, you KNOW, but you didn’t SAY… not cleanly, not clearly…”

(* Well at least I now knew what we were TALKING about, as I made a fresh pot of coffee and stood there with my empty cup looking like Oliver Twist at the gruel pot. “Please, sir… may I have….?” *)

“OK, Lord. I hear you. I’m sorry. Now, what do I need to know. What ought I have said?”

And without further ado, He led me clearly first to articulate the question:

“Who, then, is Sacred?” and He left this echoing and repeating in my mind…

As He transformed it, transmuted it, into: “Who, then, is my Neighbor?”

And brought me HERE:

25 And a lawyer stood up and put Him to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” 26 And He said to him, “What is written in the Law? How does it read to you?” 27 And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.” 28 And He said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this and you will live.” 29 But wishing to justify himself, he said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” 30 Jesus replied and said, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among robbers, and they stripped him and beat him, and went away leaving him half dead. 31 And by chance a priest was going down on that road, and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. 32 Likewise a Levite also, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, who was on a journey, came upon him; and when he saw him, he felt compassion, 34 and came to him and bandaged up his wounds, pouring oil and wine on them; and he put him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 On the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper and said, ‘Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, when I return I will repay you.’ 36 Which of these three do you think proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell into the robbers’ hands?” 37 And he said, “The one who showed mercy toward him.” Then Jesus said to him, “Go and do the same.” [Luke 10]

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

And there ended the lesson, with these words:

“Little Monk, the pharisee, lawyer and scribe, who do not comprehend grace, will always seek to excuse their own judgment of others through trying to draw the fine distinction between who are SUBJECT to their judgment, and who is immune. It is a ‘loophole nicety’ that this lawyer tried to ensnare ME with, and you’ve allowed yourself to be tangled by. The answer, as you intuited, but did not see these verses as addressing is simply… ‘looking upon the needy with eyes to judge whether they are worthy of love’ is WRONG. To ASK the question is wrong… far before attempting to answer it. Sacredness… neighborliness… does not lie in the OBJECT of grace, it lies in the SUBJECT.

“The lawyer of Luke’s Gospel thought I would define whether the beaten up man was a neighbor or not. He was utterly shocked to find that God defines “neighbor” in terms of the GIVER of grace, not its recipient. The same holds true for Sacredness. YOU.. You choose… by how you treat others… ALL others… ALL the time… whether sacredness is your priority. You are the neighbor… You are the conduit of grace… You are the holy royal priest of the sacred. The person you serve, is what defines YOU as neighbor, or worshiper in/of the sacred… not the other way around.

“I… Myself… am ALWAYS there in and with them. Even to ask the question, is to have mistaken the answer. Just as for neighbor, so it is for Sacred. Never mistake this any more, OK?”

“Right, Lord. Got it. Sorry, won’t do that again. My bad,”  and I sat drinking my coffee as I let this sink in, and prepared to meet my friend again today.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Pray for me, Gentle Reader. Still so much to learn. Still making such simple mistakes! Lol. Our Father is so very patient with this frail and slow-witted child! Thanks for walking with me!

Blessings and Grace to thee — Little Monk

 
5 Comments

Posted by on January 28, 2014 in Quiet Time, Sermon Seeds, Uncategorized

 

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“Give Us This Day…”

Soda-Bread-1024x839 “When you pray, say:

Father, hallowed be Your name.
Your kingdom come.
Give us each day our daily bread.
And forgive us our sins,
For we ourselves also forgive everyone who is indebted to us.
And lead us not into temptation.’” [Luke 11]

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

“Pray, then, in this way:
‘Our Father who is in heaven,
Hallowed be Your name.
‘Your kingdom come.
Your will be done,
On earth as it is in heaven.
‘Give us this day our daily bread.
‘And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil. [For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.’] [Matthew 6:9-13]

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

We are exploring the unfurling of a wondrous Rose, in our gardens of spirit, considering the Lord’s gift to our lives of the Lord’s Prayer. We have acknowledged that there are two iterations of the Lord’s Prayer. Jesus gave an “amplified version” to the Multitudes in Sermon on the Mount, and a much leaner version in the Gospel of Luke to the Disciples. We have noted that “thee, thou, thy” is a more familiar form in older English, than “you, your” as we use the words today.

