Saturday, December 24, 2011

The Eve of Christmas... Waiting

1 Earth was waiting, spent and restless,
with a mingled hope and fear;
and the faithful few were sighing,
'surely Lord the day is near;
the desire of all the nations,
it is time He should appear.'

2 Still the gods were in their temples,
but the ancient faith had fled;
and the priests stood by their altars
only for a piece of bread;
and the oracles were silent,
and the prophets all were dead.

3 In the sacred courts of Zion,
where the Lord had his abode,
there the money-changers trafficked,
and the sheep and oxen trod;
and the world, because of wisdom,
knew not either Lord or God.

4 Then the Spirit of the Highest
on a virgin meek came down,
and He burdened her with blessing,
and He pained her with renown;
For she bare the Lord's anointed,
for His cross and for His crown.

5 Earth for Him had groaned and travailed
since the ages first began;
for in Him was hid the secret
that through all the ages ran-
Son of Mary, Son of David,
Son of God, and Son of Man.

Walter C Smith (1824-1908)
8 7 8 7 8 7 Trochaic

Copied from HymnQuest 2011

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Fourth Week in Advent: Love

This week's Northumbria Community readings do include some familiar mentions of love, but I am opting to share three alternative ideas that emerged from my readings and pondering.

Firstly, Proverbs 15: 16 - 17
Better a little with the fear of the LORD than great wealth with turmoil. Better a meal of vegetables where there is love than a fattened calf with hatred.

I wonder how much fake jollity has been, or will be, expressed over groaning tables this Christmas... better the soup-run with love, beans on toast with a loved one, an apple halved with a friend...

Next, Matthew 13:31 - 32
Jesus told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field. Though it is the smallest of all your seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and perch in its branches.”

If love is a (the?) defining quality of the Kingdom of God, then is love like a mustard seed or a mustard plant? Shelter, shade, security... attributes of love

Lastly Psalm 1:1 -3 and Jeremiah 17:7-8
Happy are those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or take the path that sinners tread, or sit in the seat of scoffers; but their delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law they meditate day and night. They are like trees planted by streams of water, which yield their fruit in its season, and their leaves do not wither. In all that they do, they prosper.

Blessed are those who trust in the LORD, whose trust is the LORD. They shall be like a tree planted by water, sending out its roots by the stream. It shall not fear when heat comes, and its leaves shall stay green; in the year of drought it is not anxious, and it does not cease to bear fruit.

as a stream - refreshing, cleansing, invigorating, leading to flourishing and blossoming to fruitfulness.

God of love
Shelter and sustain us
Cleanse and refresh us
And may we
Share with others
The love you give us

As advent nears its end, what does it mean for us to look at the world through the lens of love? What does it mean for love to become incarnate where we are? Come, Lord Jesus, be born in us today...

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Imago Dei

One morning, God was staring at the wall. Not a blank wall, but not patterned either. It was a wall of chaos: bright colours, dark colours, swirling patterns, eternally dark and infinitely bright both at the same time. God wondered what could be made of the wall, so he reached out a hand and swirled the colours around. Soon order and pattern began to emerge: luscious pastoral greens coalesced, deep aqua blues combined, and this new creation seemed very pleasing to God.

After contemplating the wall for a while longer, God began to wonder what to do next, so he spoke gently to the wall, and a lustrous sheen began to appear. The wall became shiny, as if a layer of glass had been laid over the top of it. As God continued to stare at the wall, he could now see his own reflection within it. He saw himself inside his creation. When he moved his hand, the image of God waved back. When God smiled, his image smiled back. When God blew at the wall, the image blew a kiss back. God loved the image in the wall, and was happy with all that he had made.

But then something unexpected happened. The image of God reached out and punched the wall from the inside, and the shiny surface of the wall now had a flaw in it, like a stone-chip on a car windscreen. Suddenly the image of God didn’t look quite so much like God anymore: the flaw in the surface had damaged the reflection. The order that God had brought to the wall was distorted, and God was very sad. But still he stood there, staring at the wall and not turning away. Then the image hit the wall again, this time harder and angrier, as if trying to get out, trying to get at God. God flinched, but still he stared at the wall. The surface was by now crazed with cracks, and the image continued to fragment into lots of tiny, sharp fragments. God contemplated walking away from the wall, but knew that if he did so his image would vanish from the wall forever. Distorted as it was, it was still his image; it was still the image he had loved, waved at, and blown kisses to.

