Giving Up Giving Something Up For Lent

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72 Responses

  1. Michael says:

    No…I did.
    Why?

  2. I think it is important to remember that Lent emphasizes Christ’s obedience to the Father in going to the cross FOR YOU, not your obedience to Christ by climbing onto a cross for Him. (many folks have this backwards)

    I observe Lent every year but I alternate years of ‘giving up something for Lent’ – just to keep my freedom in Christ to do or not do. This is an off year.

  3. Andrew says:

    I went into the convenience store today and saw this smudge on this guys forehead. First thought that came to my mind was that this guy took the mark of the beast. Then I realized that was kind of silly and thought that maybe he was plumber and just got some dirt on his face and forgot to wash. It wasn’t until later that I realized it vaguely resembled a cross and it must be ash Wednesday. Anyhow, I hope it means something personal to the guy. I have no way to tell. I mean no offense, its just I really didn’t have a clue why this guy had this smudge on his head.

  4. Michael says:

    I only wish I could write like Sarah…

  5. Michael,
    I probably just put the wrong emphasis on your statement that you were not celebrating Lent. Based on your Things I Think comment I figured it wouldn’t even warrant an article …

    No one ‘celebrates Lent – it is observed … so I figured perhaps Sarah had written the article to emphasize a point.

    My error 😉

  6. Andrew, for people who deny that God works through physical means in this world, it probably does seem strange.

  7. Andrew says:

    MLD, I don’t deny God works through physical means so have no idea why you saying this to me.

  8. Paige says:

    Michael….great article…thank you….

    is ‘someone’ just a tad grumpy this morning :-\ sheesh. pick pick pick

    I may actually visit a local conservative Lutheran church today for the Ash service…

    Like you, I feel like I’ve already ‘given up’ most everything…couldn’t think of what’s left, asked God, no answer yet….. and like you, hold on to what surrounds me with an open hand, knowing full well, that any or all of it, including my own life, could vanish at any time.
    I am a sinner, yet a new creation in Christ. My only Hope.

    God bless you Michael.

  9. Andrew says:

    Observance of Lent is not something I have ever done or to be frank even familiar with. Its not that I am against it. It appears to be based on tradition and not anything in scripture that I am aware of. That doesn’t make it right or wrong in my opinion. I am not judging those that observe it or denying that God may use it. I’m just not familiar with it. However, I don’t feel getting ashes placed on your forehead is something that Jesus or anyone else in the Bible ordained as an ordinance to follow. But to make a comment that I deny that God uses physical means is so far off in left field that I don’t even know where to start.

  10. J.U. says:

    I have little as regards the treasures of this world. Yet I am rich. I do have a roof over my head and I don’t lack for a meal at home or out. I have a computer and a phone that let me communicate with other believers.

    I have school and work. (Yes, this 67 year old man is in school.) I have those I love, on this blog and elsewhere, and some who love me, or at least like or maybe just tolerate me. 🙂

    I’m crippled in my hands. I have been for about forty years. But I can still function and read and write and earn a living. There isn’t even much pain from the affliction, so I don’t want to trade places with anyone else.

    I have a Savior who gave His life for me and I have a promise of paradise when I leave this world. I’m not in a hurry to go. As I said, I’ve got it pretty good here.

    So I approach this season of expectations with a happy heart. That’s the one thing I would pray for all of you. That you also have a happy heart in your certain belief. For a man or woman who has faith has something that can’t be lost in the stock market or lost if they lose their job or even lost if they lose their life. God bless.

  11. Andrew, I apologize and rescind my comment. Most people I speak with here do not agree that God uses the waters of baptism mixed with his word to actually save people. Most people here deny that Jesus himself has physically entered the bread and the wine in order to deliver forgiveness to people.

    So, if that is your position, then great!! 🙂

  12. Xenia says:

    Michael, you do not understand Lent.

  13. Andrew says:

    MLD,

    Your apology accepted. I don’t want to get into a discussion on baptism or communion else we will derail this topic. Suffice it to say, I do believe both baptism and communion are ordained by God and hence are categorically different than getting ashes put on your head. I suspect we differ exactly how that works out but we can save that topic for another blog post.

