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Mini Burrito Part One

Mini Burrito Part One

Have you ever sat back and marveled at the stuff He shows you? I mean, like when he supplies for a need you didn’t even know you had? Yeah, prior to tonight I never saw that happen either, but it did. I walked in to church for a monthly event, expecting the usual, you know food, hang time with my youth…which unfortunately is a singular term currently, but she’s awesome, and we’re preaching together next Sunday, so no big there, regardless – I sat down, and then it came. A check to go towards my homeless ministry that me and the Burrito Brothers have been doing. It just so happens that one of our homeless friends is taking a bus to Texas to an area where more services are available and he can have housing and better medical care, and he’s leaving in two days, and we already made sure he could afford the ticket, and got him a backpack to travel with, and now we get to get him some fresh clothes and some snacks for the long trip. How bout them apples? Or maybe a Burrito? Or like…some nabs and chips and stuff…those will probably keep on the bus better.

So do not be like them; for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him. – Matthew 6:8

 
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Posted by on May 8, 2013 in Devotional

 

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The Written Burrito

The Written Burrito

I have never been a writer. Nope, never. I remember knowing in first grade that my handwriting was terrible. SO terrible that when I was doing my homework, where I had to write my spelling words three times each, that I had to slow down so immensely that I could hear a clicktrack in my brain in order to write legibly enough for my teacher to read what I was writing. That concept didn’t change until I was in 6th grade. That previous summer my grandaddy had given us his old computer when he had upgraded. It was a Headstart LX 8088. The operating system was DOS, and we installed GeoWorks. For those of you who are computer nerds, this was the first CD-ROM system, and the CDs were loaded in special cases, Windows 3.1 was too advanced for it. Yeah, it was awesome….to me…at the time.

That year we read the book Secret of NIMH, and were assigned our first MLA formatted paper. I chose to write from the viewpoint of the cat, Dragon. I sat down in front of that awesome computer, booted GeoWorks from the 3.5” floppy and started the word processor. I stared at my cat, Jazz, for a solid half hour and tried to put myself into his personality, and thought about the framework of the book. I wrote a one page paper, printed it, and even made a cover page with a cat clipart, put it in one of those clear report covers with the hard plastic spine that slides on and turned it in. My teacher thought it was awesome and gave me an A. It was awesome. Handwriting was for suckers.

I wrote exactly 1 more creative writing pieces throughout the rest of my school career. It was in 8th grade, and it was my riff on the Declaration of Independence for my civics class. Being the kid that came to school in camos and band shirts with a chain attached to my wallet, and played Magic: The Gathering everyday at lunch, I got bullied and picked on quite a bit at school by the popular kids and told how much of a satanist I was by the fairly large population of kids from one particular youth group from the area. So, my independence was declared from “religious extremists”. Yep, at 13 I wrote a manifesto about how much of a jackwagon Christians were. I quoted scripture and song lyrics. My teacher posted it on the wall of the classroom.

Then came High School. 9th grade of course was a blur of stupidity and class skipping, but that summer I started my first real band. We played Metallica, Creed, Nirvana, KoRn, and Limp Bizkit covers and played a show at a chinese buffet restaurant. Then we started writing original tunes. I was writing lyrics as the singer. Yep, writing, and no, I didnt do it on the computer, so yeah, it was handwritten. Then came my student politics career. All of a sudden I was writing speeches. I was speaking in front of the whole school, then hundreds of people as a state officer, followed by thousands of thousands as a national officer. These speeches had to have substance, and I was writing them pretty much weekly.

