An important new multi-media project The Mishkan is the latest work of Lancashire's BREAKSPEAR. Tony Cummings went to see and hear.
Each Sunday, the plain, brick built main hall of Heywood Baptist Church sports rows of plastic seats, mic stands and overhead projector. During the week the hall becomes a basketball court. But this Saturday night the hall has undergone a more startling transformation. Swathes of curtains, strobing lights, a ceremonial cleaning fountain complete with running water and an eerily lit Tent Of Meeting transfix the tightly packed audience gathered there. Suddenly the plaintive sound of a hammered dulcimer and the haunting voice of a female reciting the Lord's prayer bursts from a dozen speakers. There's an audible gasp as through the door, reverentally carried on the shoulders of four prayer intercessors, comes the golden Ark of the Covenant.
This is the debut performance of The Mishkan', a stunning multi-media presentation by a talented team assembled by Lancashire's "karaoke prophet" Nick Jones, better known as Breakspear. What The Mishkan' does, in a dazzling mix of music, monologue and visual image, is highlight the fact that the roots of the Christian faith are Jewish and that a pivotal part of God's plan for mankind centres around the Jews. Nick is a gentile who through prophetic revelation, in part received in the Holy Land, has developed a burning zeal to communicate how much Jesus loves the Jews and how the Church must be done with the prejudice of old and demonstrate their love of God's chosen people. A couple of days after the performance I spoke to Nick about the album, which will be released in December, and the touring production, which will go out on the road in 2002. "The Lord has brought such hugely talented people around me. Record producer Matt Wanstall, who's an absolute genius in the studio, singer Lynsey Berry, our very own diva Elaine Hanley and singer/songwriter Dave Woodman, who wrote the first song. Without them I couldn't do what God has called me to do. Now that we've got the album recorded, the next step is taking it out on the road. The staging is going to cost on average 1,000 pounds per presentation to pay for the personnel, the equipment, etc. We are being graciously sponsored PA-wise from Wigwam Acoustics. We're now looking for people who capture the vision and want to stage a performance of The Mishkan'. So if there is anybody out there who wants to help us wave this banner in the gentile nations then get in touch."
I asked this spiky-haired iconoclastic entertainer to unpack a little of The Mishkan' vision. "Mishkan is the Hebrew word for tabernacle which means the tent of meeting where God met with mankind and in main the nation of Israel in a five by five metre square tent upon the earth and there he recommunicated with his people. We've got to remember the whole thing about the tabernacle was about going back to Eden. If we remember in Eden mankind lived with their Lover. Some people have called the Garden of Eden a tabernacle without a roof. Tabernacle means to dwell with God. We've used the motif of the tabernacle, all the parts of the furniture, the colours, to present pictures to people to increase our understanding of words like "entering through the veil". In the past some of that had gone right over my head when I read it. But when I saw the pictures of it, an actual physical representation, my understanding started to kick into my spirit. So that's what we're trying to do, to take people right back to understand why our roots are in Eden and then bring it right up to today, especially with world events that are taking place, and the significance of Jerusalem and in particular the job that the Lord has given as a task, as lovers of his ancient people, Israel."
I asked Nick about some of the stunning compositions featured in The Mishkan'. "With 'Out Of Eden' we were wanting to pose the question 'what is life about?' You get a million answers to that question. I've gone right back to the biblical account of where it says life began and how it all fell apart and how we got put out of that perfect place but that God has a redemption plan for our lives. The opening line of 'Purple' says that the blue of Heaven came down to the red of the earth and as they dissolved into each other the colour purple was birthed. It's all speaking about Yeshua Jesus, the Son of God coming from Heaven to the earth, taking on the tabernacle of a man and dwelling with us, and it speaks about how the land of Israel in the ancient world was actually known as The Land Of Purple. It goes on to share with us the imagery taken from Isaiah 53 about the suffering servant and how he was brutally taken from us."
One of the things that struck me about The Mishkan' was its ability to
enthral a hugely diverse audience. Christians young and old were
clearly moved by its clarion call to reflect the heart of Jesus and
reach out in love to the Jewish community; Jews paid rapt attention at
the Christocentric significance of the signs and symbols of Old
Testament history; and children loved Nick's zany asides and the
show-stopping appearance of a camel who, having "passed through the
eye of a needle" joins in the surreal fun of the song "Bazar". The
last song on The Mishkan' is "Soon", celebrating Jesus' return.
Enthuses Nick, "When we get to the last track he reminds us that he is
coming soon. And he is coming soon to do very specific things. He is
coming specifically to Jerusalem to fulfil the ancient Scriptures and
he is going to be welcomed, remembered back into the Hebrew house.
They are going to look upon him whom they pierced,' it says, and that
is both Jew and gentile because we have pierced the heart of Yeshua
because we have denied him his Jewishness and likewise the Jewish
people have denied him his Jewishness and thought he was the God of