  14. Josh Hamrick says:

    1. I agree with Michael.

    2. I agree with Xenia, I do not understand Lent. Wasn’t brought up in that tradition, and just can’t add it at this point in my life.

    3. Good words, J.U. !

  15. Paige says:

    Amen to J.U.’s #11 comments…..

  16. I said on a previous thread that I look at Lent beginning when Jesus turned his face towards Jerusalem and told his disciples that he must go and die.

    I look at Lent as our walk with Jesus towards his death. After 7 weeks, you are ready for the Resurrection.

  17. dusty says:

    been colder here than it is in Alaska all winter……oh well

    Good morning! ((((((((((big HUGS)))))))))))))))))))))

  18. Andrew says:

    MLD, What does the ash stand for or mean on Ash Wednesday? I am not familiar with it at all.

  19. JoelG says:

    Amen Michael

    I say give up Lent for Lent 😉

  20. Great comments so far…thank you for the kind words.
    The hackers have managed to lock me out of my own blog, so I’ll be busy for a bit…

  21. Michael says:

    Xenia,

    You may well be right.
    What am I missing and what benefit is there to observing Lent?

  22. Michael says:

    Good morning, Dusty!

  23. Paige says:

    DUSTY! Keep warm!

  24. Bob says:

    Lent, I like, but the idea but “Fat Tuesday” has always ruined it for me.

    I guess I need an explanation about how one can dive into the deepest pit of debauchery and then go to the priest for a blessing and mark the next day. It just seems wrong at any level.

    Maybe someone can shed some historical light on the traditions.

  25. “I guess I need an explanation about how one can dive into the deepest pit of debauchery and then go to the priest for a blessing and mark the next day. It just seems wrong at any level.”

    It happened when our religion became accounting.

  26. Michael says:

    From CT:

    “Lent is one of the oldest observations on the Christian calendar. Like all Christian holy days and holidays, it has changed over the years, but its purpose has always been the same: self-examination and penitence, demonstrated by self-denial, in preparation for Easter. Early church father Irenaus of Lyons (c.130-c.200) wrote of such a season in the earliest days of the church, but back then it lasted only two or three days, not the 40 observed today.

    In 325, the Council of Nicea discussed a 40-day Lenten season of fasting, but it’s unclear whether its original intent was just for new Christians preparing for Baptism, but it soon encompassed the whole Church.

    How exactly the churches counted those 40 days varied depending on location. In the East, one only fasted on weekdays. The western church’s Lent was one week shorter, but included Saturdays. But in both places, the observance was both strict and serious. Only one meal was taken a day, near the evening. There was to be no meat, fish, or animal products eaten.

    Until the 600s, Lent began on Quadragesima (Fortieth) Sunday, but Gregory the Great (c.540-604) moved it to a Wednesday, now called Ash Wednesday, to secure the exact number of 40 days in Lent—not counting Sundays, which were feast days. Gregory, who is regarded as the father of the medieval papacy, is also credited with the ceremony that gives the day its name. As Christians came to the church for forgiveness, Gregory marked their foreheads with ashes reminding them of the biblical symbol of repentance (sackcloth and ashes) and mortality: “You are dust, and to dust you will return” (Gen 3:19).

    By the 800s, some Lenten practices were already becoming more relaxed. First, Christians were allowed to eat after 3 p.m. By the 1400s, it was noon. Eventually, various foods (like fish) were allowed, and in 1966 the Roman Catholic church only restricted fast days to Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. It should be noted, however, that practices in Eastern Orthodox churches are still quite strict.

    Though Lent is still devoutly observed in some mainline Protestant denominations (most notably for Anglicans and Episcopalians), others hardly mention it at all. However, there seems to be potential for evangelicals to embrace the season again. “

  27. Michael,
    “What am I missing and what benefit is there to observing Lent?”

    What BENEFIT do you actually get out of your own observation of Easter … aside from the warm fuzzies?

    It’s one of those “you have to be there” as a discipline – taking your life through the church calendar.

  28. JoelG says:

    “In 325, the Council of Nicea discussed a 40-day Lenten season of fasting,”

    To me the whole concept of Lent seems to contradict these words of Jesus:

    “Be careful not to display your righteousness merely to be seen by people. Otherwise you have no reward with your Father in heaven……. ….. When you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to others when you are fasting, but only to your Father who is in secret. And your Father, who sees in secret, will reward you.”

