Fr. Matthew Cashmore

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

Category: Uncategorized

A Thought for The Week

This morning I delivered my very first ‘Thought for The Day’ – it was a little scary… It’s a short reflection on death, autumn, the continual gifts of death and the presence of God.

Full text.

Good morning,

At 4pm this afternoon I will be preaching at a memorial service at Holy Trinity in Hereford. This service takes place twice a year and we invite those who have lost people in the previous six months to come, sit, be quiet, to sing, to pray, to light a candle and to give thanks for the lives of those loved ones who have died.

At this time of year it’s especially moving, we’ve just celebrated Halloween, then the day after – All Souls Day and then All Saints Day. You’ll hear stern warnings from some Christians of the danger of what Halloween has become – and there’s strong truth in that – but what follows – All Souls Day – is at the heart of a week of remembering the dead – at the heart of a changing season around us.

Now autumn is my favourite time of year. Leaves fall, fields are bare, we are past the rush of September. There’s a peace in this week of All Souls that allows us to take a breath, to see the beauty of what is around is, what is now dead or dying and to take in the great gifts we have had from that bounty. The food from the fields, the beautiful vistas of the countryside, the fruit from the trees… the cider in our cups.

But, Autumn – death – continues to give us gifts. As the evenings draw in, the clocks go back we start to shiver at the colder weather we start to see frost on the windows, it feels a good time to remember those who have died. We can recall our loved ones with a smile, we can remember that phrase they used, the way they made tea or the way they told us off. We can smile, but that memory is tinged with the sadness of loss, those memories are sometimes bad or hurt, there are tears – there is pain. Leaves fall.

But just as we see the beauty in those fallen leaves we should embrace the pain of our loss and in doing that we accept that whilst our loved ones are gone, we understand that they are not gone forever. That they are loved by God and that just as Autumn goes through the pain of winter – spring always comes.

God looks for us in the firmament of heaven, knowing the pain we are in and offering us a warm hand – here on earth right now we feel that as just the tiniest hint of a warm breeze on a cold autumn day – compared to the full-blown howling love that awaits us in death.

So as we leave Halloween, all souls day and all saints day behind, appreciate the warm breeze, appreciate the good and bad memories of those who have died – and know that whenever you need it, in pain and in happiness – God’s warm hand is always there to be held – all you need to do is reach for it.

 

 

Share

Top Colorado Destinations

If you’re looking for an amazing getaway vacation at an affordable price, look no further than Colorado. While this outdoor haven might seem pretty remote and off the map, it’s actually one of the most up and coming destinations of travel in the U.S. With unlimited access to outdoors and amazing accommodations, it’s easy to get lost in the wild beauty of the area. Spend your days outside in the mountains and your nights relaxing in one of the many luxury homes in Colorado. However you choose to spend your vacation, just know the options are endless in this remote corner of the world. Read on for some of our favorite places to visit in this amazing part of the country.

Denver

For great nightlife, food, and culture, be sure to stop by Denver during your Colorado travels. The state capital has tons to do and see, and is conveniently located near the airport. Because of its location it’s a great central hub to explore other destinations and surrounding landscapes. Stop by one of their many art or history museums, or explore the famed home of Victorian era socialite and Titanic survivor Molly Brown. Explore local rural areas for amazing days hikes, check out the local rock climbing scene, and be sure to check out the awesome brewery scene before you leave.

Boulder

The climbing-haven of the world, this small Colorado city packs a punch for culture, outdoors, and pretty much everything else. Home to many world-famous climbers, the city lies in the shadow of amazing mountain peaks, like The FlatIrons. Everyone seems to have a dog and spend their days outdoors here, whether it’s hiking, climbing, biking, or fishing. The sun shines most of the year, even when it snows, making it an amazing destination for outdoor adventure. The downtown also offers a myriad of activities catered towards more urban-minded visitors, like unparalleled boutique-style restaurants and cafes, unique shops and outfitters, and a plethora of marijuana dispensaries of which the area is known for.

