Liturgical Freedom — To What End?

Divine Service (Lamb)

The rallying cry of the Enlightenment is one of personal autonomy; freedom. In the air we breathe, the template of freedom is the operating system directing our endeavors. In the Church, too, there is freedom. The question is, to what end?

Followers of the Radical Reformation are theological heirs of John Calvin and Ulrich Zwingli. They believed freedom from Rome gave them permission to depart from and remove the liturgical rites and practices of the medieval church. This is in marked contrast to Luther’s Reformation known as the Conservative Reformation. The Lutheran Reformers believed freedom from Rome gave them the freedom to keep those liturgical practices of the medieval church which did not promote idolatry. Lutherans kept these received liturgical practices for the sake of good order and teaching the faith.

We do not abolish the Mass, but religiously keep and defend it. Masses are celebrated among us every Lord’s Day and on the other festivals. The Sacrament is offered to those who wish to use it, after they have been examined and absolved. And the usual public ceremonies are observed, the series of lessons, of prayers, vestments, and other such things.[1]

A number of reasons can be cited for retaining the Western liturgy called the Mass once it was cleansed of false teaching. Retaining the historic liturgy helps make the Divine Service kid friendly serving what children need most: repetition which aids memorization. It is also elderly friendly aiding those who are slowly losing their ability to read, adapt, and remember. The Lord Jesus continues to pour his creative gifts upon the church in the form of hymns, etc., but these contributions compliment and do not replace what has been received from those who have gone before emphasizing the catholicity of the faith.

Referencing Formula of Concord Article X Matthew Harrison has written:

Yes, there could be liturgical divergence from territory to territory, but to use statements of the Formula, which allow freedom, to justify the current state of (non) liturgical disunity and individualism among American Lutherans is unjustified. The authors of the Formula simply did not in any way intend to sanction anything remotely like our current congregationalistic worship situation.[2]

Followers of the Radical Reformation used their newfound freedom to depart from the historic liturgical practice of the Western Church. In marked contrast the Lutheran used their freedom from Rome to keep the historic liturgical practice of the medieval church, i.e., the Western Mass without the false notion that by it we obtain salvation. A potpourri of quotes from the Lutheran Confessions and Luther shows that freedom was used to keep the Western Mass while cleansed of idolatrous practices:

  • Our churches teach that ceremonies ought to be observed that may be observed without sin. Also, ceremonies and other practices that are profitable for tranquility and good order in the Church (in particular, holy days, festivals, and the like) ought to be observed.[3]
  • However, ceremonies should be celebrated to teach people Scripture, that those admonished by the Word may conceive faith and godly fear, and may also pray. (This is the intent of ceremonies.)[4]
  • We cheerfully maintain the old traditions made in the Church for the sake of usefulness and peace. We interpret them in more moderate way and reject the opinion that holds they justify.[5]
  • This topic about traditions contains many and difficult controversial questions. … The repeal of ceremonies has its own evils and its own questions. … Still, we teach that freedom should be so controlled that the inexperienced may not be offended and, because of freedom’s abuse [Romans 14: 13–23], may not become more opposed to the true doctrine of the Gospel. Nothing in customary rites should be changed without a reasonable cause. So to nurture unity, old customs that can be kept without sin or great inconvenience should be kept. In this very assembly we have shown well enough that for love’s sake we do not refuse to keep adiaphora with others, even though they may be burdensome. We have judged that such public unity, which could indeed be produced without offending consciences, should be preferred.[6]
  • [W]hen you hold mass, sing and read uniformly, according to a common order—the same in one place as in another—because you see that the people want and need it and you wish to edify rather than confuse them. For you are there for their edification, as St. Paul says, “We have received authority not to destroy but to build up” [II Cor. 10:8]. If for yourselves you have no need of such uniformity, thank God. But the people need it. And what are you but servants of the people, as St. Paul says, II Corinthians 2 [1:24], “We are not lords over your faith, but rather your servants for the sake of Jesus Christ.”[7]

Lutherans do away with the false notion that liturgical rites and ceremonies bring salvation simply by “working the work”[8] but they embrace the notion that salutary rites and unity in practice edifies the baptized. What one does instructs. What one does not do also instructs.