God wondered what to do next. And then had an idea. He took a few steps back, and threw himself violently at the wall. The force of the impact stunned him and shook the wall, and the millions of tiny sharp fragments ripped at his skin. Powered forward by the momentum of his run-up, God seemed for a moment to merge into the wall. His blood streaked the surface, and the mark of the impact was clear to see. But God himself had vanished.

After a while it was just possible to make out the faint image of God through the crazed, blood-stained, fragmented surface. God had gone into the wall. Gradually the image of God grew stronger and larger, as God walked up to the wall from the inside. He reached out his hand and carefully joined two broken shards together, and then two more, and then two more. Gradually, slowly, God began to repair the wall from within. As God repaired the wall, he looked at it very carefully, and started to see his own image reflected back.

The end.

(c) Simon Woodman, 2011.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Without warning

Something I wrote for our 9 Lessons: One Story service last night at Belle Vue Baptist Church.

Without warning
no expectation
no anticipation
God speaks.
God speaks to Abraham
That he will be blessed.
This Abraham is
Without children
No reproduction
No future generation
But God speaks
God speaks you will be blessed
To be a blessing

With hope unswerving
With trust unfailing
Abraham believes.
Abraham believes
That like stars in the sky
And sand on the beach
Will his descendants be

This aged man and his wife
Past child-bearing years
Are promised a son
And the God who spoke blessing
The God who made a promise
Is faithful to his word
Is truthful to his word
A child is given
A son is born
A one and only
A one and only and much loved

Without warning
no expectation
no anticipation
God speaks.
God speaks to Abraham
Take your son, your only son
Up the mountain
and there give his life as a sacrifice.
Without reason
No explanation
No justification

Abraham does as he is told
And he takes his
One and only
One and only and much loved
With him up the mountain

Without warning
no expectation
no anticipation
as Abraham is ready to strike
God speaks.
God speaks to Abraham
That he should refrain
And go no further
The one and only
The one and only and much loved
Son is spared

God speaks
God speaks again to Abraham
Because you have not withheld
Your one and only and much loved
You will be blessed
With a family
More numerous than the stars in the sky
More numerous than the sand on the beach
You will be blessed
To be a blessing

Another child is given
Another son is born
One of Abraham's family
The Father's one and only
One and only and much loved
Born to be a blessing

And God did not withhold
His one and only
But gave him up for all of us
God's love revealed:
He sent is
one and only and much loved
Into the world
That we might have life
That we might be blessed
To be a blessing

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Third Week in Advent: Joy

My decision to follow the Northumbria Community readings during Advent has shown me, afresh, how mischievous God's spirit is... some of these readings are at best puzzling, and many of them present what I have come over the week to term 'unjoy'... the opposite of what I understand joy to be.

To me, joy is not an emotion or a feeling, it is something inner, more akin to an attitude or a state of mind, a kind of indefatigable positivity that recognises reality as it really is but refuses to be defined, constrained or restrained by it. Unlike Pollyanna's ridiculous glad game (I'm glad that bad thing happened because now....) joy has a sense of defiance (that which happened is frankly awful, but I will not allow it to destroy me) and even, I am discovering mischief.

Unjoy is manifest in bitterness, in unkindness, in lack of generosity, in resentment... as we spot hints of unjoy we seek to subvert them with joy.

One reading appeared twice this week (I am sure a transcription error... or was it divine mischief?) and, to me, illustrates how Jesus, tempted to an life of unjoy, chose instead joy in all its costly authenticity...

Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the desert, where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing during those days, and at the end of them he was hungry. The devil said to him, "If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread." Jesus answered, "It is written: ‘Man does not live on bread alone.’" The devil led him up to a high place and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. And he said to him, "I will give you all their authority and splendor, for it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to. So if you worship me, it will all be yours." Jesus answered, "It is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God and serve him only.’" The devil led him to Jerusalem and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. "If you are the Son of God," he said, "throw yourself down from here. For it is written: "‘He will command his angels concerning you to guard you carefully; they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’" Jesus answered, "It says: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’" When the devil had finished all this tempting, he left him until an opportune time. (Luke 4: 1 - 13)

Unjoy... arising from a focus on material satisfaction, power or celebrity. I wonder what tempts us to unjoy rather than joy? I wonder what it means to look at the world through a lens of joy, spotting the hints of God's indefatigable positivity and gentle mischief?

God, grant us a fresh experience of inner joy
Remove from us the temptation to unjoy
And lead us in your mischievous path of unquenchable shalom

Tuesday, December 13, 2011


A few weeks ago I had a miscarriage. Not as awful as it sounds; I've been prepared for some time with the knowledge that I cannot bear children – I did my grieving long ago.

I mention it only because it did something very strange to me. It reminded me of the pain of hope. Advent hope is an oft spoken of theme; we talk of God’s people waiting for God’s promises to come true; we talk of a people waiting with expectation and hope for the time when their suffering would cease; we talk about Elizabeth and Zechariah, who were given a new hope for a child, long after they thought it was possible; we talk of the people walking in darkness who saw a great light. We talk of this wondrous feeling of hope that gets us through the dark and difficult days. Because at the end of all this waiting, there is a baby.

My own experience caused me to stop, and question for a moment. What about those for whom there isn’t a baby at the end of all the waiting? What about those waiting for that which will never come? What about those whose wait will end in bitter disappointment? Because it’s true, isn’t it, that as we celebrate the joy of Christmas, we often gloss over the bittersweet truth. The truth that for some, the lights will be taken down, the tree packed away and the wrapping recycled, and all that will be left is emptiness. The truth that the birth of Christ is a story not without tragedy, for as the baby was born, so a plot was being made to kill all the boys in Bethlehem under the age of two.

During Advent I cannot hide from the fact that at the end of my wait, there will never be a baby. Not for me. And so I think perhaps, as we work up to the joy of Christmas, I want to suggest that we don’t forget that sometimes hope is painful, hope leads to disappointment, and un-fulfilment. And perhaps sometimes it’s okay to voice that.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Counting Down the Days

(From Phil Durrant)

We seem to be constantly at war with time here in the West, there’s so little of it in the day, and so few days in the ledger for our lives. At our backs we always hear, Time’s winged chariot hurrying near. We can’t decide if we love or loath it. But our obsession leads us to strap time gauges to our wrists and wave our filofaxes around as if they were the Good Book. We flood our bodies with caffeine and our environments with artificial light. Come on people! Squeeze out every drop!

I do think that if whoever it was that invented time were to show up, we’d say ‘well it’s all right for you, you’re impervious, you’re unimpeachable’, and if there was a glimmer for a split second that he weren’t, we’d rig a show trial; tick-tock his head; pin him to the clock face and nail down his hands. ‘Three, six, nine o’clock and time for bed’, we’d say. ‘Remind us of our mortality will you? Well try it on for size; try tasting the inside of a tomb’. But then time’s creator would never lay himself open to such an onslaught, surely? Never himself become vulnerable to time, to the curse of ‘your days are numbered’. Or would he? I suppose that’s what we’re waiting to find out during Advent.

But we don’t want to wait do we? That’s time wasted. And to wait is to accept we are powerless and to acknowledge our mortality. We are a breath; our days a passing shadow. And no one wants to square up to that old chestnut. Not to mention that to wait is also to accept that only God is truly powerful and eternal. For a thousand years in your sight are like yesterday when it is past, or like a watch in the night. He is God and we most certainly are not.

But should we choose to force ourselves to wait, to grit our teeth and try on this discipline, perhaps we might experience God’s gracious ‘now’ which outstrips past, present, and future. Perhaps we’d experience in our persons the advent of his likeness in our members; a certain transparency to an everlasting glory.