The Rocky Mountains

The Rockies are a U.S.- must see, and span a good portion of the state. With small mountain towns that have been around for a century or more, there are plenty of smaller destinations to see and visit in this mountain range. One great stop is Breckenridge, a little mountain town at the base of the Rockies offering historic Gold Rush buildings, awesome hiking trails, and a handful of Zagat-reviewed restaurants in cozy historic homes. Head out to mountain bike or hike its many trails or explore the history of one of these century-old mining towns. Many have preserved museums and homes from the era, making it a must-do for any visiting history buff.

Great Sand Dunes

Great Sand Dunes National Park has some of the best scenery the state of Colorado has to offer. From sweeping mountains to curved arid landscapes, this national park is a must-see if you find yourself nearby. Opt for one of its may hikes during the temperate seasons or simply drive in for the day with your camera. Pack a picnic to take in the scenery as you dine, and be sure to explore the other impressive landscapes nearby.

Tellurides

This quaint little town makes our list for its incredible preserved history and charming authentic appeal. If you’re looking to step back in time to the mining days of old, look no further than a trip to Tellurides. Explore its famous history museums and wander on hiking trails through this mountainous mining town.

Aspen

If you like to ski, then checking out Aspen is a must. This world-renowned ski resort is a lesson in luxury all on its own. Choose from gorgeous accommodations, adorable and luxurious boutique style shops and world-class restaurants and dining. Aspen is a resort town made for luxe, but it’s possible to enjoy its benefits fully even in just one day. Make another spot your entryway into this amazing town then spend a day skiing or sightseeing in Aspen to get the full experience.

Vail

If Aspen seems a bit too fancy for your interests (or budget), check out Vail. Vail offers a similar skiing and shopping experience without all the luxe tied to the name. Visitors can full benefit from a trip to this alpine resort and enjoy the full range of things to do in a less crowded and some would say more authentic way than Aspen. Take a ski lesson or spend the day exploring the town. If you like the charm of a snowy mountain town, be sure to add this spot to your list.

Wherever you choose to spend your trip in the great state of Colorado, the best part is by far the range of activities and sights you can see for practically nothing. Spend the time and money finding a great place to stay and rest assured that you can fill your day with amazing day trips at little to no cost. Many outdoor activities in this region of the world can be enjoyed for free, and the ultra-accessible sightseeing in this part of the country makes it easy to get around and have an amazing vacation, without burning a hole in your wallet. So pick a place to stay, or two or three, pack some sturdy hiking or snow boots and splurge on that bottle of wine for the room. After a day of adventuring or shopping, you deserve it.

Share

Setting up Skype with a desktop phone

img_2497What did I want? I wanted a Skype virtual number that worked with the Skype client on my iPhone, my laptop and importantly – with a desktop phone that would function without the need to be plugged into my computer.

Easy. Google Skype desktop phone and you’re presented with an array of options. But here’s the rub. They don’t work. Skype – the consumer version – is just not wired to work properly with a stand alone desktop phone (VoIP) – so you’re going to have to try something else. I now have a virtual Skype number that calls through on my various devices as well as a desktop phone – this is how I managed it – it took me the better part of two weeks of on-and-off work to get this up and running – there is so much contrary information on various websites that I hope this offers a clear path for new users.

1 – Skype wont work for you.

The personal version of Skype is not up to this task. Yes, you can buy a USB phone for your computer but it’s barely better than a bluetooth headset and it still requires your computer to be up and running and signed in. You need Skype For Business. It’s designed to work with more robust VoIP systems and will integrate with a number of desktop phones – most easily with this range from Polycom. Be aware you need a very specific version of the Polycom phones that come with the relevant firmware pre-installed. This is important. Without that firmware the upgrade process for these devices is a pain – a REAL pain. I know.

2 – It wont work with JUST Skype for Business

Skype for Business is an awesome stand-alone tool. It’ll ring your devices, is far more robust than the personal version and offers good value for money. You could stop right here with a simple subscription and forget the desktop phone idea.

