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St. Mark's United Church

Believe Belong Become

Young Families and Youth Ministries Position

Young Families and Youth Ministries Position at St. Mark’s United Church

This is a full time position (40 hours per week) and is for a three-year term (renewable).

This is a program position and is congregational accountable. It is open to: Lay, Ordained or Commissioned applicants

Position Profile

St. Mark’s United Church is located in the residential area known as Greendale in Saint John West NB. Our history dates back 160 years and has its roots in the Methodist Society. From the first gatherings in homes and re-purposed barns to the first structures on Church Ave. Through several fires and rebuilding, St. Mark’s current building is at 50 Dexter Dr. and was dedicated in 1960. The congregation is vibrant and dedicated to the mission of Jesus and hospitality.

St. Mark’s United Church is currently seeking a leader for its Young Families and Youth Ministries. The full time role is open to Ordained, Commissioned or lay candidates. This person will be a key member of the ministerial team, which encourages the development and fulfillment of the congregation’s mission and vision. They will work in a collegial and supportive team ministry with the Lead Minister, the Minister of Music, the Office Administrator and the Caretaker. This ministry role offers an opportunity to support a vibrant faith community that has a reputation for being warm, welcoming and inclusive.

 

The Young Families Youth Ministry position is a new position and the successful candidate will have the opportunity to build the ministry from the ground up. The primary focus of this position is to provide developmental focused leadership for a ministry of spiritual formation, community development, programs and outreach with Young Families and Youth at St. Mark’s United Church. The program will be shaped and delivered in close collaboration with the other members of the ministry team, with the overall spirit of creating a truly welcoming experience for new members and established members of the congregation.

 

The key responsibilities for this role include:

Developing and growing a vibrant Young Families and Youth Ministry program

Helping young families and youth explore their beliefs and nurture faith life.

Would collaborate with the Sunday school leader in the coordination of Sunday school, registration, events and retreats for children.

Would work collaboratively with the lead minister in the development and leadership of Confirmation program.

Develop and coordinating the delivery and evolution of programming to engage young families and youth.

Assisting with worship planning and specifically looking for ways to engage and involve children and youth in worship, to create interactive and experiential worship experiences that draw in young families and youth.

Providing emergent pastoral care for the congregation in times of need – including participation in funerals and related family support – working in tandem with other members of the ministry team.

Establishing and fostering connections with families and inspiring continued, new, or renewed presence and participation in the life and work of St. Mark’s.

Engaging families in the social justice awareness and action in the community.

This position reports to the Unified Board monthly. This may be in person or by written report.

 

While this position assumes leadership for these responsibilities, this individual will be most successful through the effective training and engagement of volunteers. The Family Ministries Leader will work collaboratively with all members of the ministry team to ensure that St. Mark’s United is a welcoming and inclusive community, where newcomers are warmly welcomed and engaged.

 

The ideal candidate for this role will possess many of the following qualities:

A proven track record of designing and implementing effective programs to engage young families and youth in their Christian faith journey.

A collegial approach, adept and willing to work as a collaborative member of a highly effective ministry team.

Well-organized, able to operate independently within a cooperative team ministry.

An inspirational and approachable role model with enthusiasm, curiosity, a good sense of humour, and most of all a passion for their faith.

An awareness of the current and evolving use of technology tools to enhance, promote and raise awareness of Young Families and Youth Ministries at St. Mark’s

An ability to model inclusivity, and encourage the full diversity of our community to be expressed and empowered.

To lead worship when the Lead Minister is on vacation or continuing education.

Committed to lifelong learning.

The successful candidate will be a baptized person and has experience in this area of ministry. While some theological education is desirable, formal accreditation is not required. The successful candidate may have training in a different area of expertise. Most important is a passion for ministry with Young Families and Youth.

The racial justice and boundaries courses for ministry in the United Church are required.

 

Remuneration will be accordance to General Council guidelines and reflect the experience and qualifications of the successful candidate.

 

This position focuses on Young Families and Youth. In a normal forty-hour workweek, 25 hours will be spent on Young Families, 10 hours on youth program development and implementation and 5 hours on administration.