Sunday, December 11, 2011


Gaudete in Domino semper

Today is the third Sunday of Advent, known as Gaudete Sunday in the western churches. The day marks a mid-point in the season and is, as such, a day of rejoicing. The name itself comes from the first words traditionally sung as the ministers and choir entered the church on this day ‘Gaudete in Domino semper’ or ‘Rejoice in the Lord always’.

Advent is a sombre season and one in which penitence is called for. The liturgical colour for Advent is purple. Gaudete Sunday, however, is a time of rejoicing and anticipation for the coming of the Lord. Today the colour is rose, a colour not to be used at other times during this season (this is why one of the candles in an Advent wreath is pink rather than purple).

So today the invitation changes: today, we do not simply adore ‘The Lord who is to come’ but we also rejoice and hail ‘The Lord who is now nigh and close at hand.’

Thursday, December 08, 2011

The nativity story

This was something I wrote for our christingle service last year. When performed we had objects to lift up whenever certain words were said.

First there was Adam and Eve
and a long while later there was Abraham
and a long while after that there was David
and a long long while after that we get to our story

There was Mary
no more than 14
in love with Joseph
who made things from wood

There was Mary
and then there was an angel
God has smiled on you and
you’re going to have a baby
Mary said ‘But …’ and then ‘Ok, if you say so’

There was Mary
getting bigger by the day
and there was Joseph
who was getting more and more
until the truth could be hidden no more
Joseph was not best pleased
until he had a dream
in which there was an angel
Mary's baby is from God
and he will be the saviour of the world
When Joseph woke up
he was well pleased
and took his Mary with baby inside
to be his wife

There was Mary
no more than 14
married to Joseph
and going to have a baby
5 months, 6, months, 7 months, 8
when the news was announced
that all the people had to go
back to where they were born to be counted

There was Mary
heavy with child
and Joseph on their way to Bethlehem
Mary was read to give birth
when they arrived
but there was no where to stay
apart from a stable

There was Mary
no more than 14
There was Joseph
who made things from wood
and then there was also Jesus
born in the night
and put to bed in an invented cot

There were shepherds
with their sheep
on a hillside
out in the cold night
and there was suddenly another angel
great news to tell
a baby is born
who will save the world
and there were suddenly more angels
and they were all singing
happy songs of joy

There were shepherds
running down the hillside
all the way to Bethlehem
and found the baby
the little child Jesus
and crying he did make

There were wise men
who gazed at the stars
and one day spotted a bright one
which they followed
many miles by camel.
When finally the star stopped
and so they did too
and there they found
no more than 14
and very tired
with Joseph
who made things from wood
also very tired
with Jesus
who was very much awake

There were wise men
with gifts
gold for a king
frankincense - maybe to cover the smell
for we all know what babies do
and myrrh
a strange gift that one
not one you would expect
not one you or I would think to give
but it was used some years later
but that's another story
for another day

There was Mary
no more than 14
and Joseph
who made things from wood
and there were shepherds
and their sheep
and there were wise men
with presents to give
and there was Jesus
born in the night
a miracle of God
sent from above
to bring us God's love

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Second Week in Advent - Peace

Using the Northumbria Community readings and looking for hints and glimpses that pertain to peace has not been easy, not least as we are treated to some that most erotic (or is it metaphorical?) scripture in the Song of Songs. Peace is an elusive quality it seems, and I have found the need to hunt quite hard to get anything more than the most trite or twee of connections. However, here are the three texts that I have found most helpful so far, see what you make of them!

In the morning, while it was still very dark, he got up and went out to a deserted place, and there he prayed. (Mark 1: 35)

"In your anger do not sin": Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry... Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. (Ephesians 4: 26; 32)

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand. When I awake, I am still with you. Psalm 139: 13 - 18

What does it mean for us to read scripture through the lens of peace? What does it mean for us to view our world through the same lens?

