The Eleventh Sunday after Pentecost A, August 13, 2023

The Lord himself enters the conversation. Job has been insisting that the Lord answer him, Job’s friends have been counseling him, and now the Lord comes to address Job directly… and the Lord’s voice is not comforting nor reassuring. Satan may have been the prosecutor of the heavenly court (Job 1:6ff), but the Lord himself brings quite an accusatory tone to his cross-examination of Job. It begins with the Lord demanding just who Job thinks that he is (Job 38:2). The Lord’s demanding questions keep coming and coming… chapter 38… chapter 39… chapter 40… chapter 41… Job can hardly get a word in edgewise.

Throughout Job’s conversation and counsel with his friends, Job has insisted that he will be vindicated… that his suffering is unearned… innocent… Job is confident as he insists that the Lord justify himself. But, when the Lord does enter the conversation, it is not the Lord who needs justifying but Job instead. The Lord demands of him, “Tell me, if you know it all!” (Job 38:18). The Lord puts Job in his place. By the Lord’s persistent and accusatory questions, he reveals to Job the limited scope of his human knowledge. When compared to the Lord’s omniscience… the Lord’s all-knowing… the extent of Job’s knowledge is as nothing… It is as if Job had no knowledge at all.

So, too, you. You who seek to justify your sin before the Lord… providing excuses rather than confessions… delivering up rationales for your very own wrongdoing… Only a direct confrontation with the Word of God exposes you in your sin, catches you out in our miserable self-justifications, and convicts you of your sinfulness. Only after the Lord brings you to abject humility, do you find yourself repented… turned from unbelief to belief… relieved of thinking well of yourself to thinking little of yourself but very much of the Lord who delivers you through Jesus Christ (cf. Jn. 3:30).

Table Talk: Discuss how limited is human knowledge compared with divine omniscience.

Pray: Heavenly Father, reveal my limitations to me that I might be repented into faith. Amen

Job 38:4-18

4 “Where were you

when I laid the foundation of the earth?

Tell me, if you possess understanding.

5 Who set its measurements—if you know—

or who stretched a measuring line across it?

6 On what were its bases set,

or who laid its cornerstone—

7 when the morning stars sang in chorus,

and all the sons of God shouted for joy?

8 “Who shut up the sea with doors

when it burst forth, coming out of the womb,

9 when I made the storm clouds its garment

and thick darkness its swaddling band,

10 when I prescribed its limits

and set in place its bolts and doors,

11 when I said, ‘To here you may come

and no farther,

here your proud waves will be confined’?

12 Have you ever in your life commanded the morning,

or made the dawn know its place,

13 that it might seize the corners of the earth

and shake the wicked out of it?

14 The earth takes shape like clay under a seal;

its features are dyed like a garment.

15 Then from the wicked the light is withheld,

and the arm raised in violence is broken.

16 Have you gone to the springs that fill the sea

or walked about in the recesses of the deep?

17 Have the gates of death been revealed to you?

Have you seen the gates of deepest darkness?

18 Have you considered the vast expanses of the earth?

Tell me, if you know it all.

The Eleventh Sunday after Pentecost A

With this challenge, Peter takes his place alongside Satan in the wilderness and the crowds at the crucifixion.  When Satan challenged Jesus in the wilderness, tempting him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down…,” (Mt. 4:8) Satan was putting his God to the test.  When the crowds, gathered around the cross upon which Jesus suffered, challenged Jesus, “If you are God’s Son, come down from the cross” (Mt. 27:40), those chanting with derision were putting their God to the test.  When Peter, in response to Jesus identifying himself and to Jesus giving him and the other disciples reassurance amid their fear… when Peter responded with his challenge, “Lord, if it is you….”  Peter was putting his God to the test; Peter took his place alongside Satan and the crowds.  And look what it got him.  Jesus gave him just what he asked and commanded him, “Come!”  So Peter did.  The text tells us that Peter actually reached Jesus but, as a consequence of putting his God to the test, Peter’s fear overtook his faith.  He cried out, “Lord, save me!” (Mt. 14:30).  And so, he was saved.  So, you… as you take your place alongside Peter, the crowds, and Satan in putting your God to the test… you, too, have a Lord to call upon.