    Is this wrong?

  29. Bob,
    Everyone’s everyday life is Fat Tuesday compared to how the Lord would have us live. We can’t help ourselves, hence we need confession and absolution – we need Jesus.

  30. “Be careful not to display your righteousness merely to be seen by people.

    If this is what people are doing (displaying their righteousness) then yes they are guilty. If it is a discipline and an offering to God … no.

    Is this any different than the people who raise their hands in church – is that not displaying their righteousness before other people?

  31. JoelG says:

    Ok I see MLD thanks

  32. Xenia says:

    Lent is observed differently among the Roman Catholics, the Orthodox (all kinds), the Anglicans and the Lutherans. The Orthodox do not have the custom of Mardi Gras, for the very reason Bob gave. We don’t have Ash Wednesday, either. Instead, we have Forgiveness Vespers, which I described here a few days ago. Both Ash Wed. and Forgiveness Vespers are about repentance, so the idea is the same for both. (I say this not knowing much about Ash Wed so if I am mistaken, MLD can correct me.)

    Lent is an integral part of the Church calendar. For three weeks before Lent we have Gospel readings about repentance: the Sunday of the Publican and the Pharisee, the Sunday of the Prodigal Son, the Sunday of the Last Judgment. The first week of Lent (now) for the first 4 evenings we have the Canon of Saint Andrew of Crete, a long poem where each Bible character is examined in the light of “Cain was a murderer but I am worse than him” and “Job bore his afflictions but I am not able.” “Have mercy on me oh God, have mercy on me” is the refrain. All flowers are removed from the Church and the vestments are now black. The hymns are all in a minor key. We do many, many prostrations.

    So you can see that we are being prepared to enter into a time of personal reflection, a gloomy yet joyful time when we internalize exactly why it is that we need a Savior. Lent has been called a joyful sorrow. Sorrow for our sins, joy for our salvation.

    The food thing…. to tell you the truth, the longer I am Orthodox, the less significance this part has. My husband and I probably keep the food rule more strictly each year but it is the interior struggles, the prayers, the charity for our brothers and sisters than have begun to take more prominence. And this is exactly how it should be! Physical training first and the rest should follow. Being vegan for seven weeks starts the process of jerking us out of the world but it is not the goal. It serves to remind us that we are not in ordinary time but in a special time.

    For me, Lent is like entering a doorway into a differnt world, a world of stillness where I can hear God. Outside is the noisy bright gaudy world where I normally live (and to which I must return eventually) but inside there is only God. It is an intense, beautiful time. It’s like living in an alternative universe at times.

    The idea of choosing to “give something up for Lent” is not Orthodox. We don’t say “I am going to give up candy bars and Facebook for Lent” and that’s it. Since that’s the impression most people have of Lent, I can understand why it seems rather silly.

    Not observing Lent is not a sin, by the way. But consider: St. Paul says we must run the race to obtain the prize. If we were running a physical race, say, a marathon, would we not prepare ourselves? Wouldn’t we eat special food, exercise, and prepare ourselves mentally? Why take such care for a physical race and not take care for a more important race, our Christian life?

    The practice of Lent is very old. I am reading through St. John Chrysostom’s homilies on Genesis, which he gave every day for the first few weeks of Lent. This was in the 4th century. I am inclined to take seriously something that the Church has found valuable for so many centuries.

    And I’ll end with this: People will say to me “So, do you think God will love you more if you keep Lent?” And the answer is, “No, but I hope I will come to love God more by the end of it.”

    I am only describing EO Lent; I don’t know much about the other traditions.

  33. Michael says:

    Xenia,

    Very well said…

  34. Andy says:

    I won’t be doing any lent. If I don’t feel that it offers me anything, I won’t do it. I would do it if it were explicitly in Scripture. Of course, it’s not.

    I think Mark Driscoll should give up deception, for lent. Here he bought his way onto the New York Times bestseller list by very shady means of a corporate fake buy/giveaway, rather than actual interested individual purchases: http://www.worldmag.com/2014/03/unreal_sales_for_driscoll_s_real_marriage/page1

    But now he can call himself “a New York Times bestselling author” for the one week that the scam got him on the list.

