Verse of the Day

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Nativity of John the Baptist - Superseding the Third Sunday after Trinity Sunday


The Propers for today are found on Page 242-244, with the Collect first:

Saint John Baptist. [June 24.]
The Collect.
A
LMIGHTY God, by whose providence thy servant John Baptist was wonderfully born, and sent to prepare the way of thy Son our Saviour by preaching repentance; Make us so to follow his doctrine and holy life, that we may truly repent according to his preaching; and after his example constantly speak the truth, boldly rebuke vice, and patiently suffer for the truth’s sake; through the same thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

And, the collect the Third Sunday after Trinity which was superseded by the Feast of John the Baptist from Page 192:

Third Sunday after Trinity.
The Collect.

O
 LORD, we beseech thee mercifully to hear us; and grant that we, to whom thou hast given an hearty desire to pray, may, by thy mighty aid, be defended and comforted in all dangers and adversities; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Dru Arnold read today’s Epistle which came from the Fortieth Chapter of the Book of the Prophet Isaiah, beginning at the First Verse:

C
OMFORT ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God. Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry unto her, that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned: for she hath received of the Lord’s hand double for all her sins. The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight in the des- ert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low: and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain: and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it. The voice said, Cry. And he said, What shall I cry? All flesh is grass, and all the goodliness thereof is as the flower of the field: the grass withereth, the flower fadeth: because the spirit of the LORD bloweth upon it: surely the people is grass. The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand for ever. O  Zion, that bringest good tidings, get thee up into the high mountain; O Jerusalem, that bringest good tidings, lift up thy voice with strength; lift it up, be not afraid; say unto the cities of Judah, Behold your God! Behold, the Lord God will come with strong hand, and his arm shall rule for him: behold, his reward is with him, and his work before him. He shall feed his flock like a shepherd: he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young.

Deacon Striker Jack Arnold read this morning’s Holy Gospel, which came from the Gospel according to Saint Luke, the First Chapter, beginning at the Fifty-Seventh Verse:

E
LIZABETH’S full time came that she should be delivered; and she brought forth a son. And her neigh- bours and her cousins heard how the Lord had shewed great mercy upon her; and they rejoiced with her. And it came to pass, that on the eighth day they came to circum- cise the child; and they called him Zacharias, after the name of his father. And his mother answered and said, Not so; but he shall be called John. And they said unto her, There is none of thy kindred that is called by this name. And they made signs to his father, how he would have him called. And he asked for a writing table, and wrote, saying, His name is John. And they marvelled all. And his mouth was opened immediately, and his tongue loosed, and he spake, and praised God. And fear came on all that dwelt round about them: and all these sayings were noised abroad throughout all the hill country of Jud├Ža. And all they that heard them laid them up in their hearts, saying, What manner of child shall this be! And the hand of the Lord was with him. And his father Zacharias was filled with the Holy Ghost, and prophesied, saying, Blessed be the Lord God of Israel; for he hath visited and redeemed his people, and hath raised up an horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David; as he spake by the mouth of his holy  prophets, which have been since the world began: that we should be saved from our enemies, and from the hand of all that hate us; to perform the mercy promised to our fathers, and to remember his holy covenant; the oath which he sware to our father Abraham, that he would grant unto us, that we being delivered out of the hand of our enemies might serve him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before him, all the days of our life. And thou, child, shalt be called the prophet of the Highest: for thou shalt go before the face of the Lord to prepare his ways; to give knowledge of salvation unto his people by the remission of their sins, through the tender mercy of our God; whereby the day-spring from on high hath visited us, to give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace. And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, and was in the deserts till the day of his shewing unto Israel.

Sermon – Time and Action
Today’s sermon brought the Collect, Epistle and Gospel together and is partly contained in the forewords above.

