HYMN 208 When the Roll is Called up Yonder
German: Wenn des Herrn Posaune einst erschallt nach dieser Erden Zeit
Norwegian: I den stille, klare morgen
1 Corinthians 15:51-52; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18
Text: James Milton Black (1856-1938) Tune: James Milton Black (1856-1938)
1. When the trumpet of the Lord shall sound, And time shall be no more, And the morning breaks, eternal, bright and fair; When the saved of earth shall gather Over on the other shore, And the roll is called up yonder, I'll be there. R/When the roll is called up yonder, when the roll is called up yonder, when the roll is called up yonder, when the roll is called up yonder, I'll be there.
2. On that bright and cloudless morning When the dead in Christ shall rise, And the glory of his resurrection share; When his chosen ones shall gather To their home beyond the skies, And the roll is called up yonder, I'll be there. R/
3. Let us labor for the Master From the dawn till setting sun, Let us talk of all his wondrous love and care; 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. R/
MEDITATION Alvin Rogness, the beloved president of Luther Seminary for many years, and a consummate preacher, once said in a sermon that heaven was becoming more dear to him as more of his friends and family were there. As I grow older and find more of my friends and family have gone home, the line seems more and more true.
This has become a country western song telling what it will be like. These images are from 1 Thessalonians 4:16-18 in which Paul gives a picture of Christ descending to call us out of the grave and bring us home. It is a joyful picture of reunion and celebration. What it will be like we cannot quite know—but these images are so beautiful and rich we want to be there.
To understand eternity is not possible for us humans. It can only be presented to us in parables and images that enrapture us and fill us with a longing for the joy they describe. Eternity is another dimension, one impossible for us conceive of with our earth bound minds, but we have proof of it in Jesus. He came from eternity to become human and show us glimpses of that dimension.
The book Flatland always comes to mind when I think of eternity. The book, a minor classic by Edwin Abbott (1838-1926) in something of a parable shows us what it would be like to live in two dimensions—lines and circles—and then discover there are three dimensions. The two-dimensional creatures can only grasp the three dimensional cubes and the like as lines intersecting with their universe.
Last year I spent every day writing a sonnet on Jesus, God made flesh. Over time I had the growing sense that he lived in a dimension I could sometimes sense more clearly than at another time, but never fully. He came to be with us in flesh and blood, into our dimension to win us. And in his body and blood he feeds us eternity. I believe one day I will see him fully face to face, no longer partly, but fully, as Paul says in 1 Corinthians 13. I live by faith that he is here. Hebrews 11 says that "faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen." It has taken a life time to understand that sentence, but it seems very clear to me just now. Faith, a gift from God, brings us that other dimension and proves it. I have always thought it funny when skeptics and atheists have devoutly denied that God exists because they can’t see him. Well, doh. They can’t see him because he lives where they do not have eyes to see.
So those of us with faith live in two worlds, always listening for the sounds of eternity breaking through the veil. And this makes it urgent for us to tell others about the Master, to tell them about his love for them. The missionary impulse is filled with the urgency to tell all the world about Jesus’ love so that they will be with us in heaven. It is a generous impulse. It goes against tribalism. All are invited! Our job to get the invitations spread throughout the world and give people a hint of heaven they might come to know in their struggles and difficulties here today. At the same time making heaven even dearer to them as it fills with friends and family. We’ll be there!
HYMN INFO Black was born in South Hill, New York, but spent most of his life in Williamsport PA. He spent his life serving the Pine Tree Methodist church as hymnwriter and composer. Like many of his contemporaries he connected with the Moody Bible Institute. He wrote many gospel songs and edited over a dozen books with them. It is thought he wrote over 1500 songs. In addition he worked on the 1905 Methodist hymnal committee. The hymn transcended the hymnal tradition and became part of the country western repertoire. It has become an American classic, almost like a spiritual—and popular around the world.
LINKS The Gaither Gathering https://youtu.be/HjnKXb7bR_o
Johnny Cash https://youtu.be/sDrPLANLvTY
Mons Leidvin Takle/piano https://youtu.be/jRwHMXdbqYA
Andre Kliever Projektchor under der Leitung von Oleg Gerhardt in Bonn
Arndt Haugens Reviderte with Henning Sommerro https://youtu.be/nkweo6eVYRs
The Statler Brothers https://youtu.be/ifISVkfMC7s