Please send resumes to: stmarksyouth2020@gmail.com

St. Mark’s website: www.stmarksunited.ca

 

St. Mark’s Inclusion Statement

We the people of St. Mark’s United Church strive to be a community where all people are welcome regardless of age, gender, gender identity, race, sexual orientation, differing abilities, ethnic background or economic circumstances.

All persons are welcome to take part in every aspect of church life including: membership, participation, leadership, Sacraments (Baptism and Communion), Rites (Marriage and Confirmation) and pastoral care for life passages.  We celebrate the richness that diversity brings to our church even as it challenges us. We pray for God’s Spirit to guide us as we work for reconciliation and justice for all persons in both church and society.

Approved by the congregation on February 19, 2017

Sermon for February 2, 2020

Sermon for February 2, 2020             Fourth of Epiphany                 “Belong”

It is a well known fact that what we say to people is what they believe about themselves. This is especially true with children. The first words of Jesus’ dad to him when he came out of the water were ‘this is my son, my love. In him I am well pleased’. The first words to the real message and core teachings of Jesus are: you are loved, you are welcome, you belong. Let these be the words people hear.

On Monday while at the gym the row of TV’s were showing the impeachment of Donald Trump, the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Concentration Camps and the death of Kobe Bryant and eight others but mostly Kobe and his daughter. I was struck with the juxtaposition and the fact they were all on at the same time. The impeachment hearings is the apex of ‘I am right you are wrong’ white elite privilege, one showed the outcome of such white elite privilege and the death of Kobe how fleeting life is no matter who you are.

From that backdrop I look at the words of Micah and the Beatitudes in Matthew. The context of Micah is that the people and the religious leaders are arguing about what God wants them to do? The conversation ranges from strict adherence to the Moses Code and the law of the Prophets to something less strict and more open to interpretation.

It could easily be argued that the same is happening today. Not only in religion but in politics and community as well.

The Beatitudes is an extension of God’s desire for us to belong to community. It is inherent in Micah and Matthew that the vision of belonging is both deeply personal and community based. Let me go back to the TV shows mentioned earlier. What is happening, most pointedly in the USA is the sharp drawing of lines about the nature of community. You are in or out. You are democrat or republican. There is little in-between and the division is sharp. Listening to a pod-cast from the On Being series, Krista Tippett interviewed Brene Brown. She said that the base of human nature is to be in community. The two examples she gave were the hurricane that ripped through Houston and Texas. The response team did not ask political or religious affiliation, they just said we are here to help and they did. The other was when the Houston Astros won the world series. The whole city was unified and belonged. She went on to explain the differences between fitting in and belonging. Fitting in is when you do something to show you fit in, buy the right clothes, root for the correct team, have the latest cell phone or keep ahead of the gossip curve. Belonging on the other hand is all about a community and their capacity to welcome you. You can have the right clothes, look like you fit in and not belong. Belonging is the individuals in a community saying and meaning you belong. She goes on to say that belonging is a deeply spiritual experience as it reaches to the core of who we are and the core of the person being invited to belong. Jesus shows this belonging in a story. He is walking along the road and folks are lining up to see him. Zacchaeus really wanted to see Jesus, he was trying hard but could not so he climbed a tree. Jesus stopped and said, Zacchaeus you belong to me, let’s get something to eat.

At St. Mark’s we hold as one of our core vision components: belong. That is not just a word, it is a constant action. It is about what we say and how we say it, it is about accompaniment with the guest, visitor and the ones who just come to the door, it is how we genuinely extent the invitation to belong, just as you are and not as we wish you were. That is the hard work of loving kindness and living the beatitudes.

The coverage of the death of Kobe Bryant, his daughter and seven others remind us that life is fleeting for all, the super-star and the homeless. The underlying truth that is seldom mentioned is the very human condition to live with justice, kindness and mercy. As a personal code and a community endeavor.

The coverage of the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Nazi concentration camps was moving and stirred me to the core of my being. One of the survivors reflected on Ellie Weisel’s wisdom that from the ash heap of the concentration camps there is an Eleventh Commandment and that is: we will not tolerate indifference. Justice and Kindness here mingle and dance in the quest to not tolerate indifference. All sorts of injustice happen as the ‘in-group’ fortify indifference. Child poverty, segregation of immigrant children from parents, racial profiling, segregation and yes concentration camps. Indifference is the birthplace of injustice and cannot ever be tolerated.