  35. Xenia says:

    “Be careful not to display your righteousness merely to be seen by people. Otherwise you have no reward with your Father in heaven……. ….. When you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to others when you are fasting, but only to your Father who is in secret. And your Father, who sees in secret, will reward you.”

    Joel, these Scriptures are read over and over to us during Lent.

    One Lenten maxim: Keep your eyes on your own plate!

  36. Jtk says:

    I wanna hear Babylon’s Dread’s Nawluns stories for Lent

  37. JoelG says:

    Xenia please pardon my “low church” ignorance. Just trying to line up my (mis?)conceptions of Lent with Jesus’ Words. Thank you.

  38. Xenia says:

    Joel, lots of people have misconceptions about Lent. All they see is Mardi Gras and giving up candy bars and rightly wonder how there could be any benefit to it. I reject that myself.

  39. Xenia says:

    The closest thing I can think of from my old Baptist/ CC life that corresponds to Lent is the yearly women’s retreat, which could happen any time of the year and was not attached to a church calendar. The ladies would anticipate the retreat and would say things like “I am going to leave all my troubles up on the mountain” or “this is going to be a fresh start for me” or “this is such a special time” or “this is such a time of blessing” or “God is really going to speak to us this weekend” and so on. You get the idea, the idea of a special time set aside when the women focused on the things of the Lord and expected to receive some kind of benefit. This would be the time when women would be encouraged to go off by themselves and meditate on a passage of Scripture and pray, etc. This was a time when people were encourage to receive the “2nd Blessing” and so on. Some women made significant decisions during this weekend, women confessed sins. A special time, in other words.

  40. JoelG says:

    I love that Xenia. The way you describe makes total sense. Actually the how you describe the words of the ladies at the retreat makes me roll my eyes a bit (wrongly probably). It’s hard for me to get rid of the notion that these traditions and rituals replace simple faith in the Person of Christ. But yours is a form of Faith. A more “structured” faith perhaps? Is this why you left the old Baptist/CC life?

  41. This was my early morning post on Facebook and it answers the question.

    “Today begins Lent. I am participating. Fasting some food choices that will help my health and break some habits. That aside, what I need most after being a Christian for almost 42 years is just to know Jesus. I need to know the one that I call Savior and Lord. 40 days of self-denial and reflection is a small step in that direction. —” (8 hours ago)

    We were thinking along the same lines.

    Ashead Dread

  42. Xenia says:

    Joel, I converted to Orthodoxy because I am a terrible sinner and need the medicine the Church offers. Bible study is an excellent thing but I needed some other kind medicine as well.

  43. Xenia says:

    Dread, you are always a participator. Whatever God is offering, you are willing to join in!

  44. Joel,
    Lutherans don’t have all the bells and smells that the EO or RCC have but we do get close. My question to you based on this statement ” the notion that these traditions and rituals replace simple faith in the Person of Christ.”

    May I ask – how is that manifest – this simple faith in the Person of Christ. I think what you label traditions & rituals are just manners of manifesting that “simple faith in the Person of Christ”

  45. JoelG says:

    MLD,

    “May I ask – how is that manifest – this simple faith in the Person of Christ.”

    Romans 10:9-10 “because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.”

    “I think what you label traditions & rituals are just manners of manifesting that “simple faith in the Person of Christ””

    I tried to convey that when I describe tradition and ritual as form of Faith. A more “structured” Faith.

  46. Bob says:

    MLD:

    “Everyone’s everyday life is Fat Tuesday compared to how the Lord would have us live. ”

    This is a “cop-out” to the question.

    Everyday should be led as if the Lord were to return this day, not a “Fat Tuesday” debauchery in the same manner as a Bacchus celebration.

    “Eat drink and be merry for tomorrow we die” (we have to start Lent). That, to me, is the heart of Fat Tuesday!

    Michael so far has the best answer, “It happened when our religion became accounting.”

    That made me smile!

    Oh and in respect for those who honestly observe Lent I think this kind of comment, “I think Mark Driscoll should give up deception, for lent. ” is s bit off. Take it to another thread please.

  47. Bob,
    I think you may be evaluating Fat Tuesday to today’s standards vs it’s origin.

    Now truthfully, how many of those folks down in New Orleans who partied all week actually showed up or will show up at church today?