Prayers from one who often takes his place in the company of Peter, the crowds, and Satan…

Father in heaven, you have given your Son all the authority of heaven and earth, place this truth in my ears and remove from me the temptation to put my Lord’s authority to the test so that fear will not overtake my faith.  For Jesus’ sake.  Amen

Father in heaven, you have given your Son all the authority of heaven and earth, as your Word enters my ears use your Holy Spirit to work faith upon me that I would trust my Lord Jesus as he wields the authority you have given him.  For Jesus’ sake.  Amen

Father in heaven, you have given your Son all the authority of heaven and earth, as the authority of Jesus takes its place in my life, grant me to trust his gift to me of eternal life.  For Jesus’ sake.  Amen

Father in heaven, you have given your Son all the authority of heaven and earth, grant to me some measure of usefulness in this old and passing away creation that I would contribute to its order rather than its chaos.  For Jesus’ sake.  Amen

Father in heaven, you have given your Son all the authority of heaven and earth, as I contribute to the good order of this creation grant to me the satisfaction of being a good neighbor.  For Jesus’ sake.  Amen

Father in heaven, you have given your Son all the authority of heaven and earth, grant to the Institute of Lutheran Theology the humility of witnessing to Jesus Christ, wielder of heaven and earth’s authority.  For Jesus’ sake.  Amen

Father in heaven, you have given your Son all the authority of heaven and earth, grant me the patience to wait for the manifestation of your Son in glory when he will openly exercise the authority you have given him over heaven and earth.  For Jesus’ sake.  Amen

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The Tenth Sunday after Pentecost A, August 6, 2023

Advertising tries to convince you to spend the money you have earned with your hard work on the product advertised.  The advertisement places within you a “need”—an anticipation—of having and using the product.  Most often, the reality is that the product falls short of filling the need or living up to the anticipation.

The prophet Isaiah is delivering an invitation from God that is the opposite of all human advertising.  The Lord is NOT trying to convince you to spend your money; there is no price on what the Lord gives you.  The Lord is NOT trying to create a need for something within you; what the Lord is giving will satisfy every need you’ll ever have.  The Lord IS telling you ANTICIPATE!  You should anticipate satisfaction from the Lord.

The thirsty can anticipate waters to quench their thirst beyond all their imagining.  The hungry can anticipate a meal to satisfy their hunger exceeding all other meals.  The poor can anticipate such delight that no amount of riches can acquire.  The Lord says:  “Incline your ear…” (Vs. 3)  Listen to the Word of the Lord so you can hear the promise and by hearing it, live in it.

Living in the promise is what living by faith means.  Living by faith means anticipating the good things the Lord will deliver when Jesus comes in his glory.  To live with anticipation means having hope in this certainty because we will not be disappointed. “Hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us” (Ro. 5:5).

Table Talk:  Converse about the power of advertising and compare it with the power of God’s Word.

Prayer:  Heavenly Father, hold us in the promise.  Amen

Isaiah 55:1-5

Come, everyone who thirsts,
come to the waters;
and he who has no money,
come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk
without money and without price.
2 Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread,
and your labor for that which does not satisfy?
Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good,
and delight yourselves in rich food.
3 Incline your ear, and come to me;
hear, that your soul may live;
and I will make with you an everlasting covenant,
my steadfast, sure love for David.
4 Behold, I made him a witness to the peoples,
a leader and commander for the peoples.
5 Behold, you shall call a nation that you do not know,
and a nation that did not know you shall run to you,
because of the Lord your God, and of the Holy One of Israel,
for he has glorified you.

The Tenth Sunday after Pentecost A, August 6, 2023

Jesus had just ordered these disciples to give the crowd something to eat.  In response to that order, the disciples protested.  They protested out their scarcity:  only five loaves… only two fish…  They implied the meagerness of the food in hand would prove insufficient for the massive crowd before them.  Jesus proceeded as if he hadn’t heard that word of protest.  He commanded the crowds to sit; he blessed the food; and handed it over to the disciples for distribution to the crowd.  There proved to be no scarcity.  The disciples’ protest proved unfounded.  Jesus provided abundance, not scarcity… and abundance extending to a surplus greater than the initial quantity.  So, too, you—today’s disciples of Jesus Christ—protest from the scarcity of this sin-broken world.  Jesus, however, bids you go forward, anticipating the abundance of faith, a surplus of provision delivered not from the scarcity of this world but the abundant life of the world to come.