No doubt the liturgy has changed over the centuries. What is of concern is when the identity of the liturgy is changed. When a person no longer worships as a Lutheran, that person slowly no longer believes as a Lutheran. In regards to worship we need to be aware of the axiom coined by Prosper of Aquitaine in the fifth century: “Lex orandi, lex credendi: the rule of worship is the rule of believing.”[9] If a person worships as a Baptist one will believe as a Baptist. If one worships as a Biblical Christian, i.e., a Lutheran, one will be enabled to believe as a Lutheran. Simply put, “Worship practices are manifestations of the doctrine of the church.”[10]

In clarity uncharacteristic of modern day churchmen, C.F.W. Walter said if you do not worship as a Lutheran you will slowly no longer believe as a Lutheran.

Church usages, excepting the case when confession of a divine truth is required, are indeed adiaphora. But they are nevertheless not without an import of their own. Congregations that adopt the church usages of the sects that surround them, will be apt to conform to their doctrines also, more easily and quickly than those that retain their Lutheran ceremonies. We should in Lutheran services, also when held in the English language, as much as possible use the old Lutheran forms, though they be said to be antiquated and not suiting this country.”[11]

Walther was prescient and we do well to heed his words. To worship in non-Lutheran ways makes a person more open to non-Lutheran theology. This insight is so simple as to be considered threatening and inflammatory by those who desire to depart from the use of the historic western liturgy. Affirming what Walther wrote Matthew Harrison states:

Here we note an unpublished study conducted in the early 1990s by Pr. Brian Saunders, formerly of Holy Cross Lutheran in Ft. Wayne. Pr. Saunders surveyed some 300 who regularly attended a “contemporary worship” service at Holy Cross (with rock band, testimonies, “liturgical” dance, etc…). One question asked: If you were to move to another community where there was a church which did not confess the true bodily presence of Christ in the Sacrament, nor baptize babies, but did worship in the way you do now; and there was an LC-MS congregation which used the liturgy/hymnal, which church would you join? 74% said they would opt out of Lutheranism. It has been said that historical-critical theology is merely a way for unbelievers to find haven in the church. I would suggest that much of “contemporary worship” is simply a way for the weak to be robbed of Lutheranism, yet remain within the Lutheran church.[12]

The freedom we have in Christ is not so we can do our own thing. The Lutheran Reformers confessed that freedom means we embrace and keep the liturgical practices of the church catholic but not by force or compulsion of anyone. Freedom’s operating system is a love for the Gospel and Jesus’ blood bought people so that we may serve and edify our neighbor with the Good News of God’s mercy in Christ. I come to a close with words from Martin Luther.

For even though from the viewpoint of faith, the external orders are free and can without scruples be changed by anyone at any time, yet from the viewpoint of love, you are not free to use this liberty, but bound to consider the edification of the common people, as St. Paul says, I Corinthians 14 [:40], “All things should be done to edify,” and I Corinthians 6 [:12], “All things are lawful for me, but not all things are helpful,” and I Corinthians 8 [:1], “Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up.” Think also of what he says there about those who have a knowledge of faith and of freedom, but who do not know how to use it; for they use it not for the edification of the people but for their own vainglory.[13]


In Christ,

Pastor Weber


[1] “Apology, Article XXIV, The Mass,” Concordia: The Lutheran Confessions, 2nd edition, gen. ed., Paul T. McCain (St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 2005): 220; AP XXIV:1.

[2] Matthew Harrison, “Martin Chemnitz and FC X,” in Mysteria Dei: Essays in Honor Kurt Marquart, ed., Paul McCain and John Stephenson (Fort Wayne: Concordia Theological Seminary Press, 1999), 83.

[3] “Augsburg Confession, Article XV, Church Ceremonies,” Concordia: The Lutheran Confessions, 2nd edition, gen. ed., Paul T. McCain (St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 2005): 39; AC XV:1.

[4] “Apology, Article XXIV, The Mass,” Concordia: The Lutheran Confessions, 2nd edition, gen. ed., Paul T. McCain (St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 2005): 220; AP XXIV:4.

[5] “Apology, Article XV, Human Traditions,” Concordia: The Lutheran Confessions, 2nd edition, gen. ed., Paul T. McCain (St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 2005): 193; AP XV:38.

