Why the bagpipes, and what do they have to do with the Kingdom of God?
To begin with, they are part of my heritage. My family moved from Scotland to the New World some 400 years ago. In the old country, my family was a sept (division) of Clan MacLean and we were also the ancestral pipers for that group. In addition, some of our family ran a school for piping in Scotland.
Being the piper was an important job for the larger families back in the day. In researching the role that John McGregor played as piper during the siege of the Alamo mission in 1836 during the Texas War of Independence, the late Barbara Zoe Alexander wrote the following:
A pity Texas’ historians have never recognized the significance of McGregor’s role on that day; that what appears to them as quaint whimsy on his part, was really dead serious duty, and he saw that duty through — “to the deid.” What a different story it would have made, if they had realized that the custom of playing the pipes in battle is forever meshed with Scottish tradition, for the piper was to Celtic warfare what the drummer and bugler were in later wars — and more. He was the heartbeat of the Clan, the keeper of their collective spirit, and recorder of their deeds, victories and tragedies. The tunes he played had special meaning to his people, and could rally the men and stir their emotions like nothing else. Further, he went into battle expecting to die — and knowing his value to the battle tactics and spirits of his Clansmen, the enemy were generally eager to oblige. Even the soldiers of Mexico, who’d never heard the squall of the bagpipe, instinctively knew this man, McGregor, could not be allowed to live. (Remember the (piper at the) Alamo! from “The Pipes of War” production blog)
Now, I play for a larger and greater clan -- for the Kingdom of God and the fellowship of believers. I yield my instrument to the Lord and offer it back to Him, because I believe the highest expression of the power of the bagpipes is in service to Him in worship, whether in the classic hymns of the Church or the newer worship choruses. Those of you who have heard Amazing Grace only as a mournful dirge at funerals need to hear it in pipes and full voice of a congregation giving praise to the Lord as it has been the privilege of myself and others to experience. Like in their original service for the Clans of Scotland, the songs a piper plays can be used by the Holy Spirit to lift spirits and bring the presence of the Lord into the life of the listener, as a reminder of past deliverances or victories wrought through faith; in short, serving in spiritual warfare. And doing that duty “to the deid” is easier when you have already died to yourself and Christ now lives inside you.
I am a member of the International Fellowship of Christian Pipers and Drummers. I am happy to play for church services, calls to worship, conferences, traditional Biblical weddings, funerals or any occasion the Lord provides where I can tell the story of my new Clan and its Great King. My desire is to let perhaps the noisiest of the joyful noises sound for His Glory until what was once officially classified as an "instrument of war" becomes known as an instrument of the Lord's peace.