Prayers from one who habitually lives from the scarcity of this sin-broken world and not the abundance of the world to come…

Heavenly Father, you pour out your abundance upon the righteous and unrighteous alike.  Grant that I would live from the abundance of your provision and not from the scarcity of my sin.  For Jesus’ sake.  Amen

Heavenly Father, you pour out your abundance upon the righteous and unrighteous alike.  Grant that I live in such confidence of your provision that I can pour myself out in usefulness.  For Jesus’ sake.  Amen

Heavenly Father, you pour out your abundance upon the righteous and unrighteous alike.  Grant that my neighbors benefit from my being useful such that they, too, come to know God’s provision for them.  For Jesus’ sake.  Amen

Heavenly Father, you pour out your abundance upon the righteous and unrighteous alike.  Grant me not to question the worthiness of those upon whom you pour out your provision but accept my role in delivering your provision for them through my vocations and callings. For Jesus’ sake.  Amen

Heavenly Father, you pour out your abundance upon the righteous and unrighteous alike.  Grant me to receive kindness from my neighbors as they deliver your provision to me through their vocations and callings.  For Jesus’ sake.  Amen

Heavenly Father, you pour out your abundance upon the righteous and unrighteous alike.  Grant that the Institute of Lutheran Theology receives your provision for it with thankfulness and gratitude.  For Jesus’ sake.  Amen

Heavenly Father, you pour out your abundance upon the righteous and unrighteous alike.  Hold me in your provision so that I live in the confidence of confessing, “Whether I live or whether I die, I am the Lord’s.”  For Jesus’ sake.  Amen

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ILT’s Assistant Professor Shares His Experience

Today’s News & Events is a message from Kevin Swift, an Assistant Professor at ILT, who attended our first Theologian in Residence event this summer during Graduation week.

“This summer ILT held its first Theologian in Residence event. I attended and am happy I did. I’m thankful to all who were so gracious to me during that week. I very much enjoyed meeting ILT board members and staff, touring the library, eating the delicious meals provided, and even having a couple late-evening drinks with Dr. Bielfeldt and a few board members. Those were all very valuable, secondary benefits.

The primary purpose of the event was the time to converse with and get the guidance of the event’s two theologians, Dr. Bielfeldt and Dr. Hackmann, to ask them about AI (a topic of the event’s theme) and any other topic that interested me. For example, I had time to discuss my current learnings on 20th-century theology with Dr. Hackmann and confirm that I was understanding the progression of thought in the early 1900s. I was also able to grill Dr. Hackmann and Dr. Bielfeldt on the event’s topic: naturalism, theism, and AI. Those latter conversations I recorded, and we’ve put them up on YouTube. I hope you’ll check them out and find them as engrossing as I did.”

Check it out here: https://youtube.com/playlist?list=PLOJSXCKR55l-DZmKlfyitK3RUpWdhJ9sI

Kevin Swift | MS
Assistant Professor

The Ninth Sunday after Pentecost A

These disciples of Jesus resemble nothing so much as students who want to please their teacher.  They have listened to their master bring knowledge to them beyond their comprehension.  Then, when the teacher probes their understanding, they answer in unison, “Yes, teacher.”  Their ongoing incomprehension is demonstrated during the post-resurrection encounters Jesus has with them.  Their failure to comprehend what Jesus had taught them demonstrates that they remained “untrained” for the kingdom of heaven (vs. 52).  During his forty days of resurrected life given over to them, Jesus remained their teacher.  During those days, Jesus “opened their minds to understand Scriptures” (Lk. 24:45); overcame their “doubt” (Mt. 28:16); rebuked them for their unbelief and hardness of heart (Mk. 16:14); overcame their fear (Jn. 20:19); and corrected them regarding the restoration of the kingdom (Acts. 1:6).   Yet, ultimately, the Holy Spirit bringing ‘power from on high” (Luke 24:49) brought them the comprehension they would need to bear witness to their Lord unto the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8).  So, too, for you.  You will not understand one iota of Scripture until the Holy Spirit brings you to stand under Scripture’s authority.