Belong, a simple word, easy to say and easy to be indifferent to. At St. Mark’s as we live out the mission of Jesus to love one another, it is a call of welcome in word and action. We cannot ever be indifferent to our mandate to all, to belong.

Sermon for Nov 25 2018

Sermon for November 25, 2018                     Reign of Christ                        “Truth”

The teaching of Jesus in the Gospel today is “For this I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.” I am not sure that Jesus was aware of the can of worms that would be opened as future generations struggled with unravelling the meaning of truth.

In 1925, the leader of the Roman Catholic Church, Pope Pius XI, instituted the Feast of Christ the King.  He was responding to the rise of fascism and felt that Christians were also succumbing to an increasing secularism in the world.  Over time, most mainline churches, who follow the lectionary, began to observe this Sunday in some fashion. In the United Church we call it the Reign of Christ Sunday. And it is the last Sunday in the liturgical year.

Of course, we have no choice but to live in the “real world” (we have to go to school, have jobs, buy groceries, heat our homes, clothe ourselves and our children, find a way to get around and to communicate with  others and all of those things )  but the question remains: whose values really govern our lives?  What are our priorities?  Are we governed by the values of materialism, consumerism, elitism, militarism, sexism, racism, and the other “isms” that vie for our loyalty?  Or are we governed by the Good News of Jesus.

When I clicked on the right buttons to get the computer to get me the meaning of truth, I got: Truth is disambiguation. And now I am so much more enlightened! So I looked further.

Truth is a concept most often used to mean in accord with fact or reality, or fidelity to an original or to a standard or ideal.

Biblical inerrancy, as formulated in the “Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy“, is the doctrine that the Protestant Bible “is without error or fault in all its teaching”; or, at least, that “Scripture in the original manuscripts does not affirm anything that is contrary to fact”. Various interpretations have been applied, depending on the tradition. According to some interpretations of the doctrine, all of the Bible is without error, i.e., is to be taken as true, no matter what the issue. Other interpretations hold that the Bible is always true on important matters of faith, while other interpretations hold that the Bible is true but must be specifically interpreted in the context of the languageculture and time that relevant passages were written.

When Jesus speaks of truth in this context he is speaking to Pilate and pointing out to him that his idea of truth differs from God’s idea of truth. That Pilate’s idea of community is vastly different that the community of Jesus. It is into this environment that Jesus is challenging Pilate and lifting up this teaching for all people.

It is at this moment that we leave the world of empirical data and evidence and move into the place of heart, soul and grace. It is an area that most in the western world are fidgety and uncomfortable. Jesus calls us past the facts and into our hearts. He says to Pilate, you have all this wealth and power, armies and resources and yet they are meaningless to me for they will perish and be dust and rust. My realm was, is and always will be of the spirit and soul and not subject to your idea of power nor will it return to rust and dust.

As we attempt to understand Jesus with the rule of law or even good governance, we will fail. If we insist on understanding Jesus and the realm of Jesus with fact and data, we will fail. It will require of us a leap of faith. That leap that gets us out of our heads and into our heart and spirit. And that for a cyber, fact driven people is a challenge. Though we were born as true spirit, it was taught out of us and replaced with fact and fact has become our default position. Being in our spirit and heart place takes attention and time and work and most challenging of all, a suspension of fact and an acceptance of grace. It is there that we hear the truth of the teachings of Jesus. It is there that our hearts are touched with compassion and passion. It is there where allow ourselves to live with our hearts in the realm of Jesus, and our lives in the world, ever striving to live out the prayer: ‘Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven’.

Sermon for Nov 18 2018

Sermon for November 18, 2018                  26th after Pentecost        “Into Your Heart”

You are forgiven.

I could easily end there for that is the only thing you need to hear from the texts today. You know me better than that I am sure. The author of Hebrews wants in no uncertain terms for readers to know that what Christ has done in his death on the cross is a ‘once and for all’ act that frees us from our sin and the need to offer any sort of sacrifice. It opens the door to a new way of community and personal life that is organized by love and respect. It is an invitation to live wholeheartedly in the spirit and love of Jesus.

