I have been thinking a lot about Sabbath day observance lately.
Many people will probably think this post is to much. This is simply my opinion and my understanding of keeping the Sabbath day holy.
Because the Sabbath is a holy day, it should be reserved for worthy and holy activities.
After all, holy means dedicated or consecrated to God, sacred.
Abstaining from work and recreation is not enough. In fact, those who merely lounge about doing nothing on the Sabbath fail to keep the day holy. It is not enough just to "rest" from our labors. We need to devote the time on the Sabbath to the Lord and His work.
President Kimball mentioned that we have "become a world of Sabbath breakers." He pointed out that while some may think the breaking the Sabbath is not a very serious sin, "to our Heavenly Father it is disobedience to one of the principal commandments." The commandment to keep the Sabbath day holy has been around since before this world. And when God created the world, He even rested on the seventh day. Moses was given the commandment to keep the Sabbath day holy in the ten commandments on Mount Sinai. This commandment was reiterated in latter day revelation as well.
Sabbath observance is eternal.
"What activities are appropriate for the Sabbath?" or perhaps, the question many ask, "What can I do on the Sabbath?"
Elder Perry said, "As we consider the pattern of the Sabbath and the sacrament in our own lives, there appear to be three things the Lord requires of us: first, to keep ourselves unspotted from the world; second, to go to the house of prayer and offer up our sacraments; and third, to rest from our labors."
In President Kimball's article, he gave several examples of communities which kept the Sabbath, and communities that broke the Sabbath. He spoke of communities where the hay balers stood idle in the field and the businesses were all closed. He spoke of other communities where people were lined up at the theater, or heading off for the hunt on the Sabbath. The Lord expects us to avoid recreation and business transactions on the Sabbath. Elder Perry called these "worldly distractions."
President Kimball clarified the problem with recreation and business on the Sabbath. "There is no criticism of legitimate recreation—sports, picnics, plays, and motion pictures… But there is a proper time and place for all worthwhile things—a time for work, a time for play, a time for worship." It is good to have one day where we remove ourselves completely from the world and simply worship. He went on to say, "Sometimes Sabbath observance is characterized as a matter of sacrifice and self-denial, but it is not so. It is merely a matter of shifting times and choosing seasons. There is time enough, particularly in our era of the world's history, during the six days of the week in which to do our work and play. Much can be done to organize and encourage weekday activities, avoiding the Sabbath." There is a time and a season for all things, and with careful planning, we can do all our work and play in the other six days of the week, and save the Sabbath for worshipping the Lord. I have discovered this counsel from President Kimball to be true. Although I am currently serving a mission to help build up the Lord's Kingdom, and I am serving and worshiping Him nearly 24/7. I still find Sunday a separate, blessed day, and look forward to it greatly. It sustains me through the week, without a shadow of a doubt.
There are some "jobs" that we must do on the Sabbath that may actually be good to do on the Sabbath. President Kimball said, "some of the work that is truly necessary—caring for the sick, for example—may actually serve to hallow the Sabbath." Because caring for the sick, and offering that service to the feeble is something that we may do to keep the Sabbath even if it isn't our paid job, working that job can be an experience that brings us closer to Heavenly Father, and helps us honor Him. President Kimball, however, cautioned, "in such activities our motives are a most important consideration."
Elder Perry said, "The Sabbath provides us with a precious opportunity to offer up these—our sacraments—to the Lord." "Partaking of the sacrament is the center of our Sabbath day observance." The partaking of the sacrament in our Church meetings should be the most significant event of our entire Sabbath observance.
"The Sabbath is not a day for indolent lounging about the house or puttering around in the garden, but is a day for consistent attendance at meetings for the worship of the Lord, drinking at the fountain of knowledge and instruction, enjoying the family, and finding uplift in music and song." You will see this quote again. I really like that President Kimball points out here that the Sabbath isn't just a day for us to do nothing. I think it is like the Spirit world – we will still be working in the Spirit world, but we will be allowed to rest from care and sorrow. The Sabbath is kind of like that. We still work, but the work is a spiritual work, rather than a temporal work.
The Sabbath is a day for us to worship the Lord, attending meetings and teaching each other and receiving knowledge and instruction. We go to our Church meetings so that we can be instructed in the gospel and most importantly, so we can partake of the sacrament and renew the covenants that we made at baptism.