Prayers from one who feigns understanding while refusing to stand under scripture’s authority…

Heavenly Father, your Son Jesus Christ is the Word of God delivered through the words of God.  So use the Holy Spirit upon me that I would stand under your Son’s authority as it is delivered through the authoritative words of God and my preacher.  Grant this for the sake of your holy name:  Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Heavenly Father, your Son Jesus Christ is the Word of God delivered through the words of God.  As I stand under your Son’s authority, work faith upon me so that I rest in your faithfulness as relief from my anxiousness over my own lack of faith.  Grant this for the sake of your holy name:  Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Heavenly Father, your Son Jesus Christ is the Word of God delivered through the words of God.  As I rest in your faithfulness, let me not grow complacent or weary in the work of my hands as I deliver the goods of this creation for the benefit of my neighbors.  Grant this for the sake of your holy name:  Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Heavenly Father, your Son Jesus Christ is the Word of God delivered through the words of God.  As I deliver the goods of this creation, open my lips so that I would preach Christ as the one good of the New Creation available in this creation now.  Grant this for the sake of your holy name:  Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Heavenly Father, your Son Jesus Christ is the Word of God delivered through the words of God.  As my neighbors receive what they need for life in this creation and the next, give to them same contentment and rest I have received for the relief of their anxiety as well.  Grant this for the sake of your holy name:  Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Heavenly Father, your Son Jesus Christ is the Word of God delivered through the words of God.  Hold the Institute of Lutheran Theology faithful to the Word of God, Jesus Christ, delivered in the words of God, the scripture.  Grant this for the sake of your holy name:  Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Heavenly Father, your Son Jesus Christ is the Word of God delivered through the words of God.  As I await your Son’s manifestation in glory, keep my ears filled with the preaching of Jesus Christ and my hands set to useful tasks so that my waiting is filled with contentment and rest.  Grant this for the sake of your holy name:  Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  Amen

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The Ninth Sunday after Pentecost A, July 30, 2023

“Holy.”  What a word!  By one digital count of its use in our bible, the word appears 1,286 times.  We come from a culture that has long used the word “holy” to describe men and women, places and buildings, tools, utensils, and food itself.  Usually, the meaning of “holy” understood in such use is a claim on some special sanctity or relationship with God, the Father of our lord Jesus Christ— or whatever god.  This long common usage fits well with the work of consecration—the setting apart of something for use by God.  This usage consecrates men and women, places and buildings, tools, utensils, and food itself to make them “holy” and set apart for use by God.

According to the text from Deuteronomy, this long-standing common practice of “consecrating to make holy” is wrong… or at least our text calls it into question.  We on the human side of this consecrating to make holy are not the ones able to consecrate anything… making holy is a divine act, not a human one.  The Lord your God spells it out quite clearly.  After announcing the reality of the situation in vs. 6—“You are a people holy to the Lord your God,” the Lord continues by naming how it is that this people has become holy… holy to him.  The people have been chosen by God.  Not only does the Lord’s choosing of them make them holy but it also makes the people into their God’s most prized treasure.  No other tribe or people on earth are so prized.  This people, chosen by the Lord, holy and prized, possessed no inherent qualities which caused the Lord to set his love upon them (vs. 7).  They were few… they were slaves… they were in bondage to another (vs. 8).  Only their Lord choosing them in the midst of their unworthiness demonstrates the steadfast love and faithfulness of their Lord.