3 – I really want a desktop phone

This is where things get hugely confusing. In order to use a desktop phone you are going to need a full-on VoIP server, a PBX server and a phone plan of some kind. What does that mean in practice? It means you need a Microsoft Office Enterprise Licence. The easiest way to get up and running is to sign up for an Office 365 E5 Licence. This gives you everything you need to be up and running with a desktop phone – including the Cloud PBX service for Skype For Business. You’ll just need to add a domestic calling plan. So now you have:

  • Office Enterprise Licence
  • Cloud PBX (included in E5, needs to be added for other enterprise licences)
  • Calling plan

You are set to go – you need ALL of these things. Skype For Business will not work on a desktop phone without this set up.

4 – What’s the cost?

An office E5 licence sets you back £25 per month. But for that you get the entire Office suite of apps and a bunch of other things that made it worth while for me.

Cloud PBX is £5 per month (but is included in the E5 licence)

Domestic call plan is about £7 per month – but can vary depending on your Office Licence.

You can chop and change these licences depending on your needs as long as you have the three items listed above in some form or another.

5 – Setting up the phone

Buy a Polycom phone. It arrives with the firmware installed and you just log in via the web interface, insert your Skype For Business credentials and it just works – honestly, this was the easiest part of the whole thing. There’s a bunch of help online if you get stuck – but it really is straight forward. My phone calls just like a real phone, it receives calls easily and as Skype For Business becomes more integrated into the Office suite of tools it becomes ever more useful as a desktop device – contacts, calendar, diverting and transferring to other members of my team etc.

6 – Do you really need a desktop phone?

If you really need a desktop phone this painful path is worth it – because you’re essentially setting up a small commercial set up with Microsoft. It works really well once set up but a lot of it is for IT pros and not for the likes of you and me. If you don’t really need a phone, you may well find the cost and set up just too much – stick with your iPhone and a bluetooth hand-held for your desk.

7 – It works REALLY well

Now I’m set up I have incredibly robust email, access to Microsofts Office Enterprise tools and software and integration across all of those tools. I can easily manage my own email server and my own phone server. This is such a good tool.

 

Share

Sermon on the Cleansing Of The Temple

I really enjoyed writing this one – it’s going to form the basis of the sermon I am going to submit for my course – but as the visiting lecturer told us in our preaching weekend the best time to fix a sermon is after you have given it… so here you are, here’s my Cleansing Of The Temple sermon at its midpoint- it’s first presentation and before it has been re-written and re-presented. So please, take a moment and give me your feedback.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Click to listen on mobile or right click to download the MP3

We’ve heard from the gospel this morning the story of the cleansing of the temple. We know this event is important because it’s one of the few that are in all four gospels. It’s quite a sedate title really – ‘the cleansing of the temple’ – as if Jesus came in with his disciples and spotted that someone had missed their turn on the cleaning rota and got the Henry out to lend a hand.

In fact when you’re reading the majority of John you’re presented with such a divine vision of Jesus – more God, more Divine than human it’s incredibly jarring to see an angry Jesus.

If this were Luke I wouldn’t bat an eyelid. But this is John – Jesus is always calm, collected, and thoughtful – everything he does reflects previous prophecy or is incredibly well thought through with an eye to his immediate future.  But here – just two chapters in we get this angry Jesus – and not just angry actually – but thoughtfully angry – a sustained anger.

He walked into the temple – this was Passover so it would have been HEAVING, he saw people selling animals for sacrifice, saw people changing money so they could buy the temple coins to gain entry, saw the priests making big profits from this market place, saw the Temple selling for money those things that can not be bought with money.

He saw people BUYING their way into Grace (or so they thought), into Heaven, and worse… the Temple was enabling it – actually not just enabling it but becoming rich by it. The Temple authorities were not worried about worship or becoming closer to God they were worried about money in the here and now, they were worried about the rules and the letter of the Law. They had lost sight of what they were there for. They were buying and selling an imitation of God’s Grace.

So Jesus doesn’t just fly into a rage – he sits and makes a whip of cords – can you imagine the scene? Can you see how angry Jesus must have been to see all of this and then to sit and to take the time to make a whip of cords before letting lose that anger? Can you see Jesus pacing meaningfully around the Temple flailing his whip and driving out the people and the animals? He treated both in the same way – as far as he was concerned there was no difference between the moneychanger and the sheep destined for sacrifice.