Consider these words from the Collect:

sent to prepare the way of thy Son our Saviour by preaching repentance; Make us so to follow his doctrine and holy life, that we may truly repent according to his preaching; and after his example constantly speak the truth, boldly rebuke vice, and patiently suffer for the truth’s sake

John came to prepare the way for Jesus.  That is our job, too.  We need to prepare ourselves for Jesus and help to prepare the world for His coming.  Like John, we need to repent ourselves, tell the truth, not accept vice but rebuke it and accept we may not be liked by those who don’t like the truth.  By the way, when you think about telling the truth, remember the first person you have to be truthful to is yourself.  God knows the truth, you cannot lie to Him.  But, if you lie to yourself and believe the lie, you are in an almost hopeless situation.

The things of this earth are transient.  Life is eternal.  Thus, it is better to live well eternally than frivolously for a short time and in suffering for eternity.  Like Pinocchio, we so often confuse what we want with what we need and end up on Donkey Island surprised that we are not happy in the end.  Remember, Jesus brings happiness and freedom.  Through Him we find meaning.  In Him we find ourselves as we are meant to be.

The gospel talks about the dayspring from on high.  Did you ever wonder about that?  Dayspring is an old word which means the first light, the dawn, the beginning of the day, Jesus, the first light of this world!  John put his whole life into preparing the world for Jesus’ coming.  Should we do less?  Do we owe our Lord less than John did?  Through Him are we delivered from our enemies, including that last of all, eternal death.   Through Him we gain eternal life and it starts now!  If we want to be happy, the instructions are pretty clear.  How about giving a shot at doing what you are supposed to do, even though you may not “want” to do it?

Bishop Ogles’ Sermon
We are oft fortunate to get copies of Bishop Jerry’s sermon notes.  Today is one of those Sundays.  Today’s sermon starts off with the collect.  It will give you a lot to consider in your heart.

Sermon Notes
The Nativity of Saint John the Baptist – Superseding the Third Sunday after Trinity)
24 June 2012 Anno Domini

Saint John Baptist. [June 24.]
The Collect.
A
LMIGHTY God, by whose providence thy servant John Baptist was wonderfully born, and sent to prepare the way of thy Son our Saviour by preaching repentance; Make us so to follow his doctrine and holy life, that we may truly repent according to his preaching; and after his example constantly speak the truth, boldly rebuke vice, and patiently suffer for the truth’s sake; through the same thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