Table Talk:  Discuss how “worthiness” on the part of the recipient of God’s steadfast love and faithfulness stifles his choosing of them and his making them holy.
Pray:  Heavenly Father, choose me again and again that I may be holy and precious to you.  Amen

Deuteronomy 7:6-9

6 For you are a people holy to the Lord your God. The Lord your God has chosen you to be a people for his treasured possession, out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth. 7 It was not because you were more in number than any other people that the Lord set his love on you and chose you, for you were the fewest of all peoples, 8 but it is because the Lord loves you and is keeping the oath that he swore to your fathers, that the Lord has brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the house of slavery, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt. 9 Know therefore that the Lord your God is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations,

ILT Receives the Lutheran Bible Institute of California Library and Archive

This week the ILT Library received the remainder of the library and archive of the Lutheran Bible Institute of California from the Grand View University Theology Department. This collection consists of 32 boxes of books (primarily in the areas of Biblical theology, Lutheran theology, and Lutheran history) and 51 boxes of archive documents related to the life of LBI California and the history of the LBI movement across North America. These books will be added to the ILT library collection in the coming months where they will continue to fulfill their intended purpose to bring sound biblical teaching to congregations, pastors, and theologians from a Lutheran perspective. The archive will be preserved in ILT’s North American Lutheran Archive where it will document the role of the Lutheran Bible Institute movement in the realignment of North American Lutheranism for future generations of church historians.

In many ways LBI and ILT share a lot in common. The Lutheran Bible Institute movement – beginning over a century ago – was dedicated to the sound teaching of the Bible at a time when more secularized views of Scripture was becoming widespread. This same commitment is exemplified in ILT’s vision statement, “Centered in the Word of God and the Cross of Christ, ILT students will be grounded in the Bible, rooted in the classical Christian tradition, understand the contemporary cultural horizon, and think critically in the proclamation and advancement of the Gospel.” In the same way, ILT shares with the LBI movement a commitment to bring together the many voices of the classical Christian tradition from a Lutheran perspective in conversation and common cause. As Ray F. Kibler III, Ph.D. (former president of LBI California and historian of the LBI movement) wrote, “LBI was pan-Lutheran from its inception and expected each student and faculty member to remain loyal to the Lutheran church body in which they held their membership. But above this, they were to hold ultimate loyalty to all that the Bible revealed… LBI stood as a witness to renewal not only to Lutheran church bodies but also within Lutheran bodies,”1

We, at the Institute of Lutheran Theology, honor the generations of faculty and alumni of the LBI movement who committed their lives to preserving, promoting, and propagating the faithful teaching of Scripture, renewal of the Church, and the proclamation of the Gospel to the whole world. In receiving this trust, we renew our commitment to continue the path that they have trod. We give thanks to the Lord for the stewardship of the people of the LBI movement and ask his continued blessing as we continue that stewardship.


1Kibler, Ray F, III. “The Lutheran Bible Institute and the Augustana Synod.” Lutheran Quarterly 24, no. 1 (Spr 2010): 97–117. https://search-ebscohost-com.ilt.idm.oclc.org/login.aspx?direct=true&db=rfh&AN=ATLA0001782794&site=ehost-live

The Eighth Sunday after Pentecost A

Should we fear the reaper and his colleagues… the ones whom Jesus will send at the time of harvest to separate the weeds from wheat?  Resting on Jesus’ promise given us in our baptism, we can be secure that we are sons and daughters of the kingdom.  Those who should strike fear in our hearts are those who separate the weeds from the wheat prematurely.  These are the ones who discern that the field—that is, the field into which the Word of God has been sown—has weeds… has impurities… or, perhaps we should say has sinners… flourishing in its midst.  In their zeal to purify the field and protect the wheat (the righteous), the zealous would pluck out the weeds (the unrighteous).  Jesus prohibits such attempts at achieving purity.  He does so because these days are not the time for purification.  Purification will come at the time of harvest. (vs. 30).  Another reason rests upon those who would be “purifiers,” the ones who would purify prematurely.  They simply do not have the capacity to purify the field of weeds without damaging the wheat as well.  That is, the unrighteous “sons of the evil one” cannot be removed from the field without uprooting the righteous “sons of the kingdom.”  Just there is the danger we should fear:  that those zealous for purity would prematurely attempt to separate the righteous from the unrighteous.