I wasn’t a writer though. Nope, not in my head. I was a singer, and a speaker, but not a writer. Fast forward about 6 years and I find myself in Youth Ministry, preaching from the pulpit a handful of times a year, where I had to write full sermons on scripture themes and weekly sunday school lessons. Now I was in ministry, but still not a writer. Then it came, I had made some friends on facebook that started a local faith based magazine, and they were gearing up their online content and asked me to write a blog for them. I agreed and started turning out weekly pieces about this thing I called the Holy Burrito. I was writing…on deadline…for a real publication…but still didn’t call myself a writer. Nope, I was a blogger maybe, but a writer? Nah, my writing style was how I talked, and I was steeped in sarcasm, and probably somebody that made grammar police twitch with anger. I started putting all my writing on my personal blog site. Then the guy that was writing the latest book for I Am Second read my blog, and liked it. He asked me to write for the launch campaign of the book.

Holy crap! Was I a writer now? I don’t know. I kept writing after the magazine and book campaign were over though. I just kept going, admittedly less and less as I didn’t have anything concrete to submit to. Here I sit, writing though. So, where’s the tortilla to wrap all of this up? Maybe, it was all rambling and I have no idea what I’m talking about, but I think the point is that through all of this I ignored something that God had placed in my life to excel at as a true gift from Him, and saw it as one big happy coincidence. What an arrogant thought right? I think maybe. So whether I’m a writer or not, I’ writing, and thankful for doing so.

 
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Posted by on April 26, 2013 in Ramblings

 

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The Downtown Burrito

The Downtown Burrito

Recently, my good friend Lenny and I that started the Holy Burrito Brotherhood, had found ourselves as the only ones showing up to our Thursday get together. Most have had commitments with their ministries or their family, but others have just stopped coming altogether. We wondered if we had lost the relevancy to our goal of reaching out and having the honest and open conversations we had set out for, or perhaps our season was just over and it was simply time to move on. After thinking a moment, I just blurted out that maybe we should take it downtown. Instead of having people come to the Burrito, we would just bring the burrito to them. Lenny bit, and sure enough this past Thursday, we were heading downtown.

That night when I arrived, we printed out some of the questions that we’ve wrestled with onto strips of paper, mixed them up, threw them into a plastic takeout container and jumped in the car to head downtown. We jumped out and sat down right on market street where produce and artisinal vendors set up every weekend. It’s typically a high traffic area, so we figured we would have plenty of opportunities for discussions. Sure enough just a couple minutes after getting there, we had our first passerby. An older gentleman decides to take us up on our offer to draw a slip of paper. It was the question. THE burrito question. Of course, he just jumped right in and said “He could handle it!” as he handed the slip of paper back and went on his way. Not much of a conversation there.

We waited a few minutes, and it seemed as though suddenly the whole place had become a ghost town. Of course, the night we decide to show up there is absolutely nobody walking down what’s normally one of the most heavily trafficked areas in all of Roanoke. Finally, an older couple, very well dressed, who had quite obviously been out to eat at a fancy restaurant (Did I mention it was valentines day?) walked by and took us up on our offer. I don’t remember the question, but I think the word “God” was in the first couple words and as he read it, he threw it back at us and said “you know what buddy, I don’t care!”. Yep, there was the first rejection. Less dramatic then I had imagined it I guess, but hey don’t we all have that fantasy of getting just short of flogged because we’re spreading the Gospel? No? Well maybe I’m weird.

Next up came a pair of guys, one decked out in juggalo tattoos, the other looking visibly angered. They jumped in and grabbed a slip of paper and both picked the same question  “Do you believe in miracles? Have you ever experienced a miracle?” The first guy sat down and said yes, but his friend quickly said no and wanted another question, he picked the same one again though. Quickly Lenny told him that if he drew the same question again I’d give him ten dollars…he didn’t. Good thing because I carry cash long enough to get from the bank to pay my rent once a month. We’ll call our friends Tom and Chris. Tom proceeds to tell us that he believes in miracles, because the fact that he is alive alone is a miracle. He tells us a good bit of his life story, and based on what he tells us, he’s not kidding when he says the fact that he is alive is a miracle.