      In our readings and study, we often neglect to pay due attention to a great Saint of God who laid down his life in fulfilling the mission upon which God had sent him – to prepare the way of the LORD.  John was called from centuries past, and truly from before the foundation of the world, to be God's messenger. God named John, and God claimed John, for His own peculiar man. He named John before he was born just as God has named others before their conception. His Son, Jesus, was named before Christ was born, and Cyrus the Great was called, named and ordered before he was ever born – two hundred years before as a matter of fact, historical and biblical.
        "What is in a name?" Mr. Shakespeare asks. There is more than we commonly acknowledge. Our names label and identify who were are. There are good and bad connotations associated with names. Few people, for example, name their children Judas, or Attila, or Tamerlane. There are few young girls given the name Jezebel, as well. As we have studied earlier, the only name that is worthy of having is that name of ours written in the Lamb's Book of Life. If it is not there, it matters not our name.
        We are told in Holy Scripture that those who endure to the end shall be given a new name: "…..To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it." (Rev 2:17) The White Stone is judicial in nature representing the imputed righteousness of Christ for the believer. But why a new name that "no man knoweth saving he that believeth?"
        If we carry these old names of ours into heaven, we will be constantly reminded of the many sins and deeds that were committed under that old name. But God gives us a new name that is pure and free of any sinful attachments. No one can denigrate that new name because no one will know it except the Lord who gave it and the one who received it. Will it not be wonderful to truly start our eternal life with such a name?
        John lived up to his God-given name, and so should we.
1 And Jesus entered and passed through Jericho. 2 And, behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus, which was the chief among the publicans, and he was rich. 3 And he sought to see Jesus who he was; and could not for the press, because he was little of stature. 4 And he ran before, and climbed up into a sycomore tree to see him: for he was to pass that way. 5 And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up, and saw him, and said unto him, Zacchaeus, make haste, and come down; for to day I must abide at thy house. 6 And he made haste, and came down, and received him joyfully. 7 And when they saw it, they all murmured, saying, That he was gone to be guest with a man that is a sinner. 8 And Zacchaeus stood, and said unto the Lord; Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have taken any thing from any man by false accusation, I restore him fourfold. 9 And Jesus said unto him, This day is salvation come to this house, forsomuch as he also is a son of Abraham. 10 For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost. (Luke 19:1-10)
        This Gospel of Third Sunday after Trinity is one of my favorites.  It illustrates how we may be called by our names before we ever knew Christ intimately. It demonstrates that regardless our backgrounds, or our stature, we can be received by Christ if we are zealous in seeking Him.
        We should note some characteristic that identify Zacchaeus before proceeding: 1) he was a man of short stature; 2) he was rich; 3) he was not well liked among the people for he was a chief publican, or tax collector. He held the same respect of the people as a red-neck bar keeper; and 4) he was persistent in all that he did. That probably explains why he was a chief tax collector.
        He was drawn by an invisible power to Christ. That power was the Holy Spirit, though Zacchaeus considered his motive to be one of outright curiosity. And he sought to see Jesus who he was; and could not for the press, because he was little of stature If you have come to Christ, it is likely that you came by the same power.
        There were many, many people thronging Christ, so many that Zacchaeus could neither see over their tall heads, or break through the crowd. Quite often those who seem nearest to Christ seem to be the very ones that prevent others from approaching Him. It is true in the ordinary walk of life, and it is true in many churches.
        People who are short learn to overcome that handicap through years of effort. Actually, medical science informs us that shorter people live longer, but that is not a part of our focus. Zacchaeus was determined to see Christ, and he would do whatever was necessary to accomplish that purpose. He had heard many stories and rumors about this miracle worker. He may have doubted them, but he had to see for himself! I wish more Christian people would not simply allow their starving souls to be fed by one sermon on Sunday, but would want to see God's mysteries, and discover them, for themselves through diligent study.
     What could poor Zacchaeus do? If he lived in modern America, there would probably be a government answer to overcome his handicap. Perhaps every sycamore tree would have a ladder, or streets would be lined, according to city ordinances, so that there were banks on either side upon which short people could walk and see as well as every body else. But the American socialist model had not reached Jericho, and Zacchaeus had no such provision. He must find a solution on his own….and he did!
      And he ran before, and climbed up into a sycomore tree to see him: for he was to pass that way. Short legs can often run faster than long, gangly ones if the drive and determination are there. Zacchaeus had become quite clever in his thinking after a lifetime of having to overcome his little handicap. Sometimes the thing that we consider to be a handicap turns out to be a blessing. Zaachaeus assayed the direction the multitude was moving and ran ahead to a sycamore tree that the Holy Ghost had conveniently placed there many years before the need of Zacchaeus arose.
        Zacchaeus was not considered a good man by anyone. He was not only shorter than most men were, but he was lower than most in character as well. If you are in low places most of your life, you learn to rise above the common crowd. This Zaccaeus did. If you are low, the only way to move is UP. Zacchaeus went UP into the sycamore tree. Now he could see well, and even better than those who flocked about Christ. He was satisfied just to be able to see Jesus.  The fact that Christ would be dining in his house that evening never crossed the mind of Zacchaeus. Many sinners awake from bed in the morning never realizing that their evening meal will be with Christ!
         5 And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up, and saw him, and said unto him, Zacchaeus, make haste, and come down; for to day I must abide at thy house. I would have liked being a fly on the limb of the sycamore tree to see the face of Zacchaeus when Christ stopped beneath him and looked up at him. Perhaps he expected a reprimand for the dreadful life he had led.  Certainly, he did not expect Jesus to call his name. How would Jesus know HIS name? How, indeed!  We learn here that regardless of our astonishment, when Jesus calls us, we respond with haste. The next breath is not a guarantee. We must act while light remains. We learn, too, that, although we have put ourselves up higher up in prayer to see Christ, we must descend from our high station with humble obedience when we go before Christ. "Come down," is the command Christ gives all who would follow and dine with Him.
        What amazement to Zacchaeus that Christ would abide in his house that day. When Christ comes into our hearts, He does not make a temporary visit – He comes to Abide (live there forever).
        6 And he made haste, and came down, and received him joyfully. Friend, have you descended from your high perch and received Christ joyfully as this poor sinner, Zacchaeus, has done?
        And when they saw it, they all murmured, saying, That he was gone to be guest with a man that is a sinner. Don't we always have the murmurers among us in the church. They judge the dress, the hair, the shoes, the walk – everything of a stranger who comes into their company.  Had they, themselves, not been grievous sinners, and were not most of them still in that condition?
        And Zacchaeus stood, and said unto the Lord; Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have taken any thing from any man by false accusation, I restore him fourfold.  The Roman law required this compensation for fraud, but the Jewish law required only the principal plus one fifth. Zacchaeus determined to satisfy both laws. This was not asked of Zacchaeus by Christ, but Zacchaeus was living by a different standard now – it was his desire to undo as much wrong as it was possible for him to do. He now had Christ in his home, and in his heart.
         Now follows a beautiful expression of the covenant relationship that exists in the family of the man or woman who follows Christ: And Jesus said unto him, This day is salvation come to this house, forsomuch as he also is a son of Abraham. Salvation had come to the whole HOUSE of Zacchaeus – including the children. Zacchaeus may have been a lowly publican, but he was now fully a son of Abraham both in body and soul, for all who receive the Seed of Promise (Jesus Christ) are the true sons and daughters of Abraham and entitled to all rights and privileges of the Israel of God.
         10 For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost. Lost when? When they opened there eyes in birth, and all since the fall of Adam in the Garden at Eden. Christ comes to save that which was lost, and He is there for the most dreadful of sinners, and even those who presume themselves to be morally good. What of your soul, friend? Have you climbed a tree just for a glimpse of Christ, or have you folded your Bible after worship last Sunday and just now opened it for a glimpse? Zacchaeus got more than a glimpse, and so will all who earnestly seek Him!