As we look at the Lord’s Prayer, one line per post, today we will consider:

‘Give us this day our daily bread.’ Multitude’s Version

‘Give us each day our daily bread.’ Disciples’ Version

I’m not going to elaborate on these differences but to say that these differences are real, they are there in the original texts. The phrasing of the first version seems to imply a “ration” or a “fixed quantity” of bread, one day at a time; while the second version uses a more “general span” term for each day, and a “variable quantity” of bread… sort of like, “whatever I will need day-by-day, whether that is more, or less.”

Again, the word “give” in both versions is one of those “magic Greek thingy” words, that cover vastly more than a “command” or a “suggestion”, both in time frame and in scope.

I shall leave you now, with this twirl of your own Rose, as I state that one of the coolest challenges Jesus ever offered to me was when He asked… “What if, Little Monk, you went through this whole prayer, instead of seeing all these lines as ‘petitions’ or ‘requests’… What if you saw them as ‘statements of what IS’? What if they were simply ‘affirmations’?”

It changed a lot of MY prayer life, I’ll tell ya…

Enjoy, Gentle Reader, and feel more than free to comment and discuss! Grace to thee — Little Monk

 
 

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Here and There… Now!

arcPray, then, in this way:
‘Our Father who is in heaven,
Hallowed be Your name.
‘Your kingdom come.
Your will be done,
On earth as it is in heaven.
‘Give us this day [e]our daily bread.
‘And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil. [For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.’] [Matthew 6:9-13]

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

This evening, (or afternoon, or morning, depending on what quarter of the globe you inhabit) we will continue exploration of Roses. Jesus left us the tremendous gift of “schooling” on “how to pray”. He shared what we call The Lord’s Prayer both with the Multitudes at Sermon on the Mount, and a leaner form of this prayer with the Disciples privately, when they asked Him to teach them to pray.

Unlike a number of Christian blog posts, however, this is not meant directly to “teach”, or engage in exposition of Scripture, as much as this is a reflective study, line by line. The post is meant to “set a stage”, place some background, set some lighting and positions… for YOU as “Director” to shout “action” and watch the scene unfold.

The line we consider here is unique in the Lord’s Prayer, because it is present in the Sermon on the Mount teaching, but totally missing from the instruction of the Disciples.

Your will be done, On earth as it is in heaven. [Matthew 6:10b]

It was mentioned in an earlier post, that it seems like the main difference between the longer and shorter forms of instruction, was not in “main ideas”, or major issues of content, but rather in “commentary” or “amplification” and description surrounding those main ideas. The Multitudes needed “specifics”… “What Father?”  “OUR Father, THE ONE IN HEAVEN”, and so on. Jesus, walking alongside His disciples 24/7 obviated the need for a lot of explanatory insulation of clear statements, His very presence defining His context clearly.

This line under consideration is unique in that it is totally omitted from the Disciples’ Version. That would lead one to conclude that this line is “amplification”, or “commentary”, rather than being a “key idea”. I’m really not comfortable to conclude that. This line reflects a DEEPLY key idea, but one that would indeed be so innate in the nature of relationship with Jesus on a day to day basis… that this could, indeed, be something He chose not to say to those He worked with daily.

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So, as I gently grasp this lovely Rose, this Incredible Gift of Jesus, Son of God Himself, instructing us… both Multitudes of those interested in hearing what He has to say, and committed Disciples… on how to pray… how to lift our hearts and minds and love to God the Father… some ideas arise. Thoughts unfold like petals uncoiling. And I encourage you to allow your own Rose to unfold in your sight, and see what the Holy Spirit shows you.

I should love to hear what petals, what patterns, what colours you find in your own Garden time.

One main idea wove throughout these words… and that word was “Sovereignty”.