And then we get to the nub of why John has this incident at the stark of Jesus ministry rather than at the end as the other gospels do… “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up”. This is textbook John, a wonderful picture and story that helps us start to understand the change that is occurring here.

This is the end of the old world of sacrifice and of only being a good Jew if you worship at THE Temple, what John is showing us here is that Jesus is destroying the old Temple, the old way of doing things and he is showing us that HE will become the Temple. When Jesus is resurrected three days after he is crucified his body becomes the sacrifice, later Jesus body is bread and Jesus body, not the lamb, is sacrifice. This allows John to point to these words from Jesus afterwards and demonstrate that He knew exactly what was coming – but of course the disciples don’t understand that until after the resurrection.

But so what? I’ve just given you a textbook explanation of what John is doing here story wise, why it was important and I hope I’ve given you a picture in your mind of an angry Jesus because for me, one of the biggest things we sometimes forget about Jesus is that he got angry.

It’s easy for us to picture Christians as people who should take Jesus example and always be nice, head tilted 45 degrees to the right and listening as you demonstrate how understanding and Jesus-like you are – but actually you’re raging inside. This story shows that Jesus wasn’t always nice – it shows that when things were wrong he got angry and that actually, if we want to be more like Jesus then we should get angry when things are wrong.

For me right now this lesson is one of authenticity. This is why I love the Bible. Two years ago I could have read this lesson and taken from it a story of prophesy, or I could have taken another more practical lesson but this week I’ve taken authenticity as a church as what the Holy Spirit is trying to show me.

The Bible isn’t something you read through once, these stories are not just something that you read through once and tick off and say ‘okay, I’ve read the Bible’ they are something that we should live with daily. Previous generations understood this better than us – perhaps it was the lack of TV but they read the Bible together every day… Now, once something is done it’s time to move onto the next thing – but the Bible gives us a framework within which the Holy Spirit can work in us to help us discern those things that we would otherwise not see – or worse would actively avoid – and for that to work, for us to have a door open to the Holy Spirit we need to sit with the Bible as much as we can – reading the same stories, the same examples, the same lessons over and over again and each time getting what we need right then, or rather what God needs us to get right then.

So right now, this week, I’ve been reflecting on why it is that I keep coming to this passage every time I walk into a Cathedral and I’m charged for entry, or every time I see the exit through the gift shop sign on the way out of a Cathedral. I see Jesus walking in and turning over the coffee shop tables, pulling the books and olive wood statues from the shelves and smashing the glass donation boxes asking why it is we have turned the Fathers house into a market place. It’s an easy picture to paint isn’t it – especially when our nose is out of joint at having to part with £15 to walk through the door so we can pray.

The conclusion I’ve come to is that this story is not about those petty things, those things that wind us up because we feel that these buildings our OURS and we should be able to wander in and out as and when we want with no barrier to entry – actually the reason I feel uncomfortable about these things is because it puts into start contrast for me the difference between the building and worship. The Cathedral, our church buildings in general, are just places we come to worship when we are called. We expect God to turn up here and to hear our prayers, but what this story shows us is that God doesn’t inhabit a building – no matter how grand – God inhabits us and our worship can happen anywhere. The point of our church buildings is that they can offer two things:

1 – A place to come and worship as a community
2 – A hook upon which we can engage others in the mission of the church

And that’s where I come back to authenticity. Our church buildings have practical things that need to be paid for. Beyond that we have things that we need to buy to make our worship more comfortable – there’s nothing wrong with that – there is nothing wrong with spending money on a new roof, or a new tower in a Cathedral so a lift can be put in – because that is being done to authentically enable our churches to be either a place of community worship – a beacon in our communities – or to enable broader mission work.

Our Cathedrals and churches have become places of hope and support for a vast number of people who rely on the services – both spiritual and practical – that they offer – our churches have become places where food banks operate and credit unions are formed – we are starting to relish in the church being a force for good in the world – we are starting to relish the fact that that means DOING things not just raising money to do things. We are starting to realise that selling things in our foyer is not an invitation for Jesus to be angry with us but an opportunity to fund a homeless shelter, a food bank, a credit advisor, a way to keep the building open, warm and well lit so that it can be a sanctuary, a place of divine peace and worship.

