Fr. Matthew Cashmore

Deacon in the Church of England. Trustee SPCK. Father, husband, son. Digital media & publishing consultant.

Category: Training (page 1 of 2)

Intercession Prayers 27th July 2014

Begged, borrowed and pinched from a few places – including the Church of England Topical Prayers page but broadly my own.


 

In the power of the Spirit and in union with Christ, let us pray to the Father.

The response to God of love is Hear our prayer:

God of love
Hear our prayer

Lord Jesus Christ, we pray for your Church.
We pray that all those embraced by the love of the
Church continue to cherish and mirror your love.
We pray that all those embraced by the love of the
Church welcome others into the tender Grace you taught us.
We pray for our leaders and we pray for unity in difference and love in diversity.
God of love
Hear our prayer

Lord Jesus Christ, we pray for peace,
bring near the day when wars shall cease
and poverty and pain shall end,
and that earth may know the peace of heaven.

We pray for peace in Gaza and Israel:
for an end to hostilities,
for comfort and help for all who suffer,
and for reconciliation between Palestine and Israel.

We pray for the Christians of Mosul,
a city where Christian and Muslim have lived together for over 1400 years.
We pray for healing, peace and restoration.
Bring light out of this darkness and hope from despair
that guided by your Holy Spirit, all your children may find a new way forward together based on your love for us all.

We pray for those damaged by the fighting in Syria.
To the wounded and injured:
To the terrified who are living in shock:
To the hungry and homeless, refugee and exile:

Give strength Lord Jesus Christ
To those bringing humanitarian aid:
To those giving medical assistance:
To those offering counsel and care:
For all making the sacrifice of love:

God of love
Hear our prayer

Lord Jesus Christ, we pray for those in pain or suffering.
We pray for those who are ill in our community

God of love
Hear our prayer

Let us commend ourselves, and all for whom we pray,
to the mercy and protection of God.

Amen

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I have news…

…I’ve been quiet here as I headed to my BAP. I headed off on a vocational retreat a short while ago to start to move from preparation to prayer ahead of the event and put aside all non-prayer things (including this blog).

My BAP was on May 12th – 14th up at Stafford… the news? It was a yes! I have been recommended for training. There are lots of options in front of me right now and I still need to de-brief with my DDO and go through the report. My preference is to go to Ripon in Cuddesdon and study ‘mixed mode’. I have some work to do to persuade everyone involved that it’s the right thing.

I am very happy and excited about the coming years. I’m almost an Ordinand 🙂

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The Five Marks of Mission

The question posed for me to answer (on no more than two sides of A4) was:

Assess myself and my Church against the five marks. Where are we?

The five marks are: (via)

  • To proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom
  • To teach, baptise and nurture new believers
  • To respond to human need by loving service
  • To seek to transform unjust structures of society, to challenge violence of every kind and to pursue peace and reconciliation
  • To strive to safeguard the integrity of creation and sustain and renew the life of the earth

Again I struggled to answer this on two sides of A4 and ended up editing quite heavily. I did leave the first mark, for the most part, unscathed. You’ll see why as you read on.

Cross, Sunset, Holy Island, Northumberland by Ian Britton

To proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom

This is the central, most important aspect of these five marks for me – everything else is either derivative or carries this first mark with them in action. By carrying out the other four marks you are, through your actions, proclaiming the Good News of the Kingdom.

As the website of the Anglican Communion also points out this first mark is a summary of what all mission is about, because it’s based on Jesus’ own summary of mission. The website points to several readings on this point, but the one that best describes this first mark for me is Mark 1: 16-19.

Jesus calls his first disciples
16 As Jesus walked beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. 17 ‘Come, follow me.’ Jesus said, ‘and I will send you out to fish for people.’ 18 At once they left their nets and followed him. (NIV 2011).

To now sit and assess myself and my Church against this first mark is to assess all marks of mission. Do I proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom? Am I a disciple of Jesus? Does my Church proclaim the Good News? Does my Church create disciples?