Chris is slightly agitated though, and begins to pace back and forth and then plugs a cell phone into charge in one of the electrical outlets there on the stall. He tells us that he doesn’t mean to be rude, but they’re not in the best situation because they’re homeless and they had just left probably the only place they’d be able to sleep in a bed that evening. They had been to our local rescue mission, and walked out when the current resident pastor preaching their evening sermon at chapel had told them, in no uncertain terms, that he was sure that not only were the two of them not “saved”, but that they were definitely going to hell. As the evening went on they stuck around to talk about faith with us, and just how they’ve been treated by “church folk,” as well as what they typically do and where they manage to find food each day.They told us that on nights where the Rescue Mission wasn’t a viable option they slept at the bus station. There was a place there where they could hide their bags so they wouldn’t get stolen, and there was a decent amount of space for them to stretch out and be comfortable, albeit on a sidewalk.

As we stood there, a girl, with a badly shaved head, and obviously pregnant came over and asked them where her boyfriend was. They knew this girl, and asked her why she wasn’t back at the mission. She told them she was trying to find her boyfriend, he had her coat. Without so much as a passing thought, Tom took off his zip up hoodie and gave it to her for her to stay warm. We never caught her name, but it seemed she wouldn’t have told us regardless.

Of course, our heartstrings had been tugged, and we brought them some things, but that’s irrelevant. What they showed us, after leaving somewhere because religion was being pushed on them, only to hang out and talk Jesus with us for two hours, is that it’s in the conversation where the Gospel is truly given. Where’s the next conversation for you? I know this isn’t the typical burrito blog, but that’s the question I want you to answer. That’s the next discussion to be had.

 
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Posted by on February 18, 2013 in General

 

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A Postal Burrito

A drawing of an envelope

A drawing of an envelope (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I guess there is a lot to be said for what can happen as a person’s life evolves through time. In a lot of cases, as priorities shift and life takes place, sometimes things can become lost or hidden. They never truly go away, but can become some mired in the muck of not being used, that they almost become alien. Then, when a sudden loss occurs, it sends one scrambling for some semblage of what was known, or into a cycle of chasing what it was that reminds you of what you lost. It seems that’s what must have happened for me. I don’t have a good reason why otherwise. It’s been a fairly complex span of time really. Not all that long, but so very complicated.

Family is one of those things that, as you scion off into making your own, you decide that youre going to mold it certain ways, and of course, its never quite what you claim it will be. For me, though, music was something I always stressed as important. I may not have been playing like I was, but appreciating it was paramount, pretty close to establishing the importance of Faith even. You taught me that.

Throughout my life, I’ve seen stupid fall like snow flakes, and was even dumb enough to stick my toungue out more than a time or two. What I have found though, is that roots are established for a reason. I established roots in music, just like I have established roots in my Faith. I’d even go as far as saying that music is more than just a large tenet of my faith. I’ve gone through all the stages of naïve country to hippie to hipster and all around the spectrum of metal. I always had friends or peers that “only listened to Christian Music”, and I always thought that was outright dumb…still do really, but its for reasons of semantics I guess. Christian defining the genre, dumb, but the feeling you get when making or listening to the music, if that’s not one of if not THE most purest forms of worship you ever experience, you’re doing it wrong. You taught me that.

I guess really the “stages of grief” could be valid for some people, but after stepping back and watching what I did, and what I’m seeing other people do now too in their losses, it has to be so much more complicated than that. Being a 28 year old father and trying to lead a family is an interesting place to be, but when you’ve spent so much time establishing yourself one way, and ignoring the rest of who you are, sin can catch up REALLY fast. It wasn’t that it was something I was trying to do purposely by any means, really just a matter of misplaced priorities of course, but that’s all it takes, right?

I feel good that I found my faith in the way that I have. My ministry brings me a lot of joy. Seeing people light up because something I said meant something to them, just like when I would be up on that stage and see people singing the words to a song I wrote. Indescribable really. Joy? Maybe, but so much deeper and stronger than that. Feeling bigger and more connected to the whole is something that I’ve come to find out is really so much of being a part of the church as it is called to be. Making music has to be that way too. You taught me that.
I know that there was a lot of questions about where you fell on that whole side of things, but finding those lyrics was all that I needed. I pray a lot. A lot of people think I pray more than is needed, but I don’t know that it will ever be enough. Regardless, those prayers include wanting to establish a legacy like yours. My own, of course, but like you did.