This is not an ‘oh that’s nice sort of sentiment’. This is a live changing event that we so often struggle to grasp. Imagine the first followers of Jesus after his death. No more are they concerned about sending the best of what they had as a sacrifice. Imagine not having to take the time and expense to travel to the High Priest and confess and then give the subscribed penance. Jesus willingness to be crucified for our forgiveness was and is beyond our comprehension. Our old patterns of living and being are broken, and not broken so they can be fixed again, broken, smashed destroyed beyond repair. We are in a new way of being that is light and love and forgiving.

I can remember thinking that when my children both went to school I would have so much free time. That was not true. I hear over and over again how much time there may be when retirement comes. And yet I hear constantly from folks who are retired that they are so busy they could not imagine working too. Hebrew’s is thinking ahead of us when we think that we will not have to gather in church. The direction is; ‘do not neglect to meet together in community’ and there provoke one another to love and do good deeds.

Do not neglect to meet together as a community. It is a truth that humans need and even crave to be gathered together in community. This is a gentle reminder to gather and actively wait on the acceptable year of the Lord. This gathering happened on the Sabbath day, the day God directed we rest. For the past 50 years there have been a steady erosion of the Sabbath day or any idea that we need Sabbath. With technology, travel, work in a global context we are all, from infant to senior, on the go 24/7. We were led to believe that was good, it was progress, it was innovative and progressive. And yet we are more disconnected from each other now than any other time in history. Gathering cannot and I do not think ever will be as simple as a happy face emoticon. What I find interesting is that corporations that are now seen as progressive and supportive of life work balance are insisting that work cell phones be left at work. That there are days in a week for self and family. And in the back of our minds we hear the teaching to gather as community so that we can provoke one another to love and good deeds.

As we reach the ending of this liturgical year, it may be interesting to set intentions for the next year. I know you are familiar with this task as most do it in January and call it new years resolutions. I heard this week that a problem with church attendance is that other activities have moved into Sunday morning. When I step back and peek, and I am doing this as we are in the midst of a strategic planning process, I discover that while other activities have moved into Sunday the church has remained resolute in claiming the only time to worship is Sunday morning. The teaching of God and Jesus is: remember the Sabbath and keep it holy, it is a day of rest. The church for the past 2000 years has understood Sabbath and worship are connected and only on that day. A new liturgical year intention may be to consider that worship is appropriate on any of the days of the week.

It is clear in the text from Hebrews that God has carved love into our heart, and remembrance in our minds. With every beat of our heart the love of God courses through our bodies. With every synapse of our brain the memory of God is present. This leads me to believe that it is really hard to escape God, for God is embedded in our very being. Further each breath we take is a time of honouring God, each word we utter, each thought we think, all our being infused with God. Is it any wonder that the primary teaching of Jesus is to love, to be kind, to speak generously and act humbly? For Jesus, his followers are followers each moment of each day.

In a world that has become cruel, in Christianity that has become judgmental,  in communities that are insular and protective, Jesus gift of life, opens the door to a new way of community and personal life that is organized by love and respect. It is an invitation to live wholeheartedly in the spirit and love of Jesus.

Sermon for September 23, 2018

Sermon for September 23, 2018                 18th after Pentecost        “What are you Talking About?”

 

I was listening to a speech given by Steve Jobs this week and part of the message was that we need to trust that the dots will connect. He did not graduate from university but in his words, he dropped out and then dropped in on classes he liked. He and Steve Wozniak started building computers in the garage and then founded Apple, Jobs was fired and started an animation company that became Pixar, had cancer and was cured, back to Apple then more cancer. In the moment, he could not see that dropping out of university and dropping into a calligraphy class would lead to fonts and type faces and make the words we type have pizazz. He could not see how the dots connected until he looked back on his life and could see that his success was linked to his perceived failure and both were connected and essential.

‘The Son of God is to be betrayed into human hands, and they will kill him, and three days after being killed, he will rise again’. In the moment the disciples just could not get their head or their heart to understand what Jesus was saying. So they did what people have been doing for thousands of years…change the topic. They started arguing as boys have done for the same about of time, who’s better, faster, stronger, smarter etc. It seems that when the spiritual alludes us we pick up the mundane.