I could write several pages on just the first question. I am humble in my belief that I do proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom – I say humble because whilst my calling, my sense of mission is so wrapped up in this first mark I am also horribly aware of how far short I fall. I believe the best way to proclaim the Good News is through action. I so often find myself asking where God is in my actions, where he is in my decisions. Too many nights I sit and pray and seek forgiveness for actions that do not proclaim His Good News.

My Church is somewhat different. Bledlow connects with the parish in proclaiming the Good News of the Kingdom in the way one would expect. There are a wide variety of services – both liturgical and some new non-liturgical options that connect with people in a way that opens the doors of the building to hear the Good News – but also stay with you afterwards. I love the pew sheets because they allow you to take the readings away and re-read them – I’m sure most people don’t do this, but it’s there when people need it. Jennifer is tireless in pursuit of this first mark – supported by a community that loves Christ and the parish, it’s people and it’s Church.

Throughout the Gospels we are told of Jesus proclaiming the Good News to the poor,

“So he replied to the messengers, ‘Go back and report to John what you have seen and heard: the blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor.” Luke 7:22 NIV 2011.

Bledlow has its share of people who may be considered poor – but on the whole we are a very wealthy parish. Mission here, for me, is about bringing the Church to the door of the poor and letting them see the challenges people face every day. It’s about opening the doors of our Church so that those inside can see out. It’s about proclaiming the Good News to those already within the Church – it could be argued that this is a more challenging job!

To teach, baptise and nurture new believers

I strongly feel that by proclaiming the Good News we nurture new believers – and with that in mind it is fair to say that I nurture new believers where I am able. I actively demonstrate my faith and welcome conversation about the Church and about Christ wherever I am – in work, in the pub and in Church. I pray that I teach when I lead the odd service for families and when I talk to people about Christ in a less formal way – I think I can get a great deal better at that. Each time I visit a new Church or see a teacher I’ve not seen before I am mentally scribbling notes to help improve my teaching. This has now manifested in a ‘ways I can be better’ document, and an ‘ideas for church’ document I keep on my phone.

Holy Trinity certainly teaches, baptises and nurtures new believers in a way that is consistent with the type of parish and the congregation. Jennifer & Matthew are incredibly welcoming and through events like the village Fete, high-days and holidays engage with the wider community to enable nurture for those on the edges of faith.

To respond to human need by loving service

How can you teach, nurture and proclaim the Good News without responding to human need by loving service? You cannot teach without an understanding of the person or people in front of you; you cannot lead without serving and you cannot proclaim the Good News unless you offer loving service in the name of Christ.

Do I respond to human need by loving service? I hope I do – I hope that my vocation with the Church mirrors that of my time spent nursing, working in care homes and with other vulnerable people. This is at the heart of my faith. This is where I find God most easily.

My Church is a loving community of people who really care for each other. They come together in times of pain and in times of celebration – they hold each other carefully and prayerfully. There is so little politics, so little of the expected cliques and gossip that can harm a congregation. I am blessed to be part of this Church.

To seek to transform unjust structures of society, to challenge violence of every kind and to pursue peace and reconciliation

Christians throughout the world combat unjust structures and challenge violence every day – as a family we are strong and by supporting charities and other NGOs that work in these areas we can have a large impact. I try to support these through both financial donations and by alerting others to the work that they do – as does my Church.

Beyond that we have work to do in our every day lives – do I, as a Director of Blackwell’s ensure our structures are supportive, ethical and ‘good’? I believe I do and I work hard with the board to ensure that fairness is felt throughout the company. I’m not always successful and it’s easy to be ethical when you’re profitable. When you’re a company that loses money, and has done for several years, that can be more of a challenge.