In all of it, I messed some things up, watched people hurt, and probably didn’t cope the way or to the level I should have. In the last few days though, I’ve watched other people go through it and again experienced a senario where I saw a parent burying their child. I can’t fathom this, and I’ve watched it happen closely to me three times now. It just makes it all the more clear that staying on top of these things and ensuring that my kids, and my grandkids, and generations past that, can look back and say of me – you taught me that.
Thanks for all you taught me. You’ll probably never know the breadth of the influence it all had in who I am, but one thing being for certain – I will keep it as a part of me. You taught me that.

 
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Posted by on February 8, 2013 in Ramblings

 

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The Responsive Burrito

The Responsive Burrito

It has burned in me for days now. I have been assaulted and insulted in a steady stream on my social media feed by folks whom I love. I have wept and avoided the opportunity to weep. I have prayed, meditated, and cried out for guidance, seeking His wisdom and waiting for a response. It seems that in the midst of all that continues to go on in my life, I have things laid to my heart on top of them. All I can think when reading any of it is “YOU’RE DOING IT WRONG!”

What I have seen in these posts to my various social media feeds, has both hurt me, and taught me. While it is hard to say that I would be shocked by anything that occurs in theis sin cursed world, I still can’t help but not understand why so many choose to politicize and polarize issues when such a heavy loss is accrued by real people. While I was holding and praying over my 7 year old daughter, others were decrying a call to defend. While I was weeping and asking questions to God others were jumping to conclusions and attacking the already-formed polar sides.

Instead of mourning, people were debating. Instead of praying, people were rallying and attaching an unnecessary cause. Where have we gotten lost from what is the most important sermon ever given, some two thousand years ago upon a hillside? How has our line of sight gone from blessing to cursing? Friends, I am a wretched sinner, and I fall short every day, and am constantly undeserving of the grace that I have been shown, but how can we not have our hearts simply break for tragedies?

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

When wronged in such a way, and reeling from tragedy, why are we crazy to believe that when Jesus taught us to pray “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven” He truly meant we are to ensure that His will and His kingdom should be ensured and implemented now, and not only in the afterlife? When broken down to our core, how is it possible that we have such an earthly strength to see our own agendas and values to be attached to tragedy? When faced with loss due to an overwhelming evil that is ever-pervasive in this world, how do we NOT mourn?

Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

There are beautiful lives that have been lost, and families that are forever changed, and forever broken from this. In the face of death, we are called to mourn. In mourning we can set our sights on things above, and be comforted. So why have we chosen to rally and fight?

Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.

When we are attacked and damaged, there is not an opposite effect to our resolution in immediate terms. Through damage we are weakened. Once weakened we are called to be patient and submit, so that we might we healed. So how is our cause strengthened by these things?

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.

When hurting and asking questions, we should seek the answers that heal, restore, and regenerate. We are called to seek after the things we are missing. When covered in evil, we are most missing righteousness. So why do we seek to be filled up on things of material and egotistical comfort?

Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.

In an often used quote of an author unknown, we are told that Mercy is when you do not get what you deserve. Of course, in terms of punishment, we are oh so quick to seek justice, and more often than not, our definition of “what you deserve” is askew. So often, we are guilty, and of course in James 2:10 we are told that “Whoever keeps the whole Law but fails in one point becomes guilty of it all.” Yet it does not seem that we are given what we deserve for this. So why have chosen to hold others who simply disagree with us to a standard we ourselves are not held to?

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

Martin Luther King Jr. is quoted, from one of his more memorable speeches, that “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” In this quote we see that we are charged through this blessing to drive out darkness and hate, but in order to do so, we must be light and love, not different kinds of darkness and hate. So why do attack evil with evil, and hate with hate?

