Praise the Lord!
Praise God in his sanctuary;
praise him in his mighty heaven!
Praise him for his mighty works;
praise his unequaled greatness!
Praise him with a blast of the ram’s horn;
praise him with the lyre and harp!
Praise him with the tambourine and dancing;
praise him with strings and flutes!
Praise him with a clash of cymbals;
praise him with loud clanging cymbals.
Let everything that breathes sing praises to the Lord!
Praise the Lord! – Psalm 150
Eleven pipers, piping. Quite the image, huh? Now I like a good bagpipe as much as any Presbyterian (we have one of the best I’ve ever heard in our own church here in Wake Forest) – but eleven of them may well be pushing the limit. So I think I’ll re-imagine my pipers as trumpets, trombones, clarinets, oboes, bassoons, and such.
To be honest, though, thinking about heading in to church this morning, it doesn’t matter what kind of pipes they are, so long as they are blowing songs of praise. Fact is, those eleven pipers piping make me think about a great jam session , and absolutely any instrument is welcome.
PRAISE! Back in Brandon, when I played with the praise orchestra, I organized a “prelude jam” every two or three weeks as an alternative to the traditional – tamer – gathering music. We had a lot of fun, but it could be a challenge to persuade some of the instrumentalists to leave their sheet music and let the Spirit guide them.
Eventually, even the flute and the violin got involved, and we would produce a riotous assemblage of sound that was short on “smooth production” but very, very deep when it came to heartfelt praise.
My favorite – and we did this our last Sunday in FLorida – was a simple – but jamtastic – version of “Just a Closer Walk with Thee.” I’d begin with a slow, soulful, lead line for one verse, go on to add a few simple chords behind it, and then nod to our lead guitarist to join in. We’d run through a couple more verses, the drums would pick up the beat, and soon we’d add bass guitar, trombone, piano, a couple of violins, then whoever and whatever else was beginning to feel the inspiration.
PIPES! By that time there would be a lot going on, handing off the lead line from piano to guitar and even the trombone. But we didn’t really, really, get going until David Royle lit up his trumpet and weighed in like Jesus himself was coming in through the front door of the church and flat out dancing down the main aisle. Now that – my friends – is some piper piping; and you could have three, five, seven, or even eleven pipers blowing their lungs out and it wouldn’t begin to approach the theological astuteness and the sheer joy that blew through the sanctuary when David got a hold of his pipes!
What I’m saying, this eleventh day of Christmas, is don’t miss today’s opportunity to show up at church – whatever church you are connected with – and jam your heart out for Jesus. Sing like there is no tomorrow; drumbeat on the back of the pew in front of you if you have to; wave your hands and sway a little to the music. Light up your pipes – whatever pipes you have – and praise God with a grateful heart for the amazing gift that Christmas represents.
Still grateful, and excited about 2015 – DEREK