"On the eleventh day of Christmas my true love gave to me eleven pipers piping,"
The root meanings for the word "pipe" in Hebrew produce otherwise negative associations: to profane, wound, pierce, defile, pollute, and dishonor. What does playing the pipe or flute have to do with these notions? For one, quite literally, pipes have holes bored through them in order to produce the sounds. Also, have you heard the expression of musical notes "piercing" the air? And wasn't it the Pied Piper who enticed children to their doom?
In Greek, the root meanings are associated with air, blowing, or breathing. That makes sense. Sometimes we hear someone tell us to "pipe up" or "pipe down." Sometimes we just need to verbally vent to "blow off" a bit of steam.
But in the context of Christmas, the eleven pipers are piping away and their display is meant to be a gift from our true love. Making music, after all, is the universal language for expressing emotions.
If the pipers' melodies could carry lyrics laced with emotions, what would they say? In Psalm 87:7 we read: "Then those who sing as well as those who play the flutes shall say, 'All my springs of joy are in you'." What a great reminder for this holiday season. What does it mean that all (not one, two, or three but all) our springs of joy are in the Lord? God is Joy and God sent Joy, and somehow we can have this Joy as well. We could even stretch a bit to say that the springs represent the pipes; in other words, from the source of Joy is piped joy.
And what about if we are not exactly piping out the joy these days? Well, this could mean:
1) You don't have Joy as the source (in other words, you may not be a Christian)
2) You have Joy as your source, but you find yourself sucking for air instead of piping it out or what you're piping out is a far cry from life-giving (possibly due to fatigue, stress, illness, disillusionment, depression, or an untold number of trials and tribulations)
If you find yourself in the #1 category, ask God to open your eyes to His truth. Search for Him. If you are in the #2 category, reacquaint yourself with what it means to rely fully on God instead of yourself. Shouldn't joy produce joy? There is a sweet mystery here waiting to be discovered.
Take care of yourself over these next couple of weeks. Try to rest in the joy you seek or have been given. Laugh a little bit. Smile. Be a blessing. Honor others with your words. There will still be a gazillion things to be done...but slow down and pick up your pipe and pipe a note of joy.
"Joy to the world, the Lord has come..."
You will have songs as in the night when you keep the festival,
And gladness of heart as when one marches to the sound of the flute,
To go to the mountain of the LORD, to the Rock of Israel.
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