This past Wednesday the Board agreed to launch a strategic planning process. Not all the details are worked out, but the general principles are in place with an openness to flexibility and to the leading of the Spirit. It seems to me in that journey we will need to work on our ‘why’. Why is St. Mark’s a great place to be? That to me means we will have to get our heart and soul engaged. It also means that we will listen to the ‘elders’ who know that failure does not always mean failure. It may mean you are currently just going in an unhealthy way. It will mean being patient with newbies who are filled with ideas that may not have worked before but now just might. And it will mean depending on Jesus and Spirit that even in dark places light can shine, that in impossibility there is the joyful unexpected and that as we look back to plan ahead we can be assured that like before we will make mistakes and like before new doors are opened.

So let me have a go at my why.

I believe that living a life that takes me past my comfort zones is exhilarating; I believe that being socially unconventional is a powerful mechanism for social change. I believe that walking this path with others is way more fun and life giving than when walked alone. St. Mark’s believes this to be so. I invite you to walk into this adventure. It will mean that you just might be last, the wisdom of children is honoured, that giving is the best way to live with abundance and that in surrender comes truly wholehearted living.

And by the way, St. Mark’s has the terrific worship, programs and a mindset to be all this and more. And yes, we are a Christian church.

 

What the disciples did not know until the resurrection was all the crazy stuff Jesus talked about before his death was absolutely true. What we do not know until we have the humility to try is that it is still true. If you want the best seat, sit in the back of the bus. If you want abundance, give. If you want life, give yours to others. It is when we get older that it all starts to make sense, not just because we might be getting closer to the time when we will meet our maker but because we have seen it happen in our lives. And once we get a taste of it we want more of this truly wholehearted abundant life.

What are you talking about is the question of Jesus to the disciples? It is the same question we are asked. If our answer is me, me, me or how can I arrange the deck chairs so that I will survive, or how can I be perceived as great and wonderful, then like the disciples we sink in our self-imposed separation from God. We cannot serve God and ourselves. Not going to happen in any reality. We eventually learn that extravagant living comes from giving ourselves to God.

Why St. Mark’s…we are on an adventure. Each day is new and exciting. We are opening ourselves to the wonder and grace of Jesus who started the journey. What are we talking about? The crazy idea of Jesus that we can truly be loving.

Sermon for September 16, 2018

Sermon for Sunday September 16, 2018                 17th After Pentecost       “Who Is Jesus?”

Welcome back, I am overjoyed with glee that you are here. You complete us with your presence and live in the paradox that we will never be fully complete as there is always one more to welcome.

I did a quick check on welcome and it is a greeting, usually in a glad and friendly way, salutation, relief, it seems to always be used in a happy or outrageously delighted sort of way. So when I say welcome, it matches our introit that exclaims: come in, you are part of the family.

I also took a look at ‘back’ and depending on context it can be many things; as a noun, you back from shoulders to hips, as an adverb; toward the rear, the opposite direction, as a verb; to give financial, material or moral support to and as an adjective; at the back of something like the backyard.

I did the word search to try to figure out why we add back to welcome, when maybe just welcome would do. But the phrase does make sense because it acknowledges a return, a joyous return. So with wholehearted joy I say welcome back.

Now that we are mostly here we can learn a bit more about Jesus. Jesus; powerful and weak, demands we speak and be silent, healer and destroyer, human and divine, son, brother, Messiah and one who was is and always will be only about love. In the Gospel today Jesus beckons us to take up your cross and follow. Jesus did not say take up my cross, he is challenging us to discern our gifts and growing edges and from that tangled mess of life, take up your cross.

I was driving to the hospital on Wed and saw a man carrying a cross and I wondered why? I did not stop and ask so I do not have an answer. If he is showing that he is suffering like Jesus as an act of faith then I would suggest that he has misunderstood what Jesus is asking. If it is a personal journey like the 40 days in the wilderness or a pilgrimage, or seeking Sabbath time, or dessert time then I would say he is on a right track.

For years before Jesus’ death, the cross was a sign of oppression, a tool to keep the masses in line, a mechanism to silence the people with fear and it worked for the Empire of the day. When this pesky, disturbing Jesus was ordered to the cross the leaders of the Empire were convinced that, like before, it would silence and oppress. With resurrection, the cross lost all of its prior power. With Jesus, the cross is a sign of revolutionary love. It is a sign of love, so when Jesus says pick up your cross, it is about you discerning how you are best going to love. Not just love but revolutionary love for yourself and for every single person you meet. That is the hard work of being a follower of Jesus. Jesus did not call us to be a people who must suffer, self-inflicted or otherwise. He calls us to follow and to love.