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.

We hear so often that in order to obtain peace, you must prepare for war, yet all we have done in our lives for so long is prepare for war. All of this preparation for war, has only brought us more war. So if we are to be peacemakers, why are we attacking and targeting each other?

Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.

In words no plainer we are told that when people do attack us and say harsh things to us, since we are His, these things are blessings. The verse even goes onto say that we should rejoice and be glad, because we will be rewarded greatly for this persecution just as all the prophets have been that have come before us. So why do we choose to retaliate?

In Jeremiah we are told of the story of Rachel, who wept for the loss of the innocents. In the Gospel of Luke, we are told of the slaughter of the innocents. In both of these instances, God was there, and was ready to restore His people. So, I ask you to please UNITE in prayer FIRST. I know that “Faith without works is dead” but works without prayer are worthless, and in fact, given some pretty harsh descriptive terms in scripture throughout the Bible. Once we pray, we can rest assured that we can then act and know that what we are called to do WILL ensure that His kingdom will come and His will shall be done. A faith wrapped, prayer marinated, action burrito, will ALWAYS taste that much better.

 
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Posted by on December 17, 2012 in Ramblings

 

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Dunkards – 60 Days Of Second Blog

Dunkards – 60 Days Of Second Blog

Day 20: Dunkards – I Am Second Blog

60-Days-of-Second: Follow along as 15 bloggers journey through 4 readings each from the new book, Live Second: 365 Ways to Make Jesus First. Together they will blog through 60-Days-of-Second. Register to follow at http://www.iamsecond.com/blog. Get the “Live Second” book in stores December 9.

Day 17 by Zach Emerson

“Jesus didn’t bring an entourage. He didn’t dress in glowing robes or a halo. Instead, he lived the simple life of a carpenter, and when the time was right, he stepped into the Jordan River and inaugurated his ministry.” -Live Second, 24.

I remember the day I was baptized extremely well. It was June 8, 2008. The date stays in my mind, not because they gave us towels with the date monogrammed in them, but because that was the day that I felt my calling to what some would consider more traditional ministry. It was the strangest thing. I had known all my life that I was put on this earth to make music, and of course after I came to a solid faith, I figured that I was probably going to end up in a music based ministry. It didn’t work that way.

I had a band that had gone through all of the motions of preparation for signing to a label, recording an album, and touring. We had a following, we had the equipment, and for the most part we had the drive to do pretty much whatever it took to make it to the next level. Then it was over. Poof – No more band. The drummer and myself moved on to another group and recorded another album and played some more shows, but just as quick as that one came it was gone. No more bands. I was pretty confused.

Now interweaved with the whole band timeline is me finding a girl, having a kid, moving in together, getting married (yes, really in that order, we did it backwards, I know) and finally finding a church that we wanted to raise our daughter in. After doing the Sunday syndrome thing for a while we decided it was time to commit to the church and we were baptized. We went through a class teaching about history of the denomination and different belief points, as well as the typical “why baptism matters” stuff and a few more points along the way, but one of the big points made in the class is that in our church denomination we dunk you 3 times. Yep, when Jesus said “…and baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit” our denomination took that to mean once for each.

Over the years many have coined the nicknamed “Dunkards” for the church, since we dunk ya 3 times. To me, I had heard the term, but didn’t make the connection because I didn’t know any “dunkards”, and growing up in different denominations, all I had ever seen was one dunk heading backwards. When I waded into the baptismal that morning I got on my knees and was dunked three times forward, face first. I can remember between each dunk taking a breath and feeling the air seem different to me. Once I got up, got out, and walked down the steps to receive my aforementioned monogrammed towel, things were just different.