Bishop Dennis Campbell’s Sunday Sermon
As is oft the case, we are honored to present Bishop Dennis’ Sunday sermon presented to his parish.  Dennis has a great sermon for the The Feast of the Nativity of John the Baptist which superseded the Third Sunday after Trinity:

God of Mercy
Psalm 98, Isaiah 40:1-11, Luke 1:57-80
Nativity of St. John the Baptist
24 June 2012
  
Saint John Baptist. [June 24.]
The Collect.
A
LMIGHTY God, by whose providence thy servant John Baptist was wonderfully born, and sent to prepare the way of thy Son our Saviour by preaching repentance; Make us so to follow his doctrine and holy life, that we may truly repent according to his preaching; and after his example constantly speak the truth, boldly rebuke vice, and patiently suffer for the truth’s sake; through the same thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

June 24 is known as the Feast of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist.  This is not because it is about John, though it is good to remember and honour those who have gone before us in the faith so that we may follow their good examples.  Rather it is about the God John served, which is the proper focus of any remembrance of such faithful people.  What was it that made John great among men?  It was his fathful service to God.

For this reason the Collect for this day asks God to enable us to learn the teaching and emulate the holy life of John.  The Epistle is the well-beloved passage of Isaiah 40:1-11, which encourages us to make straight the highway of our God.  Yes, it originally referred to the return of the Jews from Babylon, but it applies easily to us in the twenty-first century Church.  Let us make straight the highway of God that we, and others, may come to the heavenly Jerusalem by His grace.  The Gospel reading is Luke 1:57-80 and includes the "Song of Zacharias" after John was born.  This is a tremendous passage of Scripture which reminds us that John was sent to make straight the highway of God, to prepare the way for the Messiah by announcing His arrival and by calling people to make His way straight in their hearts by repenting of sin and getting serious about being the people of God as He directed them in the Scripture. People often wonder what it means to make straight the highway of God.  Here is the answer: repent of sin and get serious about being the people of God. This is all embodied in the word, "faith."  faith is the way you make straight the highway of God.