To strive to safeguard the integrity of creation and sustain and renew the life of the earth

This mark very much falls into the field of ‘looking after God’s creation’ for me. Taking care of our world and the people in it. On a personal note I ensure I recycle, encourage others to do so and to also think about their impact on the world. I do this in a very typical English middle class way – I recycle – therefore I take care of the world. It is of course a great deal more complicated than that and this mark is the most difficult for me to asses as I do so little to uphold it. I need a good deal more thought and prayer on this.

My Church carries out recycling, promotes charities that care for the world – but I’m sure there’s more we could be doing in this area.

Note on bible verses. 

At this stage in my Biblical study I can’t say that I have a favourite Bible. I skip between whichever is nearest to hand and I have to say that my little travel NIV Bible from Hodder Faith is nearly always within reach so tends to be my first port of call. Most of this piece was written in Starbucks in High Wycombe so that was the Bible I had with me. At home I tend to use the Collins NRSV Anglicised Version for the Church of England and if I’m preparing something for the children in church I fall back on old faithful – The Good News Bible.

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What does the Nicene Creed mean to me?

Taking into account what I wrote here – here’s my second piece of writing for my Area Director of Ordinands.

What does the Nicene Creed mean to me?
What would I change in the Creed if I had the opportunity?

It would be very easy in this short essay to explore the theological meaning and history of the Nicene Creed. I spent the first two weeks after you posed these questions reading deeply into the history and theology before returning to the questions of my view of the Creed and what I would like to change given the opportunity.

I’m not sure that at this stage in my faiths maturity and development I am in a position to offer any coherent view of the Creed and what I would want to see changed. I have found this essay difficult to complete. I would be far more comfortable writing an in-depth academic piece. However, part of the discernment process and my training will require the exploration of areas in which I feel comfortable and force me to engage in areas where I am not comfortable — and the Creed is as good a place to start.

For a very long time the Creed was something I read on Sunday mornings in Church with Grandma (it’s not something I read in chapel). I always had to read it — it never stayed with me — and over time it began to stick and it disappeared into the background dogma of a Sunday service. When I met Catherine and we decided to marry I was required to attend lessons with her at the Catholic cathedral in Birmingham and at her parish Church in Newport. During those lessons we spent some time examining the Creed and it came as a surprise that it was word for word the same Creed I’d been saying in the Church in Wales with Grandma for so many years — indeed I found it surprising that so many of our services appear to follow much of the same liturgy at times.

I was surprised at how much of the Creed had passed me by each Sunday morning — despite the number of times I had read it I still did not appreciate the depth of the Creed or even begin to understand its implications.

As I learnt more about the Creed and its history it became apparent that the aim was to bring people of differing — you could say, arguing faiths and schools of theology together. It is at its very heart, indeed at its very inception, the definition of an ecumenical declaration.

When you sit and read the Creed it stands out as a declaration. Here we are, this is what we believe, and we believe this together. We are one Church, we are one family and we believe in the Trinity of Father, Son and Holy Spirit. That’s incredibly powerful and the more you study and read the Creed the more that settles on you and demands to be taken more seriously. Reading it on a Sunday morning does not engage you in the same way as studying it does.

The first verse is wonderfully simple. It’s not even a full verse; just a simple, single, sentence — a pure declaration of faith. It is comfortable and easy to remember. A simple introduction to the Creed.

As we move forward from the pure declaration of the first verse into the second we are again presented with a firm collective declaration ‘We believe…’ before moving onto the most important narrative of the New Testament – that of the birth, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. This is the most central tenet of our faith and reminds us — along with the word ‘we’ that we all believe this, that our church — along with others all over the world — hold this central tenet to be self evident.

It doesn’t stop there. The second verse moves beyond the resurrection of Christ to outline — to declare — that Jesus is sat at the right hand of the Father and that he will come again. The beginning of the thread of Trinity within the Creed.

The third and final verse again starts with ‘We believe…’ and adds the final element of the Trinity – the Holy Spirit. It anchors our belief in the Holy Spirit and makes clear that the Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son – very clearly stating the Trinity as one in the Father and not as a separate divine presences.