Now, I have no solid comparison on what exactly I felt. Maybe if you’ve been baptized you know what I’m talking about, and maybe you don’t, but either way I went home knowing I was about to start something new. In the scripture for today’s devotional Jesus shows up to have John baptize Him, and as He came out of the water, we see a solid picture of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit co-existing in the same place at the same time. I wish I could say that it was that awesome when I came out of the water, but alas, no doves or shining light, well, short of the super bright light that shines on the baptismal because of the white walls surrounding me. Regardless, what happened next for Jesus, and what happened next for me sorta parallel. Of course, he had that whole 40 days of tempting in the desert by Satan thing, I just had to deal with working a call center job, but if you’ve ever worked a call center job, you may feel that Satan is behind every ziptone.

After my baptism, some time went by where I immersed myself in biblical history, different schools of thought on Christian theology, and all out Bible study, and then one morning after filling in for teaching the youth I was asked by our pastor and told by my wife to be the new youth director. It was a new experience to be sure, but as it all started to unfold, everything came together. I had youth that were interested in learning more about Jesus, and out of nowhere some old friends that were interested in talking God in a new and fresh way. There it was, the start of my ministry, and the birth of the Holy Burrito Crew. I had arrived at the start of my new journey, and I was excited about it.

My name is Zach Emerson. I am a Holy Burrito brother, a sinner saved by grace, a baptized believer, and I am Second.

Check out Zach Emerson’s regular blog at zacherock.wordpress.com

 
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Posted by on December 5, 2012 in Devotional, I Am Second

 

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The Turkey Burrito

The Turkey Burrito

Day number eleventy-nine: I am thankful for vulgar amounts of food that I only eat about twice a year, and complain about having the leftovers for a week after. Also, I’m super excited that come midnight I get to stand in the cold and compete with people for super great deals on stuff I don’t need in the name of baby Jesus.

 That sting a little? I know it reeks of me and my family practice, and really it was covered in self-deprecation, but the fact remains that it is still true, and despite the fact that it kind of hurts my moral convictions, I’m probably going to do little to nothing to change it this year, next year, or anytime in the near future I’d imagine. So why poke myself (and a vast majority of America) with a post like this? Well, I don’t know yet. Maybe that’s something that will get hashed out as I write on. This is just one of those times that the Spirit has come over me and pushed me to start plodding away on my keyboard.

 I read an article last year referring to the holiday season practices of most of us in the Christian world and it convicted me HARD. It was called “The Most Wonderful Sin of the Year” and it came in one of the daily emails I subscribe to. We get to spend little time with our family in the manner in which we should these days due to self imposed hectic schedules and modern day scheduling idolatry and mammon worship, and when we jump into the holiday shift, schedules amp up to make up for the loss of a couple days for Thanksgiving and Christmas. Of course, on those less productive days, we indulge in gluttony that is rivaled only by celebrations like Xerxes 180 day rager he threw prior to divorcing Vashti and starting up his own primitive times version of the bachelor reality tv show. We eat, we consume, we sleep, and then wake up and repeat, in some cases quite a few times over various 48 hour periods.

 Of course, all the while we do get charitable and run in hunger races and pack little boxes of toys for folks all around the world, and that’s great, but is the holiday season the only time we should do this? I don’t think so, but it’s freakin’ HARD to squeeze that stuff into the rest of the year isn’t it? All of that “loving the least of these” stuff is time consuming, emotion consuming work in a lot of cases. It’s just one of those things that continues to knock over tables and crack whips in the center of my brain. So where’s the burrito in all of this? I don’t know that I’m sure, but go ahead and grab a tortilla, spread on some cranberry sauce, throw some sliced turkey and dressing on, top it all off with gravy and wrap it up and enjoy the time with people you love, because community is still important, but remember, don’t even pagans and tax collectors love the folks that are closest to them?

 I’ve had some pretty awesome opportunities to write for some really awesome publications, but down to the original spicy and bigness of the burrito, this is still a blog. So, rambles like this will still show up now and again, but conversation can come from anywhere. So thanks for riding along, and feel free to tangent or drill down for the sake of conversation.

 
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Posted by on November 19, 2012 in Ramblings

 

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