Psalm 98 addresses many of the same truths expressed by Zacharias as he, filled with the Holy Ghost, spoke his prophecy, which, by the way, is an excellent example of what prophecy was in the early New Testament era before it ceased due to the completion of the Bible.  We no longer have prophets or new prophecies because we have the Bible, but if we did, this is the kind of thing they would say.

Psalm 98. Cantate Domino.

O
 SING unto the Lord a new song; * for he hath done marvellous things.
 2 With his own right hand, and with his holy arm,*hath he gotten himself the victory.
3 The Lord declared his salvation; * his righteousness hath he openly showed in the sight of the heathen.
4 He hath remembered his mercy and truth toward the house of Israel; * and all the ends of the world have seen the salvation of our God.
5 Show yourselves joyful unto the Lord, all ye lands; * sing, rejoice, and give thanks.
6 Praise the Lord upon the harp; * sing to the harp with a psalm of thanksgiving.
7 With trumpets also and shawms, * O show yourselves joyful before the Lord, the King.
8 Let the sea make a noise, and all that therein is; * the round world, and they that dwell therein.
9 Let the floods clap their hands, and let the hills be joyful together before the Lord; * for he is come to judge the earth.
10 With righteousness shall he judge the world, * and the peoples with equity.

Zacharias said in  Luke 1:72 that God was preparing to perform the mercy promised to the fathers, and Psalm 98:4 says God "hath remembered His mercy and truth toward the house of Israel.  Both passages speak of deliverance from enemies, peace with God,  and the knowledge of salvation, making the Psalm an excellent choice whenever we remember the work and mission  of John the Baptizer.

Psalm 98 can easily be seen to convey two primary points.  Both are stated plainly in the first verse; "Sing unto the Lord a new song," and "He hath done marvellous things."  In verse 2, the Psalm moves into a rehearsal of the marvellous works of God.  It is interesting that the Psalm passes over the work of God's creation.  Nor does it speak of the Law of God.  Psalm 98 goes directly to the throne of grace in its proclamation of the mercy of God in the salvation of His people.

At first glance, we can see that the Psalm is about a great victory over some kind of worldly trouble.  It may have been a victory in battle against human enemies.  It may have been deliverance from something like illness or drought.  It may have been, as I believe, the deliverance of the Jews from their captivity in Babylon in 536 B.C.  But what they are delivered from is not mentioned because the important thing is that they were delivered.  God delivered them.  It was as though He reached down from Heaven with His own right hand and secured His victory and saved His people.

It is no wonder this Psalm is chosen for the day we remember John the Baptizer.  For John himself told us of the One who gained the ultimate victory for Himself, and, in so doing, saved His people, not from mere war and pestilence, but from the wrath of God.  In becoming a man, dying on the cross, and rising again Christ fulfilled every detail of the first four verses of Psalm 98.  I encourage you to open your Bible later today and, reading this Psalm, think about the way Christ accomplished these things.

The second point is, "sing unto the Lord."  It is an invitation to those who have tasted the grace of God, to honour God.  "Show yourselves joyful unto the Lord... sing, rejoice, and give thanks... Praise the Lord."  The Psalm is not talking here about some ecstatic or emotional experience.  It is talking about the praise and thanksgiving of faith, and holiness.  Our "new song" is a new life of believing God and obeying His commandments.  That is why we pray at the Communion Table that we may ever hereafter serve and please Him in newness of life. It is why we beseech Him every morning and evening to "give us that due sense of all thy mercies that our hearts may be unfeignedly thankful; and that we show forth thy praise, not only with our lips, but in our lives, by giving up ourselves to thy service, and by walking before thee in holiness and righteousness all our days; through Jesus Christ our Lord."