For me the final few lines of the last verse are the most important — the least clearly stated but the most important ‘We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church’ — catholic as in all embracing and again the ‘We believe…’. Given the history and birth of the Creed this seems to be the verse that brings everything else together. We accept that there are many facets of church, we accept that there are many different ways of seeing and worshiping Christ but here are the central tenets, here is what our faith is, here is what we’ll stand together for.

We come together in this declaration of our faith — we are Christians in a worldwide family. Every Church that says this together on Sunday morning is declaring their part in the family of Christ and in the worldwide family of Christians – that is the most powerful aspect of the Creed in todays Christianity and one I think is perhaps lost on the vast majority of people who recite it.

What would I change?

The only time I ever get frustrated with liturgy, just as I do with work projects or documents, is when the language gets in the way of the meaning. The Creed is not terribly onion like — there are not many layers of understanding going on here. You could theoretically argue the theology of the declaration but the meaning is very clear to everyone who reads or speaks it. But whilst the meaning is clear — the understanding is not — without context.

I would argue that the Creed should not be altered, but would suggest that perhaps some more explanation should be offered to the congregation before the Creed is said. In the same way that each Sunday I lead the Children’s talk or the family service I talk of our ‘family prayer’ the ‘prayer that Jesus taught us to say together’ I would suggest that the Creed could use some placement — some context — an understanding that people all over the world are saying this same Creed at their Churches. A way to ensure that the repetition of the Creed does not push it to the back of peoples mind, a way to ensure that the dogma of the words slip from understanding but retain some importance in the liturgy each Sunday.

After writing this essay I’m going to work on a session for the Children’s Explorer mornings on the Creed. I’m not sure what shape that will take yet but I feel that the youngest members of our congregation need to grasp that we are one holy catholic and apostolic Church – wherever you chose to worship, wherever you are in the world.

 

 

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What is a priest and why do I want to be one?

I’ve been trying to figure out if this is the right thing to do or not (posting my work that is!) The reality is this blog gets between zero and one hit a week (and I suspect that one is Google) – I think that’s a good thing and this is really a personal diary of a journey that at some point in the future may help others on the same path but also provide a place for me to re-discover what I was thinking and doing as I stepped through the process.

So if you are reading this please take these posts as they’re intended and offer your feedback, thoughts and prayers.

Part of the selection  process involves writing short essays on certain topics. The first I was asked to write was to help me understand if my calling was towards offering as a Deacon or as a Priest. I’ve posted what I wrote below – I’ll continue to post these but only after I’ve presented them and had feedback on them from my Area Director of Ordinands. Your thoughts are very welcome on them. They are designed (from what I can tell so far) to encourage me to think and pray about a certain topic in detail.

What is a priest and why do I want to be one?

This is a more difficult subject to write on than I first imagined. I needed to separate the titles from the practice – the words from the action. I feel this exercise has helped me understand the differences between a ‘deacon’ and a ‘priest’ and what my calling is pointing me towards.

The difficulty I had with the title of priest is the almost incessant use of the word ‘leader’. I made the mistake of confusing the leadership of a priest with the secular meaning of the word – something I’m very familiar with. I lead people on a daily basis – I write and help people understand large complex strategies and how that translates into tactical work each week. It would be easy to draw a parallel with the role of a priest as leader; a role that requires him or her to help people understand a complex big picture and what that means day-to-day.

I think this is a mistake. I don’t see, and I certainly can’t discern my calling into the role of ‘translation of faith’ – a diktat on what it means to be a Christian and engage with the Church. In trying to write this short essay I have searched for a way to answer this question – the more I think and pray on it the more I see the role of priest as a farmer.

A farmer is responsible for his farm – it can be 1,500 acres, or just a small plot – regardless of the size his duties remain the same. He needs to care for everyone within his farm – from the gentleman who comes to collect the milk, to the poacher hiding in the woods. He is a good neighbour to other farmers (even if they are growing crops he doesn’t think are worth while), he is part of an ecosystem that needs to be cared for in partnership with a large number of other people.