President Kimball had a few more words to say regarding attendance at Church meetings. "But we do not go to Sabbath meetings to be entertained or even solely to be instructed. We go to worship the Lord. It is an individual responsibility, and regardless of what is said from the pulpit, if one wishes to worship the Lord in spirit and in truth, he may do so by attending his meetings, partaking of the sacrament, and contemplating the beauties of the gospel. If the service is a failure to you, you have failed. No one can worship for you; you must do your own waiting upon the Lord."
^Woah. So good. I'm so applying this.
We have to prepare for our Sunday meetings by reading, studying, and praying, and most importantly by having the right attitude and spirit while we are at our Church meetings. It is not the speaker's duty to educate, edify, and instruct us. If the speaker is engaging, or the topic particularly relevant to us, or the presentation pleasing, that is fine. But no matter the speaker's abilities, we can and will receive instruction and edification from the Holy Spirit, who is the true teacher. "You must do your own waiting upon the Lord."
Elder Dallin H. Oaks taught us how to prepare for sacrament meeting. He reminded us that we are to come to the sacrament table with a broken heart and a contrite spirit. "We are seated well before the meeting begins. 'During that quiet interval, prelude music is subdued. This is not a time for conversation or transmission of messages but a period of prayerful meditation as leaders and members prepare spiritually for the sacrament.'" Our attitude toward and our behavior during the ordinance of the sacrament can set the tone for the rest of our Sabbath worship, both in our meetings and in our homes.
Elder Oaks also cautioned against being distracted during the ordinance of the sacrament. "During sacrament meeting—and especially during the sacrament service—we should concentrate on worship and refrain from all other activities, especially from behavior that could interfere with the worship of others… Sacrament meeting is not a time for reading books or magazines. Brothers and Sisters, it is not a time for whispered conversations on cell phones or for texting persons at other locations."
"When we partake of the sacrament, we make a sacred covenant that we will always remember the Savior. How sad to see persons obviously violating that covenant in the very meeting where they are making it." May we offer up our sacraments and be sincere and serious about the covenants we renew each week in sacrament meeting.
How do you prepare to offer your sacraments to the Lord? Do you find yourself struggling to get something out of sacrament meeting? Do you come to your meetings with an attitude to be taught by the spirit? Or do you rather come to be entertained?
Elder Perry said, "Sometimes we think of resting from our labors as merely letting the hay baler stand idle in the field or putting a Closed sign on the business door." President Kimball said, "Abstinence from work and recreation is important, but insufficient."
Our "work" these days is often done in the home, from the home, and sometimes it is hard to stay away from those work related activities in our homes. There are also other types of "work" we must rest from. "business activities we may accomplish from home, athletic competitions, and other pursuits that take us away from Sabbath day worship and the opportunity to minister to others." I think that Elder Perry's description of "work" can help us make our own judgments about what we should and should not do on the Sabbath. Anything that "takes us away from Sabbath day worship and the opportunity to minister to others" is probably not an appropriate activity for the Sabbath.
"The Sabbath calls for constructive thoughts and acts, and if one merely lounges about doing nothing on the Sabbath, he is breaking it." What? It's breaking the Sabbath to lounge around? I thought we were supposed to "rest from our labors"?
A few months ago we studied the Gospel Principles lesson on the Spirit World and one of the characteristics of the Spirit world is that "The spirit world is a place of waiting, working, learning, and, for the righteous, resting from care and sorrow." It seems contradictory to talk about "working" and "resting" in the same sentence, but that is exactly what the Spirit world will be like – we will rest from care and sorrow (from worldly things) and yet we will be working to save souls. Do you see the parallel with the Sabbath? On the Sabbath we rest from worldly pursuits and instead focus all our efforts on spiritual pursuits.
Taking a nap to rejuvenate your body and mind is obviously very appropriate for the Sabbath, but if your nap is three hours long you are probably missing out on "the opportunity to minister to others" on the Sabbath. And if you are needing a nap or to sleep in because you were out partying all night long on Saturday, or because you stayed up late Saturday night playing videos games or watching movies, then that is not really a good reason for a nap. Our preparation for the Sabbath day begins on Saturday. Remember that Primary song? "Saturday is a special day it's the day we get ready for Sunday." I remember my Mom used to sing that song on Saturday as we did chores around the house getting it ready for the Sabbath. I also believe it is helpful to retire early on Saturday night so that we will be rested and refreshed for the Sabbath day.
How do you rest on the Sabbath day? Do you choose only activities that will allow you to attend your meetings and that will allow you to find opportunities to minister to others?
Several months ago I had a conversation with a friend of mine who is a recent convert to the Church. I mentioned something about not going out to eat on Sunday, and she said to me, "Wait, we can't go out to eat on Sunday?" My friend was sincerely wanting to learn more about the Sabbath, so we had an opportunity to talk more about the Sabbath.