[6] “Apology, Article XV, Human Traditions,” Concordia: The Lutheran Confessions, 2nd edition, gen. ed., Paul T. McCain (St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 2005): 194; AP XV:49-52.

[7] Martin Luther, “Liturgy and Hymns,” Luther’s Works, American Edition, 55 volumes, edited by J. Pelikan and H. T. Lehmann (St. Louis: Concordia and Philadelphia: Fortress, 1955-1986), 53:48.

[8] In Latin: “ex opere operato”.

[9] Roger Pittelko, “Worship and the Community of Faith,” in Lutheran History Worship and Practice, Fred Precht, ed (St. Louis: Concordia, 1993), 57.

[10] Ronald Feuerhahn, Liturgics: Do the Lutherans have a Confessional Stake in the Current Debate?, 7, (Paper presented at the Symposium on Lutheran Liturgy and Hymnody, CTS, Ft. Wayne, January 18, 1995).

[11] David Jay Webber, comp., What is the Lutheran Church a Liturgical Church: A Confessional Anthology <<>> [Accessed May 9, 2015] {(John R. Stephenson, “A Log in One’s Own Eye?”, in Confessional Lutheran Research Society Newsletter, Number 4 [Reformation 1986], p. 6. The quotation is from C. F. W. Walther, The Controversy Concerning Predestination [translated by August Croll] [Concordia Publishing House, 1881], pp. 77-78.)}

[12] Matthew Harrison, “Martin Chemnitz and FC X,” in Mysteria Dei: Essays in Honor Kurt Marquart, ed., Paul McCain and John Stephenson (Fort Wayne: Concordia Theological Seminary Press, 1999), 98-99, n. 31.

[13] Martin Luther, “Liturgy and Hymns,” Luther’s Works, American Edition, 55 volumes, edited by J. Pelikan and H. T. Lehmann (St. Louis: Concordia and Philadelphia: Fortress, 1955-1986), 53:47-48.


About Pastor Karl Weber

Karl has been serving St. Paul’s Richville LC and St. John’s, Ottertail, MN since Labor Day, 2004. He was raised in the Roman Church receiving his BA from Fordham University. Before going to seminary he was a computer programmer in Minneapolis. He served as a short term missionary in Guatemala and Kenya, East Africa. He spent time as a member of the ELCA and studied two years at Luther Seminary, St. Paul, MN pursing his M. Div. before transferring to the LCMS for theological reasons and continuing his studies at Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne. He was ordained in 1991 and earned his D. Min. in May 2002 from the same institution. He has contributed study notes to The Lutheran Study Bible. He enjoys deer hunting, going to the gym, swimming, and reading. He is married to Mary and has five wonderful children.


Liturgical Freedom — To What End? — 19 Comments

  1. Luther was for “retaining” the mass – doesn’t sound like it:

    “The Smalcald Articles

    Part II, Article II: Of the Mass.

    1] That the Mass in the Papacy must be the greatest and most horrible abomination, as it directly and powerfully conflicts with this chief article, and yet above and before all other popish idolatries it has been the chief and most specious. For it has been held that this sacrifice or work of the Mass, even though it be rendered by a wicked [and abandoned] scoundrel, frees men from sins, both in this life and also in purgatory, while only the Lamb of God shall and must do this, as has been said above. Of this article nothing is to be surrendered or conceded, because the first article does not allow it.

    2] If, perchance, there were reasonable Papists we might speak moderately and in a friendly way, thus: first, why they so rigidly uphold the Mass. For it is but a pure invention of men, and has not been commanded by God; and every invention of man we may [safely] discard, as Christ declares, Matt. 15:9: In vain do they worship Me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.

    3] Secondly. It is an unnecessary thing, which can be omitted without sin and danger.

    4] Thirdly. The Sacrament can be received in a better and more blessed way [more acceptable to God], (yea, the only blessed way), according to the institution of Christ. Why, then, do they drive the world to woe and [extreme] misery on account of a fictitious, unnecessary matter, which can be well obtained in another and more blessed way?

    5] Let [care be taken that] it be publicly preached to the people that the Mass as men’s twaddle [commentitious affair or human figment] can be omitted without sin, and that no one will be condemned who does not observe it, but that he can be saved in a better way without the Mass. I wager [Thus it will come to pass] that the Mass will then collapse of itself, not only among the insane [rude] common people, but also among all pious, Christian, reasonable, God-fearing hearts; and that the more, when they would hear that the Mass is a [very] dangerous thing, fabricated and invented without the will and Word of God.”