If you’re like me, you hear this verse in your head as… “Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” I’ve not mentioned this before, but “THY” (the old fashioned pronoun) is actually DIFFERENT, subtly different, from “YOUR”. If you ever took Spanish, or French, or Italian, you may remember that whole “familiar” versus “formal” thing. There were words you used when you spoke to a close friend or family member (like those you’d address by their first name, or as Auntie or Uncle), and there were other words you would use in a more formal relationship (where you might use “sir, ma’am, Mr., Mrs., or Ms.). Well, English once recognized the same distinction, and in this ironic reversal of meanings… “thee, thou, thy” were reserved for the intimate and informal… and “you, your”, and such were for the formal and stilted. Prayer, was intense, personal, intimate… a matter between “He and thee”. Somehow, our language evolved around the reality, and the close family relationships retained in the “words” of prayer, got lost in the march of time in language. Nowadays, we often hear or use “thee, thou, thy” as indicating great pomp, circumstance, and formality… when in fact they used to mean the exact opposite.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

It has been difficult to write this post. This has extended across a couple days. My “difficulty” has been how to express this huge “taproot truth”, this great thematic fundamental statement, with its harmonics as it thrums across my spirit… without trying to sound “directive” for others. For one thing, this phase, “Your will be done,” uses that same interesting Greek form that encompasses many things at once.

Your will IS done, has been done, is being done, will continue to be done… etc. Along with, “Let it be done… It is done and covers me…” you can hold and turn this aspect of this Rose in dozens of ways, and watch the Light glint from it like sunlight through a prism crystal. I cannot offer advice or teaching on “what this means”, because my own mind cannot contain all the different meanings, all the depth of meaning, these words express.

“On earth as it is in heaven”… Wow. Just stop a moment, and LISTEN to that. No difference, no gulf, no veil, no separation… Just as Jesus said He comes to bring “eternal life”, the “life of eternity” into the here and now… here it is!

I can’t explain this, Gentle Reader. I won’t try. But Jesus demonstrated to the Disciples every day, the nature of His relationship with the Father, His authority, and His Perfect Expression of the Father’s will. As the Disciples’ training drew to a close, just before the Crucifixion, Jesus said straight out that He had manifested all of this to them… they had seen all of this.

To the Multitudes, at the opening of His ministry, Jesus simply makes this statement… that the Father’s will is, and will be, done in each moment here on earth just as it prevails in heaven.

Only word I know for this… Sovereignty… and, when you place these petals on the Rose among which they are nested, they embrace the listener, the pray-er, right in the big middle of God’s relationship as Father, His Kingdom and domain, and now His Sovereignty and authority.

See where these words, these petals, lead you, Gentle Reader.

 
 

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You Know I Love “Rules”…. Not!

This began as a comment in response to Following the “Rules”, posted this morning by Don Merritt on Life Reference. It grew into its own post, though it starts as a note to Don. I hope it edifies.

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“Rules”… one of MY favorite subjects, as you probably know. Fought them all my life, ultimately had to have rules grounded in the sovereignty and obedience to God. Only comparatively recently has He managed to show me their “positive” side… the “grace” involved in “Rules” and keeping them.

What’s “wrong” with Rules? Exactly what you have so beautifully observed… (1) lots of rules are touted as “scriptural”, despite the fact that scripture specifically decries them. (Romans 14, “not what goes into the mouth that defiles a man…”, “sabbath made for man, not man for sabbath”, etc. etc. (2) we mistake “righteousness”, scripturally defined as life in faith, as being behavior according to rule keeping. (3) We love to “keep score” because we can then proudly point to our “Report Cards” and say, “Look! Look how well I’m doing, how many rules I keep. I don’t… kill, steal, lie, cheat, injure people, I go to church, tithe… ” etc. etc. We love score keeping, and comparing our “A’s” to the “C’s” of other kids.

My heart rejected that long ago, when the Lord made abundantly clear to me that the only “Report Card” to which I was entitled to pay the LEAST attention was my own. From the time I was a kid, God set the simple and singular Rule in my life, to “obey my conscience”. That was reinforced again later in my training with the One Rule. I whined, countless times, both as a kid and later as an adult, about how “unfair” God was in this. “Why, Lord, do you require THIS standard of me… when… when… well, just LOOK! LOOK at THEM!!! What about THEM?? This isn’t FAIR!!” (ever been there?) And Jesus’ consistent response that, “Nope. I’m not fair! Aren’t you glad? ‘Grace’ isn’t anything LIKE ‘fair’. Now how you behave is between you and Me. How THEY behave is between THEM and Me. End of discussion.”