He needs to care for his stock, plan for their care and lead them with gentle kindness to ensure they are safe and can find what they need. A farmer does not chain his horse to the trough because he knows the water is good for him, rather he ensures that the trough is clean, available and always full to the brim with water. He can show the horse where the trough is and help the horse by making sure his field is clear of obstacles.

I understand that this may appear quite trite; a rather obvious metaphor for a priest, but one that does help me to voice my understanding of a priest. A priest needs to lead a congregation in worship, he needs to lead his congregation in prayer and he needs to lead his congregation in a maturing of their faith. A priest does not dictate to his congregation what they must and must not do – he gives them the tools to discover those truths for themselves.

A priest’s congregation is not limited to those sitting in the pews on a Sunday morning – or if you’re lucky at morning prayer! A priest in today’s society is a farmer without land. He must connect with people outside his church building – he must see Church all around him and help others to see that as well. Importantly he must help those inside the Church to see those outside – this is a part of priesthood that feels much more diaconal in service rather than priestly in leadership. Through this work I have come to understand to a much greater degree the role of deacon in every priest.

This is where I see my role as a priest being. On the edges of Church offering people with faith – who may not be ready to come to church – an opportunity to discuss their faith, an opportunity to find faith – an opportunity to have a conversation with someone who won’t respond with a raised eyebrow and question their reason.

I work in an industry based on science, on hard research and on not making decisions based on gut feeling or intuition. Digital research and development requires firm evidence before moving forward, if you don’t have that evidence then you stop re-assess and retest before trying again. It means people with faith can be left feeling like outsiders. There is no-one in their work life that they can talk to or mature their faith with. Talking about faith is seen as a weakness. I want to reach out to those people, to that congregation if you like, to be a visible person of faith who is also a working member of their industry. I want to show people that you can be an evidence based professional and a person of faith – that whilst science answers our questions on how – faith helps us answer questions on why. Science and faith are not enemies; they are brother parts of the same journey towards understanding.

As a priest I will be able to fully engage with this community – and importantly, something I’d not fully understood – play a full role within my parish. Leading worship, leading prayer, helping people of a parish marry, take communion and mature their faith is something that will ground my ministry and enhance it – it’s not about being a manager of a church building. This is the heart of ministry and I had not fully grasped that until I walked through this process.

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Working through selection

Over the past year I’ve been working through this calling – trying to discern what it is God wants me to do. Is this a calling to be more involved in Church? Is it a calling to more ministry with Children? Is it to a more formal role within the Church (Lay Minister?) or is the calling towards ordination – Deacon / Priest?

I’ve taken my time to try and understand my calling. I headed off on retreat to The Well in Milton Keynes, I’ve prayed, I’ve thought and I’ve talked to a lot of people – both lay and ordained. Ultimately my calling is falling into shape around ordained ministry – specifically  ministry within my industry (media, R&D, the digital world) where faith is often approached with at best cynicism and at worst outright hostility.  There is a ministry here to people that are on the edge of faith and who have a hunger to discover more but feel unable to.

I’m now working through selection with the Area Director of Ordinands – the aim is to discern my calling, to test my calling and and go through the very early stages of understanding if this is the right thing for me, for the Church and is God’s will.

One of the wonderful outcomes of this process so far is the discovery of discipline in prayer, which I suspect will form its own post at some point. I’ve also had the most wonderful conversations with people about faith – both Christians and those of other faiths –  going through this process has opened me up to wider conversations and engagements about faith. I’ve had emails from people I’ve not spoken to for years offering me support and prayer and discovered old friends who are also feeling a call to God in one form or another.

Wherever this calling takes me, wherever God takes me, this entire process has helped me mature my faith, discover more wonderful connections with others and introduced me to a wider world of faith.