    Freedom appears to be to a “problem” so tyranny must be the solution!

    The Pope has lots of tyranny…..and supposedly the “unchanging” liturgy of the mass…..which in real practice has changed thousands of time and is insanely ununiform in actual practice despite the tyranny and fiction of “unity”

  2. Read Augsburg Confession article 24 Fred. Luther is protesting the sacrifice of the mass, the idea that grace was being merited by the performance of the mass.

    Augsburg article 28 has some good to say about using our liberty for submitting to a common order for the sake of others, something which the innovators forget in their selfishness.

  3. Great piece. The freedom of the Enlightenment is to do whatever you want. The freedom of the Christian is to do whatever is wise. American Lutherans have unfortunately adopted the former through a fear of legalism that forgets the necessary training in wisdom that man-made ordinance and regularity in practice provide. We’ve become like parents who are so terrified of stifling our children that we cannot bring ourselves to give them any boundaries and guidance at all.

  4. fred: Luther was for “retaining” the mass – doesn’t sound like it

    Luther was definitely opposed to using the term “mass,” and even before Luther began writing his Smalcald Articles in 1537.

    While in 1530 the German word, “Messe,” was used in the Augsburg Confession to refer to the Lord’s Supper, by 1533 Martin Luther no longer believed the term, “mass,” should be used, as clearly explained by Daniel Preus in his paper, “Luther and the Mass” (Logia, Vol X, No. 4, Reformation 2001, 14-20).

    Excerpts from that paper were provided in a March 14, 2012, BJS post and a March 15, 2012, BJS post.

    Luther even had a prayer against the use of the word, “mass”:

    May God grant to all devout Christians such hearts that when they hear the word “mass,” they might be frightened and make the sign of the cross as though it were the devil’s abomination; on the other hand, when they hear the word “sacrament” or “Lord’s Supper” they might dance for pure joy… (AE 38:227)

    That prayer is still useful for Lutherans today!

  5. “When a person no longer worships as a Lutheran, that person slowly no longer believes as a Lutheran.”

    Quote of the day, and one that I can confirm from personal encounters with “evangelicalism-lite” Lutherans who run to CoWo and the other “box-church” rubbish.

  6. I agree with the author’s main premise that the historic Lutheran liturgy be preserved for the reasons stated….

    However, when we are not precise in our use of terminology and historical accuracy, I think it is detracting to the main premise. It also perhaps inadvertently seems to imply at least a more common theological agreement in worship practice with Roman Catholicism that I don’t think from my study of the scriptures, the confessions and Luther’s writing is not really there.

    Crass error such as pointed out rightly with “COWO” (or whatever the fashionable term is today) is a danger is spotted (due to striking visual and auditory differences) readily and rightly warned against.

    However, sublime error – equally as destructive to souls – which is cloaked in the right visuals, sounds, even some or many liturgical commonalities is more perhaps more dangerous because it is harder to detect.

    Perhaps in America because of the often loud and visible presence of reformed COWO we often perceive that as a more immediate danger. This is an entirely understandable view point. But in the larger picture, Roman Catholicism is the largest denomination in America (over 40%) and growing. Worldwide, they claim over 1.1 billion adherents. And the have the centralized organization and financial resource promulgate a concerted attack on Reformation and Lutheran theological principle. A simple google search on any Reformation topic or Luther (the man) with usually render something akin to a 10-1 bias in favor of Roman Catholic www sites and apologetics over “protestant” let alone Lutheran.

    In any case, I would just argue for precision in our historical facts and terminology in order to maintain guard against radical threats from the works-righteousness enthusiasts to the theological “right” (Roman Catholic/Orthodox) and “left” (Reformed).

  7. To worship as a Lutheran must one be liturgical? The liturgy is certainly an important and useful tool in the Lutheran church; yet one can hardly say that being liturgical is the same as being Lutheran. In fact there are “christian” denominations that deny the Trinity yet practice liturgical worship. Lutherans gather around Word and Sacrament. If the way a Lutheran congregation worships is necessarily defined by the use of the means of grace alone, then the liturgy is not necessary for a Lutheran service. Instead of creating divisions within Christ’s Church and posting countless articles on the internet, shouldn’t we build one another other up in brotherly love?