Prayers from one who is tempted to be a zealous “purifier…”

Holy Father, you have sent your Son to be the Lord of the harvest.  Grant that I so acknowledge his Lordship that I co-exist with both sons and daughters of the kingdom and with sons and daughters of the evil one, trusting the Lord of the harvest and his reapers to know who is whom.  Father, be so merciful!

Holy Father, you have sent your Son to be the Lord of the harvest.  As I co-exist with all the others growing in the field into which your Word has been sown, grant me resistance to the temptation of being a purifier, prematurely cleansing the field of the “sons of the evil one.”  Father, be so merciful!

Holy Father, you have sent your Son to be the Lord of the harvest.  As I am encouraged against the temptation to prematurely be a purifier, grant that I am humble in the face of my neighbors’ sin, knowing that I, too, am a sinner.  Father, be so merciful!

Holy Father, you have sent your Son to be the Lord of the harvest.  Provide for me the companionship of others without anxiety whether they’re wheat or weeds.  Father, be so merciful!

Holy Father, you have sent your Son to be the Lord of the harvest.  Give me over to my neighbors as one who is useful in their obtaining of their daily bread.  Father, be so merciful!

Holy Father, you have sent your Son to be the Lord of the harvest.  Grant that the Institute of Lutheran Theology be a sower of your Word in the world.  Father, be so merciful!

Holy Father, you have sent your Son to be the Lord of the harvest. As I wait for the harvest. provide me with patience that I may wait upon you, Father, to establish the time of harvest. Father, be so merciful!

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The Eighth Sunday after Pentecost A, July 23, 2023

The Lord asserts his exclusiveness, no god but him.  The Lord asserts his almightiness, “Who is like me?” (vs. 7).  The Lord asserts that he is the “all-in-all,” the “everything,” or the “all things.”  In saying that he is the “first and the last,” the Lord sets a pair of limits—first… last… Nothing existed prior to him, the Lord is from the beginning.  Nothing exists after him, the Lord has no end.  This way of speaking, “I am the first and I am the last,” is a figure of speech.  It sets a pair of limits which then are used to encompass everything… all things… that exist within that pair of limits.  This figure of speech simply means that nothing was prior to the Lord, and nothing will remain after the Lord.  He is from “everlasting to everlasting” (Ps. 41:13; 90:2; 103:17; 106:48, etc.).   Abraham called upon the Lord, the “everlasting” God (Ge. 21:33).  When God speaks to Abraham of the promise regarding Abraham’s Son or his “Seed,” God speaks of making an everlasting promise (Ge. 17:7, 13, 19).

You might recall that the Apostle Paul references this promise… this testament… when he writes to the Galatians (Gal. 3:16).  This promise to Abraham… the “everlasting” testament made with him for a blessed Seed—that is, a descendant—is fulfilled as Jesus Christ.  Jesus Christ enacted the everlasting testament made by the Lord to Abraham all those many generations prior.  A testament—a last will and testament—goes into effect when the testator dies.  Jesus, God, died… the testament goes into effect… you are the heirs… the inheritance is the forgiveness of sins and eternal life.  In his Revelation to the apostle John, Jesus identifies himself by the same figure of speech used by the Lord here in Isaiah 44–“I am the first and the last” (Rev. 22:13).  The resurrected Jesus provides a final reassurance that he, the Lamb who was slain (Rev. 5:12), is indeed the Lord who established the testament and the God who died so that it would be enacted.  You, the heirs of the testament once made with Abraham, receive this inheritance, and enjoy its forgiveness of sins and the reality of life eternal with your God from everlasting to everlasting.

Table Talk:  Discuss how the span of biblical history takes place within this everlasting testament made first to Abraham, then enacted by Christ.
Pray:  Heavenly Father, grant me to enjoy my inheritance.  Amen

Isaiah 44:6-8

6 Thus says the Lord, the King of Israel
and his Redeemer, the Lord of hosts:
I am the first and I am the last;
besides me there is no god.
7 Who is like me? Let him proclaim it.
Let him declare and set it before me,
since I appointed an ancient people.
Let them declare what is to come, and what will happen.
8 Fear not, nor be afraid;
have I not told you from of old and declared it?
And you are my witnesses!
Is there a God besides me?
There is no Rock; I know not any.

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