But FINALLY, really in just the past couple of years, God has been able to make some progress with me understanding the affirmative and positive value to rules. It is not that “God loves us more when we keep the rules, and loves us less when we don’t.” It has nothing to do with Him, with what I call “His side of the equation… He loves us, totally, infinitely, all the time.” But rather, when we honor “conscience” and “walk in the light, just as He is in the light”… we experience peace, joy, beauty, truth, love… all the elements and fruits of eternal life. When we defy conscience, the leadership of the Holy Spirit, we experience all the discomforts of walking in darkness.

You recently did a great series of posts dealing with the “intuitive” versus “counter-intuitive”. Some of us may use different terms, but I can admit in my own life that there are times when “I WANT something that I know is not right, or good for me”. I have a “natural” inclination, from time to time, to satisfy some desire, some appetite, that may not treat others as sacred… or treat myself as sacred. To yield in that desire may give me a short-term payoff, but later leaves me empty. Scripture speaks of things that melt like honey in the mouth, but then leave bitterness in the stomach.

What God FINALLY let me figure out about the “value” of “Rules”, was when I realized that I live a disciplined life, I “follow rules” without codifying them, and at times across my life I’ve been “subject to codes” to which I subscribed voluntarily and intentionally, not by passive cultural inheritance or because “that’s how we’ve always done it.”

God showed me two simple things about all this:

(1) In order to have the “freedom” to respond comfortably to urgings of the Holy Spirit in conscience, I need to be able to say “yes” to Him, and “no” to appetites contrary to His leadership. The more “free” I am, the more “indifferent” to “intuitive appetite”, the more “comfortable” I am in obedience. Like an ice skater, gliding smoothly from point to point, rather than trying to run zig-zag among orange cones touching flags.

(2) “Rules” give me an “external framework” for exercising my own free will to direct my attention and behaviors. Rules are like “training wheels”, that allow me to acquire skill and control over my vehicle, myself, without succumbing to gravity or other balance challenges I’m not yet skilled enough to overcome.

(3) Once I learn not to “kick against the traces” in a disciplined life framed in a voluntary covenant of rules, I can develop the self-control needed to respond to the much more subtle promptings of Spirit. In time, the need for “Rules” falls away. as desire moves into focus with God’s will in and of itself.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Bottom Line: I figured out that “learning to follow the Rules” (like coloring inside the lines), has eventually allowed me to develop the interior self control to “say ‘no’ to myself, or ‘yes’ to conscience’ regardless of momentary passing desire or gratification. The point is not to learn to color inside the lines for its own sake, but to learn to control the crayon… eventually to master the skill to create true Art.

Gentle Reader, I hope this post makes sense. But “Rules” were never my favorite things in Kingdom, and it really took me a very long time to see their value. FINALLY, I did… but only when I came to understand them as a “means to an end”, NOT an “end to themselves”.

Blessings and grace to thee! The Little Monk!

 
6 Comments

Posted by on January 24, 2014 in Quiet Time, Sermon Seeds, Uncategorized

 

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No Comma… His Kingdom!

Night Castle“When you pray, say:

Father, hallowed be Your name.
Your kingdom come.
Give us each day our daily bread.
And forgive us our sins,
For we ourselves also forgive everyone who is indebted to us.
And lead us not into temptation.’” [Luke 11]

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

“Your kingdom come.”

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Your mind’s ear may hear that the same way that mine does… as “THY Kingdom come.” If so, that’s fine. We are about a process that started with the Post, “Whose What???!!!” exploring what seems to me like a beautiful Rose. It is the gift of the Lord’s Prayer, first unveiled by Jesus at the Sermon on the Mount, later repeated in a leaner form as instruction to His Disciples on how to pray.