Give peace in our minds, Oh Lord,
Give peace in our hearts, Oh Lord,
Give peace in our world, Oh Lord,

Monday, December 05, 2011

singing salvation songs

Most of the country at the moment seems caught by the song Wherever You Are sung by the Military Wives Choir. Its testimony to the power of music and of song to connect with our souls – songs get inside us more than any other kind of speech … the oft repeated saying is that people learn what they think about God from their hymns and not the sermons they listen to. There is something about human beings that needs to make music, something that insists on song.

At the centre of our two readings this mornings are two songs, sung also by women – two women in response to the grace of God … Hannah sings in response of the gift of Samuel, Mary sings in response to the gift who will be Jesus …

... Hannah and Mary sing about a new God-transforming world that will unsettle … Israel are also good at the protest song, songs that sing about justice and politics … These women are not pristine, meek and mild … no Hannah and Mary are feisty, stubborn and unashamed, they are gospel singers … singers of God’s good news … they are singers of a deep and dangerous hope that God – the Mighty One, the Rock, the Holy Incomparable Untameable God of Israel who will not be opposed, who is faithful to the promises made to Abraham – this God is acting to save, to judge and make right all of creation … now that is something to sing about …

As Walter Bruggemann writes 'when people can no longer believe the promises of the rulers of this age, when the gifts of well-being are no longer given through the established channels, these songs voice an alternative to which the desperate faithful cling' (1 and 2 Samuel, WJK, 1990) … God is on the move … Mary’s song sets the whole tone for Luke’s gospel … we see this song made concrete in the words and actions of Jesus … this is a song that is both a promise of God who is acting, and a call to respond (HT to Maggi Dawn's Beginnings and Endings, BRF 2007) … Jesus is that promise and response, and for those of us who call him Lord, we receive both the promise that God is making the world right and at the same time the call to be those who live as those who are part of that new world … the first words of Jesus’ ministry pick up the song of his mother in the words of Isaiah 61 …

These songs are salvations songs, songs that re-imagine the world, songs that redefine our vision of life … in God’s world the poor are lifted high, the hungry are blessed … and these are our songs … the question then is what does it mean for us to sing them?

Hannah and Mary are our Advent voices, they are singing to us and how will we respond? … will we say, thanks Hannah and Mary a nice sentiment, a wonderful dream, but come on be real … will we say, Hannah and Mary I’m not sure its appropriate singing about God and singing about politics … will we say Hannah and Mary, its great you’re singing this song, but it’s a bit risky, a bit dangerous to be singing songs like that, so we wish you well … or will we say Hannah and Mary, is there a part for me, can you help me learn this song, I can’t keep silent any longer, let us sing salvation songs together …

Sunday, December 04, 2011

Bread of Life

Often when I was younger, many of our church youth leaders would tell us that ‘if Jesus had lived today, he would have had the last supper with a Big Mac and a Coke.’ I can understand why they may have said this, to reinforce the transformation of the mundane into the holy. But I wish they hadn’t.

There are, of course, many problems with the image of a ‘McEucharist’, but I want to take particular issue with the idea of the Eucharist as ‘fast food’.

It is easy to think of bread as a fast food in our culture. Bread is often a mass-produced, long-life commodity which we buy in and consume largely as a useful container for whatever lies between two slices. We don’t think about the bread much, it’s just always there.

Recently, though, I have started to play around with making my own bread. One thing which instantly struck me about the process is that it takes a lot of time. It’s not like baking a cake, where you mix some stuff up, and pop it in the oven. To make bread, you have to mix, knead (beat it about for 10-15 minutes) and then… wait.

To get a good loaf of bread takes time. You have to wait for the dough to rise. Then you knock all the air out and let it rise again. You may even knock it back and let it rise once more before you put it in the oven to cook. Even using fast-action yeast, you’re looking at at least 2 hours of waiting where you are not doing anything else at all. If you make sourdough (I haven’t yet!) it could be some days between you starting out and getting your first loaf.

I don’t make my own bread anything like every day – I don’t have time (or so I say). But I have learned something. The bread I do make is so much nicer than any I buy in Sainsbury’s. It’s more flavoursome and has more body to it. Good things, they say, come to those who wait.