    Probably none.

  48. Xenia says:

    I confess I did pretty much devour half a large cheese pizza before Lent began….

  49. “Everyday should be led as if the Lord were to return this day, not a “Fat Tuesday” debauchery in the same manner as a Bacchus celebration.”

    I agree, but most people (even Christians) in their quiet desperation live in debauchery.

    Even I, today bought 6 green bananas … is my lack of faith in the Lord’s return showing??

  50. Xenia says:

    One problem I have during Lent is this is the time of year when my hens begin laying eggs again in earnest. I give them to the nursing moms and families with little children in church. Little kids, nursing moms, old folks, sick folks- they all follow a relaxed regimen.

  51. Xenia says:

    Folks will ask why not live Lent all the time if it’s so beneficial? Monastics do, pretty much. But even though I believe all Christians should place their focus on the Lord all day, everyday, in practice, this is impossible- at least, for me it is. Thoughts of the Lord and His goodness are always floating around in the back of my mind somewhere but during Lent I bring awareness of Him to the forefront. Or I try to. I can’t do this every day of the year but Lent gives us practice and each year, with God’s help, we are able to focus a little more on Him and His goodness, in the ordinary times of the year.

  52. JoelG says:

    I wasn’t going to ask this because its off topic, but I can’t resist…..

    Xenia, this “medicine” you found only in the Orthodox Church…Are you referring to the Lord’s Supper?

  53. Xenia says:

    Joel, yes, the strongest medicine is the Eucharist for sure, the “medicine of immortality.” But other pills include the Liturgy, confession, the fasts, and so forth.

  54. Xenia says:

    Alrighty, dear PhxPeeps, unless anyone has any more questions, I will take my leave of you all for the duration. I felt I needed to respond to the questions people here were asking and clear up some common misconceptions. I love you all (every one of you, even the ones I bicker with) and ask your forgiveness for the offenses I have committed in the past year year. However you all choose to think about our Lord’s death, burial and resurrection, may you be blessed. God bless you all!

    With much love,
    Xenia

  55. JoelG says:

    Xenia thank you for answering questions. Thanks also to Michael and yourself and others for helping us learn about early Church history.

  56. Bob says:

    MLD:

    “I think you may be evaluating Fat Tuesday to today’s standards vs it’s origin.”

    Yep that’s true! But, the tradition of Mardi-Gras and Brazil’s form goes way back.

    Historically all that matters when one turns to the left or right is the time or day in which they do it.

    PS. The best day to repent is the last day of your life. Now if you can figure that day out let me know.

  57. ” PS. The best day to repent is the last day of your life. Now if you can figure that day out let me know.”

    Why would that be? Do you think God wants you to live under that burden? Wondering when you will die so you can repent on the last day?

    Learn from my friend Luther and his 95 theses – Bob do you know the number 1 theses he posted to the door?

    #1 When our Lord and Master, Jesus Christ, said “Repent”, He called for the entire life of believers to be one of repentance.

    Stay in repentance and unbind yourself from the law you live under. Repent daily and move on.

    Fat Tuesday originated as Xenia said – she ate more pizza than usual because she ain’t getting any more for 47 days.

  58. Bob says:

    MLD:

    “Why would that be? Do you think God wants you to live under that burden? Wondering when you will die so you can repent on the last day?”

    You don’t get it, do you. The idea of repenting on the last day of your life is not to be analyzed at all. It is a teaching meant to state how stupid a person would be if they decided to put off following God each day with the hope they will have chance to repent when it was necessary. Why is it stupid? Because one has no control over which day is the last day of their life!

    Come on MLD I thought you would get it and instead you try to come up with an explanation why it was a bad idea.

    As far as the 95 Thesis goes, I’ve not only read them I had a little girl years ago wear a Wittenberg Door costume with the thesis to our Harvest Fest one year (I had recently taught about All Saints day and her father picked up on the door idea).

    So eating more Pizza on Fat Tuesday is OK knowing one won’t get any for 40 days? I still don’t buy the idea of either debauchery or gluttony before a fast. Just doesn’t make sense to me at all.

  59. Just saw this elsewhere…

    “…When you fast,
    Do not change your Facebook status…
    So that to others you appear to be fasting.”