This little “mini-journey” into the past, into trying to “hear HIM as He spoke this” to both the Multitudes and the Disciples, is rather a “prayer laboratory experiment”. I am not trying to “teach” here. The task is not for me to take information, or even insight, garnered from my OWN prayer and experience of these scriptures, and communicate that information to you. The task is vastly more subtle, and more fun, to pick up and examine this extraordinary Gift in myself and my own spirit, make a few gentle and general observations, and encourage you to pick up and examine this Gift in your own spirit… and it will thus be different, look different than mine… and see where the Holy Spirit in YOU guides your consideration.

We are considering the Lord’s Prayer like the unfolding petals of a gorgeous Rose, planted by the Lord and nurtured in the prayer garden of spirit, where we have all the time in the world simply to admire it, watch it unfold, and marvel at its beauty. We are taking one line at a time, considering and savoring the experience, as we let the Spirit echo, reverberate, indicate, and whisper… like sensing the fragrance of this Rose’s perfume, letting the Spirit wash over and through us with whatever He would have us see and know.

This Post considers the line, “Your kingdom come.”

It has been a couple days since the line before was considered, because I have struggled… terribly… with “how to do this”. I needed to sit, ponder, listen, and take instruction of the Lord as to what to type here.

What’s the problem?

Well, for one thing… “God’s Kingdom” is a scripturally gargantuan concept. Old Testament, Gospels, Epistles, to Revelation… the Kingdom of God is a HUGE chunk of understanding, or even RELATING to God as Our King. I needed to sit still, get out of ALL THAT… theology… commentaries… word studies… (one day, you may want to go check out the distinctions between “kingdom of God” and “kingdom of heaven”… both generally translated in English Bibles as “kingdom of God”… lol… you have no idea!) All that “stuff” just tends spontaneously to “spring up” around the phrase “Your kingdom come”, like weeds seem to burst forth in a rose garden. I KNEW getting lost and entranced in and by all that minutiae is/was simply NOT what the Lord would have of this post.

Second, there’s Greek. (There is a reason for the phrase, “It’s Greek to me!”) This line of the Lord’s Prayer, and the one that follows use an unusual form of language that is very difficult to express in English. This post is NOT meant to be a technical consideration of exegesis (the fancy term for figuring out what Greek really says). To let myself get lost in that, beautiful though it is, would quite defeat the mission here. This blog is NOT a consideration of technical theology or the skills thereof. This is, hopefully, a simple consideration of Jesus Christ and His grace in the lives and walk of those who love and choose to follow Him.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

So there I have sat, Gentle Reader. Perched like a frog on a toadstool, asking Jesus for help… trying not to let my “cat herding nature” distract me into chasing a number of very enticing directions. He just said, “Sit! Wait!” And so, I sat and waited.

Finally, today, He answered. I did not expect quite the answer I got… but here it is…

Jesus said I should, “Focus on the comma that isn’t there…”

What? I heard it repeated. It reminded me of a famous Sherlock Holmes exchange between him and Inspector Gregory in the story “Silver Blaze”…

“Is there any point to which you would wish to draw my attention?”
“To the curious incident of the dog in the night-time.”
“The dog did nothing in the night-time.”
“That was the curious incident,” remarked Sherlock Holmes.

And then I understood. Here’s what I can tell you about “the comma that isn’t there”.

When I was young, learned this prayer, memorized this prayer, said and repeated this prayer countless times… in my heart and mind there was always a “COMMA” between “Thy Kingdom” and “Come”. As though it were a command. “Yo! Kingdom! Come HERE!” See? Not that I would express it in so rude a form to Almighty God, but much gentler… yet and expression of command, or maybe of petition.

But later, when I got into higher education and was sentenced to study Greek, I discovered an odd thing here. This word “come” is written in an unusual Greek form, almost like a “magic verb”, that can encompass all sorts of situations in the single word. Past, present, future… completed action, ongoing action… already here, yet coming. As I said, sort of a Mr. Clean Magic Thingy of words. (* tries to avoid twitching at flashback memories of Greek class… wonders if one can get PTSD from surviving Ancient and Koine Greek in consecutive semesters… hopes other survivors of Greek Class out there reading this don’t explode looking at this kind of description *)

Any… wayyyyyy….. (* tries to slide past this extremely sticky wicket with a minimum of stickitude… *)

What I want to suggest, as you look at and handle your own Rose of this verse, is:

What happens when we release all boundaries around the word “Kingdom”? And when we release all boundaries around the word “come”? And when we make sure there is no comma in the phrase?

