Sacred Music Sunday: When the Roll Is Called up Yonder
When I joined the church in the mid-1990s, there seemed to be an unspoken (and sometimes spoken) consensus that the Second Coming was right around the corner. We were living in the last days, and surely the world would come to an end soon. I wondered if I would grow old. Y2K came and went. 9/11 happened, and we were still here. And then after a few years, everyone seemed to come to a collective agreement to relax about it a little bit.
When I was on my mission in 2003, a general authority came to speak at a zone conference. I don’t remember the rest of his talk, but I do remember one part where he started talking about the last days and the Second Coming. He said, “Elders and Sisters, give me a show of hands. How many of you think that the Second Coming could happen tomorrow?” I looked around the room. My hand was the only one that didn’t go up – I knew that not all of the scriptural prophecies had been fulfilled yet. He continued and said, “How long does a 3 1/2 year war take?” There was a mumbling in the room as the hands went down.
I personally think that the Second Coming won’t be for another 4 billion years or so – I think the end of the world will be the literal end of the world, and that’s about how much more time our solar system has. But the scriptures also say that no one knows when, so I remain open to being wrong on that point.
I’ve seen an uptick in apocalyptic rhetoric lately. It’s understandable – a global pandemic, an unprecedented recession, civil unrest, dust clouds, locusts, etc. It sure looks like we’re reading straight out of the book of Revelation sometimes. It’s gotten me thinking. Every day is someone’s Second Coming. Rather than focusing on meeting Jesus with Him coming in clouds of glory to fix the world, we should be focusing on meeting Jesus at the end of our mortal journey. If we live well, it won’t matter whether He returns during our lifetimes, because we’ll meet Him either way.
One song that I really like that gets at this point is When the Roll Is Called up Yonder. It’s catchy and celebratory, focusing on the day of resurrection. “Then when all of life is over and our work on Earth is done, and the roll is called up yonder, I’ll be there.”