    Love it!

  60. Bob,
    Feast Days and Church calendars being foreign to your church tradition leaves one lacking in those areas.

    So are you saying that you NEVER have that extra piece of pizza?

    We haven’t for the past couple of years, but in the past our church has had Mardi Gras parties every year. But then again we have Halloween and don’t fake it with Harvest festivals.

  61. Bob says:

    MLD:

    You have to quit saying things like this: “leaves one lacking in those areas.”

    I am not lacking by not observing Lent nor am I lacking by having an extra piece of Pizza. I support those who chose to observe these purely voluntary and personal forms of worship.

    You have some very weird logic here and are doing a little finger pointing at the same time. Just because someone’s tradition is not the same as yours does not mean they are lacking anything at all.

    Actually I don’t get why you’re directing the comments this way? My original comment was on “Fat Tuesday” and you now seem to be defending any form of overindulgence as a preparatory move towards observing Lent while at the same time critiquing others for not doing so.

    Why not just give your explantion about the history of “Fat Tuesday” and how the church turned their their head to the practice and its morphing into today’s Mardi-Gras. Actually I like Michael’s original idea about the church becoming accountants. It makes more sense.

  62. Bob says:

    Now MLD:

    As far as Halloween goes I and others don’t “fake it” with their Harvest Fests. Years ago when I led the church I was with Harvest Fest, I spent plenty of time teaching the leaders that Halloween wasn’t some evil filled night at all. If you read my post about the Wittenberg Door costume you’d have gotten a bit of the teaching.

    The devil’s in the details.

    Oh please don’t drift this thread to Halloween. I’ll agree to not post again about it if you will.

  63. Bob,
    “You have to quit saying things like this: “leaves one lacking in those areas.”

    The context was that if you are not in a surrounding that observes feasts and calendars then you are lacking in understanding how they work and why they are important.

    Now that you bring it back up, your original comment about Ash Wednesday / Lent is a bit odd.

    You said “Lent, I like, but the idea but “Fat Tuesday” has always ruined it for me.”

    Do you observe lent? You said you like it. Some of your other comments lead me to believe that you do not.

    You seem to be saying that you cannot see observing Lent because of what happens on Fat Tuesday / Mardi Gras.

    Why would you let the world’s perversion of what happens on Tuesday affect you for the next 7 weeks.

    As I said, I doubt that any of the party goers in New Orleans had any intention of going to church for Ash Wednesday.

  64. I cannot push lent on anyone. One Lutheran cannot even tell another Lutheran that they should observe lent because then you have taken something good and made it a law.

    But I will say that the reason I did not observe lent when I was CC or SBC was simple – the teaching was “Lent is Catholic!”

  65. Bob says:

    MLD

    Lent is an extra biblical tradition of fasting and worship and while you say you can’t “push” Lent you do by these words.

    “Why would you let the world’s perversion of what happens on Tuesday affect you for the next 7 weeks.”

    Like all fasts Jesus instructed them to be personal and un observable by others and because of that I believe you are out of line asking whether or not I observe Lent or any fasts.

    Again my question and observation was about Fat Tuesday and it’s historic sanction, which BTW , I find rehensable.

    Let’s stay with the details rather than having you question my traditions. I do not nor ever will celebrate Fat Tuesday. I support personal choice to worship through the observance of Lent.

  66. Andrew says:

    But I will say that the reason I did not observe lent when I was CC or SBC was simple – the teaching was “Lent is Catholic!
    _____________________________________________________________________

    MLD, the reason I didn’t was simple because it wasn’t Jewish enough for the CC I attended. They preferred to do a 21 day corporate Daniel fast starting a week before Easter not even stopping to celebrate Easter. It was actually pretty pathetic to me to not differentiate the Resurrection of Jesus from any of the other 21 days. To me it was a pious activity pumping up their own self righteousness.

  67. Andrew – you may have something there. i do look at CC theology being faux messianic christian … just too tied t the OT – just too much Israel in their future.

  68. Andrew says:

    The commencement of their 21 day fast was a celebration of their new multimillion dollar facility. Had nothing to do with Christ’s resurrection. So I am not even sure this is really Judaism either cause its not like a temple they built. But maybe they think it is.

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