Like, “What is a Kingdom?” How big is that? Is that a ‘territory’, or a ‘place under authority’? Can one always see the borders and boundaries? Does everyone living there always know they do? All that… any of that…. And the scriptural issues… Where is it? When is it? Is it after we die, out there, up there, somewhere? Is it wherever Jesus IS? Is it within us? Is it among us?

And what if “come” is just vastly bigger than we ever thought. Is it invitation? Yes. But is it statement of something done? Yes. Something happening right now? Yes. Something to happen in the future?

So many echoes. So many ideas. So many meanings… AND HERE’S the COOLEST PART! As God unfolds these incredible petals, one after another, they HARMONIZE like notes in a chord! It is not discord and confusion, but harmony and music! At least, it is if we don’t push or pull… if we just let Jesus highlight and unfurl the Rose.

Great phrase I read a few weeks ago… “You can’t push the river”.

God really marked that for me, especially about prayer and grace. Sometimes, you just enter the water to float with the current, knowing that God alone sets the pace. You can get in or out if you choose, but you cannot stop it, you cannot slow it, and you cannot push it. Once you’re in, you’re in HIS domain, and you can trust that He will handle that perfectly.

Enjoy your Garden, Gentle Reader. Grace to thee! – Little Monk

 

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Oneing

    Tree of Life at Gua Tewet (10,000 year old cave painting, Borneo, Indonesia)

Richard Rohr’s Daily Meditation

The Perennial Tradition

Oneing

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

The divisions, dichotomies, and dualisms of the world can only be overcome by a unitive consciousness at every level: personal, relational, social, political, cultural, in interreligious dialogue, and spirituality in general. This is the unique and central job of healthy religion (re-ligio = to re-ligament!). A transformed person unites all within himself or herself, so they can then do the same in the outer world.

My favorite Christian mystic, Lady Julian of Norwich (1342-1416), used the Old English term “oneing” to describe what happens between God and the soul. As Julian put it, “By myself I am nothing at all, but in general, I am in the oneing of love. For it is in this oneing that the life of all people exists” (Showings, 9). She also says, “The love of God creates in us such a oneing that when it is truly seen, no person can separate themselves from another person” (65), and “In the sight of God all humans are oned, and one person is all people and all people are one person” (51).

This is the perennial tradition. Our job is not to discover it, but only to retrieve what has been discovered—and enjoyed—again and again, in the mystics and saints of all religions.

As Jesus put it in his great final prayer: “I pray that all may be one” (John 17:21).

Adapted from Oneing, “The Perennial Tradition,”  Vol. 1 No. 1, pp. 12, 14

Gateway to Silence:
That all may be one

 
4 Comments

Posted by on January 21, 2014 in Quiet Time, Sermon Seeds, Uncategorized

 

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Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus…

GodThrone“SANCTUS, Sanctus, Sanctus, Dominus Deus Sabaoth. Pleni sunt caeli et terra gloria tua. Hosanna in excelsis. Benedictus qui venit in nomine Domini. Hosanna in excelsis”

HOLY, holy, holy, Lord God of hosts. Heaven and earth are full of Thy glory. Hosanna in the highest. Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest.”.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

What is God’s Name?

We are taking a short journey into the past, looking at how Jesus taught people to pray. No one who has ever walked the earth is more qualified to teach this lesson. Here is a prayer that, as Christians, we learn from our earliest years. Many of us recite it daily as The Lord’s Prayer. Many of us hear and recite it weekly as part of our order of worship. I venture to guess, ALL of us, here reading, KNOW it.

But for several weeks, in my own life, the Lord has returned me to this… this… Marvel. This “Singularity” in the cosmos. He has placed it on a pedestal, like a precious stone in a museum, and shone a brilliant light upon it, bringing me to focus upon these few and simple lines as being one of the most extraordinary gifts He has ever granted to man. It has become like a Rose in the garden of my spirit, slowly, gradually, and beautifully unfolding before me. And I have invited you, Gentle Reader, to find this Rose anew… Your Rose… anew in your own garden, and examine yours as I examine mine.

