My last blog was about the teaching we did in Cairo -- we also did a lot of imparting. Though related, they're not exactly the same thing. Impart means to give, bestow, communicate or convey. So teaching is one way of imparting, but not the only way, and maybe not the most important. We "imparted" a lot by example and by simply the Lord bringing something of His Spirit through us. Any time we're involved in worship, the Lord comes through His Spirit and imparts something of Himself through us. Much of the time we're not all that aware of exactly what He's doing. But it was clear that we brought a refreshing and some level of healing and freedom to the church.
Healing in that a lot of people were touched deeply in their grief and refreshed in the long hard grind of living in a challenging situation away from home in a foreign country. And it was obvious that they needed to let loose and worship their hearts out -- which they did!
It was very important for me to model that one can play a "special" or unusual instrument in worship. We often limit worship to contemporary pop/rock instruments, but the Bible commands that all instruments worship the Lord. (Psalm 150) So something is missing. There are plenty of skilled musicians in the church with callings and the heart for worship who we exclude because they don't play guitar, bass, drums or keyboards. (OK, if you're a chick you can sing BGVs) Simply playing different kinds of instruments imparts the freedom for others to do the same, whatever their instrument might be. I certainly don't want to leave a wake of people trying to play the oboe, but I do hope some in Egypt will bring whatever instruments they do play to the Lord in worship.
I didn't just play the oboe, either. I play all those high and low Irish whistles, which are just variations on the basic 6-whole flute found all over the world. Egypt and the Middle East have their own versions, and I hope some will worship the Lord with them as well.
Duduk -- then there is the Duduk! Recently I've taken up the Duduk -- an ancient Armenian double reed you've heard in many film scores lately, including Gladiator. There are similar instruments throughout the Middle East and Asia, all along the "Silk Road" from the Balkans to Korean and Japan. The sound is deeply haunting and beautiful and somehow Middle Eastern. So it was important for me to play this Middle Eastern instrument in Egypt to help create a sort of sonic middle ground between this Western pop/rock worship music and the culture we were playing it in, and to give permission to play all sorts of ethnic instruments of all kinds in worship.
Nowhere did we feel this more strongly than at the outdoor worship concert. We played in a softball field, just across from a radical mosque. It couldn't have been more than 150 to 200 meters away. It was Ramadan, and as soon as we started our concert, the Imam began chanting the Q'uran over his PA system. Some say this was possibly normal for Ramadan, others that it was very unusual and he was competing with us as the last call to prayer of the day had passed.
In any case, Jesus' words about the Father wanting worship in spirit and truth loomed large.
And while I find Islam to be hard, heavy and cold, there was something haunting about his singing -- and something similar to the Duduk. His voice and my Duduk sound similar. You would expect that since they are both part of the same general musical culture. And while we had some 2,000 - 2,500 people at the concert, there were many watching and listening from their apartments across the street. So I played my Duduk a lot -- more than usual and on several songs I don't normally play it on. And I listened to the Imam and emulated what he was singing. I wanted to "impart" to the puzzled and captivated Muslim listeners across the way that Christianity is not a Western import, but Middle Eastern. The difference in the spirit between the two was obvious and extreme. As I said, I find Islam hard, heavy and cold. The presence of the Lord came as kindness, warmth, lightness and love -- and even fun. I don't think I've ever quite seen how NICE God is. He's just plain NICE! And He likes us! He likes to be with us and to bless us. He's not mad at us and He doesn't lay heavy burdens of obedience on us.
Matthew 11:28-30. "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."
Christ as already kept the Law for us and paid the price for our sins. The veil is torn and a new and living way to the Father is open. I think the difference in the spirit was clear to everyone -- even the Muslims listening from outside. And I hope the Duduk made a small difference in making it easier to enter in.