We are being authentic in our call to build the Kingdom here on earth.

So next time we cringe at paying for something in church or when we see a new coffee shop in the cloisters of a Cathedral – just ask yourself if it’s being authentic – and if it’s not, then be like Jesus and get angry!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Share

Sermon on The Baptism of Christ

I’ve really struggled with this sermon. It was given to celebrate The Baptism of Christ this morning – but amid horrific events in Paris. I sat with the text most of the week, read widely and googled even more widely – but nothing. In the end this was what came, line by hard line. I had good feedback from the congregations this morning – other than people saying it was short at only six minutes!

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Right click to download a copy of the sermon on The Baptism of Christ.

In the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, Amen.

Please sit.

It’s very hard to stand here today and talk about a celebration – a festival – after this weeks horrendous events in Paris. But today is the festival of the Baptism of Christ. We celebrate the Baptism of our Saviour – the moment that he decided, he made a choice that the time had come for him to face his ministry. He had decided that the time had come to follow his vocation. For thirty years he had lived in Nazareth, now was the time to step forward. Jesus made a choice and took up his inheritance.

In Mark’s gospel there is no nativity story. No story of where Jesus came from or where he was born other than to say he had come from Nazareth of Galilee. We barely get 4 verses into the gospel before Mark is telling us about his baptism – I think that’s very striking – the start of Mark’s gospel is about a man making a choice, not a man being born into a destiny already before him.

We are faced with choices all the time. Not all of our choices result in the heavens being torn apart and God speaking to us telling us he is well pleased with us. But those choices are no less important.

In our modern Baptism service the priest asks those who are being baptised, or via their parents and God Parents – Do you reject the devil and all rebellion against God? Do you renounce the deceit and corruption of evil? Those questions are not just for that moment, are not meant to be discarded and forgotten about as soon you as leave church and head for the party. Those questions should sit with you every time you make a choice. Every time you make a decision you should ask yourself if you are turning your back on evil and facing Christ – because in that choice you mirror the decision that Jesus took that day – or in the lead up to that day – to face his ministry, his vocation – perhaps knowing exactly what lay in front of him.

So what can we take from Jesus decision, the example of the choice that he made? We know that because of our Baptisms we have made a promise – a choice, that we confirmed during our confirmations – to turn to God and turn our back on evil – and we have to do that in every single choice – every single decision we ever make – even when we may know that that decision will lead to a personal loss or challenge.

After Jesus was Baptised he was immediately driven (you have to love the language and style of the Gospel of Mark, if you wanted to make a gritty Norwegian version of the story of Jesus you’d surely start with the Gospel of Mark) ‘and the spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness for forty days, tempted by Satan; and he was with the wild beasts; and the angels waited on him.

We are in the wilderness with the wild beasts – every day of our lives. We’ve seen this week what happens when people make the wrong choices, when they let evil into their hearts.

For us, here and now on a smaller scale, one small bad decision leads to another, and then another and then another – before you know it you’re in a cycle that is almost impossible to break out of. ‘Oh, I’ve done this before and it was okay’.

This is one of the reasons we confess our sins each Sunday – doing what people were doing on the banks of the Jordan all those years ago. They were being baptised in the name of God, they were being washed clean of their sins and to be washed clean of their sins they had to face them and repent. Our confession on a Sunday shouldn’t be something we mumble through and read without thinking. Our time for confession is to allow us to seek out those choices we’ve made that week that were perhaps bad ones – and we all make bad decisions all the time – decisions that may have been good for us – but bad for others. A chance to break the cycle of bad choices and turn afresh to Christ.

I think that when we confess our sins, when we face our choices, when we turn our backs on evil and face Christ we perhaps try to be like Jesus that day. We make that declaration to ourselves and when we truly do that, when we truly ask God to wash us clean of our sins we invite the Spirit to descend on us – like a dove from the sky – a sign of peace and love, not war and hate – and in that moment God speaks to us and in our hearts says he loves us, and that he is well pleased with us.