He granted this Gift, the Lord’s Prayer, in two different forms to us. One rendering was for the Multitudes in the Sermon on the Mount. This form has more words to it, more of a “setting to the gem”.

“Pray, then, in this way:

Our Father who is in heaven,
Hallowed be Your name.
10 ‘Your kingdom come.
Your will be done,
On earth as it is in heaven.
11 ‘Give us this day our daily bread.
12 ‘And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 ‘And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil. [For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.’] [Matthew 6]

The other rendering was the direct response to His Disciples request that He “teach them to pray”. This second form is more stark, fewer words, more directive, less explanatory. Why should He waste words on explanations and commentary, when there He was, 24/7, DEMONSTRATING the context for them?

“When you pray, say:

Father, hallowed be Your name.
Your kingdom come.
Give us each day our daily bread.
And forgive us our sins,
For we ourselves also forgive everyone who is indebted to us.
And lead us not into temptation.’” [Luke 11]

In our little process of Lectio Divina here, slow and prayerful reading, allowing time and silence for the Spirit to speak and teach, we will only highlight one phrase. This phrase appears in both versions, and thus it is a “critical instruction” of Jesus teaching on prayer, not a matter of amplification or commentary truth.

“Hallowed be Your name.”

Jesus has just “named God” for His listeners, telling us “how to address Holy God”, and there is no way around the fact that the shock must have been beyond imagining. The Name of God was considered SO sacred, SO holy, that it was not to be spoken or written. It was written in “code” only, a four letter acronym of what God spoke to Moses from the Burning Bush. It was spoken only as “The Lord”. Even in English, in English Bibles, the custom has remained of translating this notation simply as “The Lord”, rather than “Yahweh” (pronunciation of YHWH, the Tetragrammaton acronym of “I AM WHO AM”.)

Like pronouncing the name of “Voldemort” in the Harry Potter stories, and the insistence of most of referring to him only as “The Dark Lord”… even to pronounce these syllables was to invite destruction and wrath.

And then here’s Jesus saying, of all things, “when you speak to Almighty God, you address Him as ‘Dad’, as you would in your home…” Somehow I just see multitudes of listeners standing or sitting there blinking in utter shock, trying even to process the words!

But He goes on, immediately with, “Hallowed be Your Name”…

As earlier, as I sense His leadership throughout this little trip, Gentle Reader, I am NOT going to detail all the nooks and crannies these words have carried me to in spirit. I leave you and the Holy Spirit to explore on your own.

But here’s just a thought or two, a question or two. “Hallowed… Holy… Name of God…” But for myself, for so many years, I could only see “Holy” as an adjective, or an adverb. It was a modifier. It gave some quality, some description, to a noun. The Noun was meaningful and central, the adjective just helpful and descriptive. Hmm? So… “God’s Name has a holy and sacred quality or nature.” Right? That’s what Jesus was saying here, right?

Well, yes. That is very true. But many years later, one day, He challenged… “What if those weren’t just ‘adjective’, but Noun?” That is, what if Jesus was saying that God’s NAME…. was “HOLY”… like “I AM WHO AM”… or “LOVE”… or “FATHER”… or any of the other names we know of God? And what if ALL names, this one included, are all Infinitely Equal and Correct and Expressive of God? That is… God = Love, Love = God, God = Holy, Holy = God, Love = Holy, Holy = Love, and so on? Really gave me pause for quite a while. That was one thought.

The other thought, or question I would leave with you… “What if ‘Father/Dad = Holy”? What if that all encompassing, protective, providing, nurturing, raising-up-a-prince-or-princess-of-Kingdom Love… is ‘Holy’?” What if it is part of the essence of God’s very Holiness, that He loves us as His children? What if it is His love for Children that empowers His essence as Father, and Father is His Holy Name? That probably makes no semantic sense, and I’ll just stop there.

Just see where your Rose unfolds now for you. And I rejoice in that, wherever it leads and whatever it looks like.

Grace to thee, beloved brother or sister. — The Little Monk

 
 

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