Please pray for me as I move forward in this process – on Sunday 24th I’ll be confirmed into the Church of England – the service starts at 6pm at  St John’s in Lacey Green. If you can come that would be wonderful – if you can’t please hold me in your prayers.

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Finalising the kit

TravelDri-Plus

It’s fair to say we may have been a little obsessed with our kit. The problem was of course, that we were delayed by a year – and there’s only so much time you can take up obsessing over visas and injections – so kit seemed a harmless hobby.

I’ve lost count of the tents we’ve tested, taken on the road and now finally, regretfully in some cases, rejected. This weekend we headed down to see Les from Traveldri-Plus – the mecca for anyone kitting themselves out with kit that will last more than one festival (Blacks – sorry guys you don’t hold a torch to this guy).

This is our second trip to Devon, and once again, for a chap who is running a business, we were blown away by our welcome (thanks for the sandwiches and tea!) and by his amazing depth of knowledge about this stuff.

I’ll take some more time tomorrow to write up what kit we actually bought and what the final tent arrangements are, but this photo may give you an idea until then 😉

Three in a row

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The velvet highways of the Land of My Fathers.

CBF600 fully loadedFully loaded the CBF600 is starting to feel like she’s wallowing, and frankly unless I get more training, that’s exactly what I’ll be doing all the way to Moscow. The problem I think is a simple one of too much weight combined with too little experience sledging around pristine Welsh tarmac right into the heart of the Beacons; something I solved this weekend.

We headed out from St Albans bright and early just before noon, why we never manage to leave on time is beyond me, we plan well, we all have good intentions, but we always head out on the first day stupidly late. Fortunately this time round the nights are longer and the prospect of pitching tents and cooking in the dark wasn’t a realistic one. Heading out through Hertfordshire, into Oxfordshire and beyond I started to get really excited about going home, there’s nothing as beautiful as the Welsh hills in the evening light.

Fields of goldAs we crossed the border (somewhere in Shropshire) I punched the air with Joy – I was home. The joy was short lived however, five miles later we passed back into England and seemingly away from God’s own land. Fear not, we slowly snaked our way round the A-Roads and crossed once again into Wales. Now we were really training, passing fields of gold, rising so fast into the mountains that our ears popped every mile or so. The air cleared, the pollen receded and was replaced by the sweet sound of new born lambs chasing each other across fields of short grass. I started to relax, and rather forgot the veritable trailer of stuff on the back of my bike, it’s amazing how badly a bike can corner when you’re heading into a 90 degree hairpin at 60 miles an hour.

The nights entertainment was helped along by a field of horses who took great interest in our attempts to get our new Trangia MSR burners working. But we were the ones laughing once we’d got them fired up, rice, tuna and asparagus soup kept us warm and full as we played black jack, smoked our cigars and kept the chill away with a small tot of whisky. All of this took place under the latest addition to our kit list – a 20 foot awning that will keep all but the most determined rain off us come the worst.

CBF600 in it's element - the twisty single roads of WalesRiding back down the A470, A469, and other well known Welsh roads it occurred to me how well they were being looked after. None of the usual dips, holes or ripples; just smooth comfortable and grippy tarmac. If the roads on our trip are half as good we wont have a problem, but I have a feeling Poland may have a different opinion on how roads should be looked after. Getting home was a welcome relief, as was the warm bath and glass of wine – I wonder how I’ll fair when there’s no sign of a hot bath or decent wine for three weeks?

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GPS Trace of Wales Training Weekend

Here it is in all it’s glory – I never get tired of these things! 500 miles in one weekend – can’t be bad.

Wales Training Run GPS Trace

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Back safe and sound

The bike is away, the flickr photos are being uploaded and I have a full Sunday roast in my Belly…. fantastic weekend, much learned, full report shortly.

Sorry about the strange characters in the posts whilst we were away – the photo update stuff seems to put them in – will get that fixed ASAP.

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