  8. I have never seen or heard of liturgical dancing and have never been subjected to testimonies as part of worship. My exposure to “contemporary worship” takes the form of substituting passages and contemporizing language along with rather mushy, Hallmark card-like contemporary music mixed with a praise band. On the one hand, I think it foolish to waste the energy reinventing the wheel on the liturgy by finding substitute words. On the other, it challenges the worship board to properly express Lutheran theology and be liturgical – provide an order that is correct. For the most part, the order and words that are changed are those before the Preface.

    While the music cuts against my leanings and aesthetic sensibilities. For me, you can even keep “This is the feast…” wasn’t int he TLH, is not a necessary change, but many “conservative” Lutherans have no problem with it because it’s in the hymnal. That’s arbitrary. I am reminded that Luther said “But, above all, the Order is for the simple and for the young folk who must daily be exercised in the Scripture and God’s Word, to the end that they may become conversant with Scripture and expert in its use, ready and skilful in giving an answer for their faith, and able in time to teach others and aid in the advancement of the kingdom of Christ. For the sake of such, we must read, sing, preach, write, and compose; and if it could in any wise help or promote their interests, I would have all the bells pealing, and all the organs playing, and everything making a noise that could.” Certainly, the newer music and contemporized liturgy has a point IF it reaches and intended audience in the intended manner.

    For me, I do take the orthodox and catholic position that unity is important in public worship. So, to fred (“common theological agreement in worship practice with Roman Catholicism”) – yes, there is a common agreement, not on every level, but the structure of the liturgy, value of tradition, and desire for unity are things we have in common. we are united with the earliest Christians in maintaining liturgical ties. Those ties are to the Church Eternal and our worship is as much in heaven and with the saints in heaven and it is here.

    To Eesh Philoshippou, the gathering around Word and Sacrament occurs in a liturgical context. In public worship, we are sharing with the world, not only each other, statements of faith and we are doing it an orderly manner which invites participation. Your description is one that echoes Luther’s description of house worship and also the Puritan worship adopted by many American protestants: “But the third sort [of Divine Service], which the true type of Evangelical Order should embrace, must not be celebrated so publicly in the square amongst all and sundry. Those, however, who are desirous of being Christians in earnest, and are ready to profess the Gospel with hand and mouth, should register their names and assemble by themselves in some house to pray, to read, to baptize and to receive the sacrament and practise other Christian works..Here there would not be need of much fine singing. Here we could have baptism and the sacrament in short and simple fashion: and direct everything towards the Word and prayer and love. Here we should have a good short Catechism about the Creed, the Ten Commandments, and the Lord’s Prayer. In one word, if we only had people who longed to be Christians in earnest, Form and Order would soon shape itself.” Public worship, in the sanctuary, takes on a different purpose and character and liturgy is a necessary part of that character, What is divisive of the church is not insistence on being orderly in worship and maintaining liturgy, it is throwing out the liturgy which provides unity in expression of the true faith that creates division. Deciding that 2000 years of practice is simply superfluous is pretty divisive.

  9. These posts are getting too long to read, and repetitious. Essentially, they say “Liturgy is good; CoWo is bad”.
    Let us instead focus on the job the church was established to do: Luke 19:10, Matthew 28: 18-20, Acts 1:8.

  10. @Eesh Philoshippou #8

    It’s Lutheran to be liturgical. We often say “Lutheran” meaning “Christian” or “Biblical”. You may be perfectly orthodox Christian, but if you aren’t liturgical you aren’t Lutheran.

  11. You may be perfectly orthodox Christian, but if you aren’t liturgical you aren’t Lutheran.

    I don’t understand and don’t intend to be annoying.  Is “Lutheran” somehow better than being a perfectly orthodox Christian or is it just some kind of tribal identity?

  12. @jim #10

    As somebody who spent two decades in CoWo, I can say definitively that overall “Liturgy is good; CoWo is bad.”

    Perhaps you should watch this video about modern evangelicalism:

    Although the video is not specifically about CoWo, you can very easily see how CoWo ties into the bad theology presented here, and I can tell you for a fact that CoWo does a LOT more to take people in a more worldly direction than a more spiritual one.