So what do we do with that love and peace that we have been granted by God? Do we just bask in that glory? No, we take the words of the dismissal at the end of the service to heart… go in peace to love and serve the Lord… a good friend of mine in Wales used to say at the end of his services…. “go in peace to love and serve the Lord – the service has ended and now the worship begins”.

Amen.

Share

Leaving Blackwell’s & next steps

Leaving Blackwell's Bookseller Article GrabWell what a week. We announced  that I was leaving Blackwell’s to train as a Priest. Those of you who follow this blog will not be surprised, especially if you followed my posts on this recently.

It’s been an amazing journey – I’ve only been at Blackwell’s for two years but in that time we’ve managed to get a huge amount done. Turning up at a company with a blank sheet is an awesome opportunity and I can’t recall the last time I’ve had so much fun professionally.

It was a tough decision to leave, but when God calls you answer and… here I am.

I will be taking up some small consultancy work in the new year to supplement my tiny new income and if you’re interested in working with me you can email me or contact me on Skype on matthewcashmore. I have a very special day-rate for charities and faith organisations.

I’ll be taking some time over Christmas to give this blog a bit of a facelift and re-introduce the God Blog to the central theme and perhaps also taking the opportunity to write about bookselling the publishing world as well.

Share

Betting on the MotoGP

This season’s MotoGP – or Road Racing World Championship Grand Prix – has been up and running for around two months now, and will continue until November. As this is the top level of competitive motorcycle racing it draws more audience and betting interest than any other form of the sport – with many of those who watch the MotoGP also being the ones placing bets on it. Most of the top bookmakers are offering betting and odds information on the winner of this title, so which riders are currently considered a good bet for the 2013 MotoGP?

Perhaps surprisingly, the rider who currently holds the title – Jorge Lorenzo is only the second favourite in the bookies odds at the moment – although it would be fair to say that there is little between him and first placed Dani Pedrosa. Indeed you can get the same odds of 5/4 on both riders at a number of sports betting sites, suggesting that most of the bookies expect it to be a pretty close run thing. The third placed odds of 9/2 on Marc Marquez may also attract a fair amount of betting interest, because this offers the chance of a better return, without having to risk betting on a rank outsider. Alternatively, you may simply opt to watch the races for fun and bet on a motor racing game at an online casino like http://www.jackpotcity.co.uk/online-slots/ instead.

If you do, then you could make far worse choices than Good to Go; a five reel video slots game with nine pay lines and brilliant maximum jackpots of up to $50,000. This game has been enthusiastically embraced by both motor racing and casino fans, as the former are attracted by the motor sport theme that runs throughout – including reel icons of flags, drivers, pit girls and rev counters and sound effects of tyres and engines; while the latter enjoy the jackpots, the cheap game play and the fact that the wild symbol (the pit girl one) boosts the odds of you winning a payout by filling in for missing reel icons to complete a winning reel.

Share

Lots of news

It’s been very quiet here of late – that’s because there’s lots of news – lots of things going on that I can’t wait to tell you about… but for the moment need to remain on the QT.

The biggest news of course is that Catherine and I are expecting our first baby – Edmund, for that is his name – will be joining the world on or around December 31st later this year. That means that Kazakhstan is off the cards and that I’m going to start posting a lot of irritating stuff about Children, the role of fathers and doing video reviews of baby monitors rather than tents.

First off though… justdaddies.com is now live – it’s my new blog – dedicated to re-posting the most inspirational stories of fathers from around the world. Enjoy.

Share

Budapest – The City

Budapest CityToby 2 ready for the offFully loaded and ready to goWaiting to boardNot long to goBikes last
Bikes lastWaiting to boardA whole carrage to myself!I'll be in France in no timeNot the brighest start to the dayOverloaded bike
A typical organised camp CashmoreDecathlon - home of cheap camping gearAustria - I had about an hour of dry roads - then rain all day.Replacement sleeping mat and sleeping bag + coversBudapest CityBudapest City
Budapest CityBudapest CityBudapest CityBudapest CityBudapest CityBudapest City

Budapest, a set on Flickr.

It’s been a blast getting this far – I’m holed up in a hotel for the day whilst a tummy irritation sorts itself out so I’ve taken the opportunity to get all the photos of the journey so far together – here they all are!

Share