Which brings us back to Advent, and to Jesus, who we remember through the breaking of bread, and who called himself the ‘bread of life’. All of that, though, comes later. Because in Advent, we wait for a while as we hope that the dough will rise…

Friday, December 02, 2011

Waiting as a way of life

(From Miriam Pugh)

Life in our village in the mountains of northern Tanzania is all about waiting. Most fundamentally, we wait for our visitors to sit in silence before we greet lest they should feel rushed and unwelcome in our houses. We wait for the food to be prepared and eaten together before we can take our leave in a house we visit. We wait for the rains before we can plough; we wait for the donkeys to complete their trek up the mountain before we can drink. We wait for the groom before the weddings can start, we wait for the village before meetings begin. We wait and begin to learn the discipling of just sitting, just being with people. Asla'am, asla'am naemamit - slowly does it, and you will achieve much.

Why wait?

In instant societies where a meal can be conveniently prepared in three minutes, and an entire weeks shop ordered on line in ten or fifteen, waiting is an inconvenience. Making someone else wait is the height of rudeness and shows real lack of consideration. Time is money.

But what if...what if waiting had a value in and of itself? What if learning to wait allowed a still peace to settle on your soul? What if waiting helped you develop ears to listen to the world around you? What if you had to wait so long on a regular basis that you found beyond the cultural pain threshhold of waiting, a suprisingly good thing was waiting for you?

Isaiah tells us that those who wait on God will renew their strength. Waiting on God brings us strength and expresses our dependence on him. Waiting on God can fill us with peace-that-passes-understanding as we know the one we are waiting on is completely faithful. Waiting on God means that we cannot and do not have to be the solution to all our problems. Waiting on God takes the focus away from busy tasks and towards the Giver of all life and love and truth.

Let us wait for Christ, our Messiah with a thirsty soul and a humble heart, knowing that He is the answer and we are not. Let us be ready to wait for a long time... and in the waiting find the peace that passes all our understanding.

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Exhausted from sorrow

(by David Kerrigan)

On Friday morning last week our staff met for prayer, this time led by our mission department. I was tired, and I had a huge amount to do, but I went. I didn’t seriously consider not going but I know the difference between “I ought to go” and “I really want to go.” This was an ought, but don’t tell anyone!

Least of all Sarah, who had organised different stations around the room, with verses that picked up on the prayers of Jesus in Luke’s gospel. We were encouraged to spend the time quietly and move around the different parts of the room. I went to the first one, sat down and read these words: “When he rose from prayer and went back to the disciples, he found them asleep, exhausted from sorrow.” (Luke 22:45) I didn’t move on. This was where I needed to be.

Now, this is the advent season, so why am I taking us to the scenes that belong more to Holy Week? Well, let’s make a connection. You see, I had never ‘seen’ those words before. Of course, I have read this passage many times. I know the story well, and I knew they fell asleep because they couldn’t stay awake. But I had never seen that they were exhausted from sorrow.

Fast forward a couple of millennia, and arguably much of the world today is what the disciples were then – exhausted from sorrow. That may not be your experience, but it is the experience of many who long to live their lives in peace and tranquillity, with a reasonable dollop of hope, yet circumstances mean they cannot do so.

They long to live in such a way that they feel secure, that their kids can get a half-decent education, or see a doctor reasonably easy when they’re sick. They long to see jobs out there that their children can aim for. They’re fearful lest their pension, if they have one at all, isn't enough to live on.

They want to know how they can be free from the sin that niggles away from their conscience and the despair that sucks the joy out of their very marrow.

They may want to know what life is about, and given half the chance they may even want to know if there is a God at all, let alone one that loves them.

And that’s the link to Advent because the primary response to these feelings, yearnings, hopes and frustrations is not a philosophy, and certainly not a political agenda nor a development programme.

The answer is a person, one who enters the human story the way we enter the story, as a babe. And the significance is that from that starting point as an infant he embodies (good word in this context) all our stories.

So if we want to know how to start, then start at Christmas for it’s the part of the divine story that almost all people understand. That’s why Carol services and once-in-a-year church attendance are OK. People come – drawn by something they can’t quite name.

Ordinary people. Exhausted people. People exhausted from sorrow.