  13. @John Rixe #12

    Well, the word Lutheran is ambiguous. It’s often used as synonymous to orthodox. But it is also used as meaning “as Luther and his followers did”. In this sense you must be liturgical to be Lutheran.

  14. “Well, the word Lutheran is ambiguous.”

    The word, “Lutheran,” is not ambiguous, although it is often abused and perverted by Lufauxrans.

    So what is it to be a Lutheran?

    Being a Lutheran is being a person who believes the truths of God’s Word, the Holy Bible, as they are correctly explained and taught in the Book of Concord. To do so is to confess the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Genuine Lutherans, confessional Lutherans, dare to insist that “All doctrines should conform to the standards [the Lutheran Confessions] set forth above. Whatever is contrary to them should be rejected and condemned as opposed to the unanimous declaration of our faith” (FC Ep. RN, 6).

    Excerpted from What is a Lutheran?

  15. Quoth John Rixe:

    I personally prefer the traditional liturgy but also think one can be a perfectly orthodox Christian attending (gasp) CoWo. I know lots of them.

    Yes, and there were undoubtedly lots of self-described “orthodox” Jews who attended the first recorded CoWo service in the history of the Church. You know, the one that took place at the foot of Mt. Sinai with the golden calf serving as celebrant.

    Lest you think I am joking here, think again. The debacle that took place at Mt. Sinai has a great deal in common with CoWo in the LCMS: the Israelites incorporated the most vile elements of the surrounding culture into their worship practices, invoking the name of the Lord to add an air of legitimacy to what they were doing. The result was an entirely human-centered abomination, as evidenced by the attendant debauchery.

    As has been pointed out numerous times on the praise-band threads — most eloquently by those who have left the shallow pool of evangelicalism / Church Growth-ism for the cool, deep baptismal waters of confessional Lutheranism — this CoWo stuff is not content-neutral. How we worship has has a profound effect on what we believe and confess. Go back and read the comments of the CoWo supporters on these threads. You will find a total disregard for the Office of the Holy Ministry. “Just you and me, Jesus! That’s all I need!” It’s all about what makes me feel good. This is rank enthusiasm.

    I suggest that you ask your “orthodox” CoWo friends this question: What does CoWo provide that the traditional liturgy / hymnody does not? If the answer is anything other than “Absolutely nothing,” then I submit that your friends are not, in any way, shape, or form, “orthodox Christians.” If the answer is, indeed, “Absolutely nothing,” then it raises another obvious question: Why did you start doing CoWo in the first place?

    Of course, it all comes down to this: They do it because they like it. They don’t care what anyone else is doing. They don’t care that they are pledged to “walk together” as members of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod. They are going to do what they want, everybody else be damned. This is, ipso facto, the very definition of not “walking together.” It is the very antithesis of “Synod.”

    So here’s the deal: If you engage in enthusiastic worship, then I refuse to express fellowship with you. If you entrust your pulpit to a DCE/DCO/teacher/lay minister, same deal. If you open your altar to all comers, ditto. I will not commune at your altar. I will not worship with you. I will not even set foot inside your church building. But know this: It is you, not I, who have broken fellowship.

    Tom W.

  16. Yes, and there were undoubtedly lots of self-described “orthodox” Jews who attended the first recorded CoWo service in the history of the Church. You know, the one that took place at the foot of Mt. Sinai with the golden calf serving as celebrant.

    I had never learned before that this was the first recorded CoWo service.  Thank you for sharing. smh

  17. Thank you Pastor Weber!
    As we believe, so should we worship. As we worship ~ we trend to believe. It is telling – how important Word & Sacrament is to the actual worship life of a particular congregation. In other words… “If is walks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quakes… it’s probably a duck.” I don’t think that one can long worship like a non-denominational evangelical… and remain Lutheran in any substantial way. And THAT is what too many of our well-meaning brothers are accomplishing with the deconstruction and reconfiguration of our historic liturgical practices. They are teaching our younger people to hunger and thirst for the fare cooked up for them in heterodox churches. Thanks again for your encouragement – though it was nearly a year ago. Timeless though. Blessings, my friend and brother.

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