I welcome you with extravagant joy and eagerness because I know that Jesus has work to do that requires you. Requires you to stoop down, pick up your way of love cross and rise to unimagined heights of fulfilled life. Jesus knew that love would lead to belonging and belonging would lead to worthiness and that would lead to increased capacity to love. That is the simple message. That is how I imagine church in its best self. A place where every word and action are motivated by love and that most elusive endeavor to serve leads to you craving to belong, for it lifts up your worthiness.

We are on the move. Not to a new local but a move that will see all welcomed with revolutionary hospitality, where all our words are life giving, where our actions holler Spirit and where the least will guide. Welcome back is also welcome to the journey. I am glad you are here.

Sermon for September 2, 2018

Sermon for September 2, 2018                   15 after Pentecost           “Not Letting Go”

When Nelson Mandela was a young man, he was determined to change the course of South African politics and the oppression of Apartheid. The correct way, at the time, was to meet force with force. For many years that was the way. One day he was arrested and sent to prison and there he was for 27 years. There he learned a new way and learned to let go of the former way. After he was released, he started a peaceful movement to heal his homeland. It was in that letting go of conviction that force must be met with force, that life was restored for himself, his nation and set an example for the world.

Jesus spent 30 of his 33 years living and working in and around Nazareth most likely as a carpenter. Biblical historians believe he was content with his life and community. One day he let all that go as he headed toward Jerusalem and the Jordon River. It was in the letting go that brought forth the teachings and wisdom of Jesus that inspires and informs even today.

The Gospel teaching today is about clinging to the past at the risk of not living today. At issue in not the washing of hands but the setting aside of justice seeking and tending to the marginalized. The Elders had fallen into the belief that if they followed the rules and rituals then they were being faithful. What was slowly lost was compassion for the people. They became guardians of the rule and not caretakers of the mind, body or spirit. The simple message of Jesus for us today is; what are we hanging on to so tightly that abundant life alludes us and those around us? And it’s companion; what is it that we need to let go of to make way for truly spirit filled living?

Jesus reminds us today that following rules is important but tending to the hearts of people is more important. Now I like rules mostly when I am driving. For example when folks come in the lower parking lot, or when people stop while making a right hand turn from Westmoreland to Lock Lomond. At the end of the day though I get to where I am going.

St. Mark’s has rules or at least practices that make sense to some and not so much to others. Jesus reminds us that it is the human connection that is vital and important, not that I miss a hymn or mess up the order of worship. If our practice hinders me or another from fully participating in the life of our church then it is our perception of rules and practices that need challenging.

This is Labour Day weekend, a time to remember the long history of labour and the work that is emerging. Even there things changed, from workers being not more than slaves to the wealthy owners and aristocrats to workers having a place of esteem and worth. There was change and hearts and minds had to change, some easily some not so much so. It is important that we give the early champions of labour their due and continue to seek ways to make the relationship between labour and management advantageous to all.

All this being said the essential truth of Jesus to love one another, to do justice and show mercy is not debatable how we go about that may change over time but to do it does not. If the great teachings of Jesus to the Christian church and the world are melted down to “whatever feels right at the time”, then we are in grave danger of extinction. As we move into a time of planning and visioning at St. Mark’s we are committed to holding to the core teaching of Jesus and at the same time inviting ourselves to let go of those things that no longer serve us well. This summer, Kathy and I saw the movie “Winnie the Pooh”. There is great wisdom that come from that wee bear. There is a scene where Pooh is sitting on a log contemplating what to do and he says: “well, I suppose if I’m to go somewhere I’ll have to leave where I’m at”. Indeed, if we are to get somewhere we have to let go of some practices, words, rules that no longer serve our vision. We say thanks to the ways they have served us well in the past, let them go and then live into new and even scary ways of being, that will in time have to change again. The teaching of Jesus to love one another especially those that do not love you is what we cling to. How we do that has, has to and will change. Pooh’s wisdom is both spatial and spiritual, for we will have to leave where we are to get where Jesus is calling.

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