The Psalm ends with a vision of the whole earth united in the worship and love of God.  Even nature joins the chorus as the floods clap their hands and the hills are joyful to God.  It may be that here, as in other places in Scripture, the sea represents the Gentile nations (see Rev. 13:1), but here they are not fighting Israel, they are joining her in God's love and mercy (see Rev. 13:1).  This vision is being fulfilled even now.  For we are part of those Gentiles invited into the Church of God, forgiven of our sins and made heirs with Israel of the promises of God.  In Christ we are forgiven of our sins and restored to God's blessings.  All of His grace and love are ours to enjoy now and forever.  This was a major part of the message of John.  He was not the Light; he was not the Christ.  He came "to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe" (John 1:7).  All people have the opportunity to believe and be saved.  It is not limited to the Jews alone, or to the religious alone, or the good alone.  It is not for men only or Americans only.  It is for all people.  For "whosoever believeth in Him" will not perish in the eternal death of hell, but has everlasting life with Him in heaven (see Jn. 3:16).
 --
+Dennis Campbell

Bishop, Anglican Orthodox Church Diocese of Virginia
Rector, Holy Trinity Anglican Orthodox Church
Powhatan, Virginia

Affirm in Sin or Save from Sin
This passed on from Bishop Jerry:

Carrie Underwood, who sees herself as devoutly Christian, has officially spoken out in support of gay marriage.

Joseph Farah is a syndicated columnist and not a theologian[1], but his comments place him head and shoulders above the run-of-the-mill theologians of our day. (JLO)

Pop star Carrie Underwood should take her own advice, which she provided in one of her top hits, and let “Jesus Take the Wheel.”

Here’s some of what she had to say about that:
1.               “I don’t know what it’s like to be told I can’t marry somebody I love, and want to marry. … I can’t imagine how that must feel. I definitely think we should all have the right to love, and love publicly, the people that we want to love.”
2.              She said she attends a “gay friendly” church and doesn’t believe she has the right to judge anyone.
3.              “Above all, God wanted us to love others. It’s not about setting rules, or [saying] ‘everyone has to be like me.’ No. We’re all different. That’s what makes us special. We have to love each other and get on with each other. It’s not up to me to judge anybody.”
Now, I don’t mean to pick on a young celebrity who has obviously devoted most of her life to music and may have missed out on some key Bible studies.
In fact, what Underwood has to say here is actually indicative of a growing biblical illiteracy within what passes for the Body of Christ in America today – even among the clergy.
Here’s the bottom line: You can’t be a follower of Jesus and condone what He Himself describes as sin.
Neither can you truly love others by purposely not confronting their sin – and allowing them to be comfortable with their sin.
That’s not love.
It’s not about feelings, because, as the Bible explains, “every imagination of the thoughts of man’s heart is only evil continually.” The Bible doesn’t make this point once or twice – it’s a recurrent theme!
Followers of Jesus are not to be governed by their feelings. They are to be governed by the teachings of their Lord.
As far as “loving” others, we are commanded to do it – even our enemies. But the biblical view of love is not having sex with them – it’s sharing the gospel.
What is a “gay friendly” church? Is it one that affirms people in their sin? Or is it one that welcomes sinners and confronts them with it to bring them to the saving knowledge of Jesus? I suspect Carrie Underwood attends a church that does the former rather than the latter.
We’re all sinners, and we all need to be confronted with our sin to bring about repentance. To make people comfortable with their sin is the least loving thing we can do for them because we are facilitating their descent into hell for an eternity. How is that loving?
Carrie Underwood suggests God did not set rules. Yes, He did. The Ten Commandments are not suggestions. They represent the difference between life and death.
She says, “It’s not up to me to judge anybody.” This has become something of a mantra in the apostate church. But it is a misunderstanding of what Jesus meant when He said, “Judge not, that ye be not judged.” The context of that sermon makes it clear that Jesus meant to do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Others are not to be judged unfairly. He didn’t mean we aren’t supposed to confront people with their sin so they could be brought to repentance, because He Himself commanded us to do just that.
God did warn us not to profane His holy name.
I don’t think that just means misusing His name as a curse word. I think we do that when we represent ourselves as followers of God but betray His Word.
That’s blasphemy – and there’s just too much of it coming from people claiming to be Christians.


[1] Begging to differ with the boss, Mr. Farah is a theologian, many of those claiming to be are not.  SMILE

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