The first thing that struck me when she asked, "Wait, we can't go out to eat on Sunday?" was that word "can't." To me, it's not as much about can't as it is about don't. We don't go out to eat on the Sabbath because we are too busy participating in "worthy and holy activities." President Kimball said, "The Sabbath is a holy day in which to do worthy and holy things." Of course, that leaves us with the question "What is a worthy or holy activity?"
The Family Home Evening Manual has a really good "test" for Sabbath day activities. "To determine whether a specific activity is appropriate, ask, 'Does it bring me closer to my Heavenly Father?'" This should be a pretty easy question to answer, but the answer for this question might not be the same for every person. Each of us must ask this question about our own situation. Prayerfully ask this question, and you will probably be keeping the Sabbath day holy.
President Kimball had some suggestions for appropriate Sabbath day activities. "The Sabbath … is a day for consistent attendance at meetings for the worship of the Lord, drinking at the fountain of knowledge and instruction, enjoying the family, and finding uplift in music and song." He also said that to observe the Sabbath day, "one will be on his knees in prayer, preparing lessons, studying the gospel, meditating, visiting the ill and distressed, writing letters to missionaries, taking a nap, reading wholesome material, and attending all the meetings of that day at which he is expected."
The Church News listed some good suggestions as well.
[Families] may wish to spend some time with the family each Sunday in gospel discussion and instruction, under the direction of the head of the household. They may use the scriptures, the most recent general conference talks, family home evening manuals, Church publications, and other publications as a resource.
Other appropriate Sunday activities include (1) writing personal and family journals, (2) holding family councils, (3) establishing and maintaining family organizations for the immediate and extended family, (4) personal interviews between parents and children, (5) writing to relatives and missionaries, (6) genealogy, (7) visiting relatives and those who are ill or lonely, (8) missionary work, (9) reading stories to children, and (10) singing Church hymns.
Our situations are all different, and that is the beauty of personal revelation. The Lord can help us find, through revelation, the activities that are appropriate for the Sabbath and the things that will bring us closer to Him and help us worship Him on His holy day. Whether you are single, married with no children, a part member family, or a grandma and grandpa with many grown children, you can still put forth an effort to keep the Sabbath day holy, and the Lord will bless your efforts.
The prophet Isaiah taught;
If thou turn away … from doing thy pleasure on my holy day; and call the sabbath a delight, the holy of the Lord, honourable; and shalt honour him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words:
Then shalt thou delight thyself in the Lord; and I will cause thee to ride upon the high places of the earth, and feed thee with the heritage of Jacob thy father: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.
The Sabbath day isn't a day to deprive us of "fun" things – it is a day for us to practice putting our will in line with the Lord's will, finding the things that He would have us do, and growing closer to Him in the process.
What a blessing it is that the Lord would set aside an entire day so that we can devote all that time to growing closer to Him without having to worry about all our worldly cares!
So this Sunday, as you plan activities with your family, ask yourself, "Does it bring me closer to Heavenly Father?"
What kinds of activities do you participate in on the Sabbath? Do you have specific struggles that make Sabbath day observance a challenge?
Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.
The Lord has given the Sabbath day for your benefit and has commanded you to keep it holy.
Observing the Sabbath will bring you closer to the Lord and to your family. It will give you an eternal perspective and spiritual strength.
John H. Groberg offered this promise to those who honor the Sabbath:
"Does the Lord love and bless those who keep the Sabbath day holy? I testify that he does in eternally meaningful ways. I further testify that when we eventually see things through the proper perspective of eternal truth, we will be amazed at how much we were blessed in important-though often unperceived-ways through keeping the Sabbath holy; and to our sorrow we may sense how many blessings we kept from ourselves by not consistently keeping the Sabbath day holy.
There is a direct correlation between the proper observance of the Sabbath and true reverence for God, which includes obedience to his other commandments."
While out here on my mission a few months back, we had a question come from a member of another faith. He sincerely wanted to know why we honored the sabbath on Sunday instead of on Saturday.
I took the matter seriously and knew that I had to really find out more. For several days I did an in-depth study coupled with much prayer as to the 'why's' of the Sabbath and the reasons that the Lord taught us to serve Him and use the day in worship.
That question proved to be a tremendous faith-builder for me. I researched and pondered on many things that I hadn't known before. My understanding of the sacredness of the day and it is a protection in the last days for those who honor it - nourished the seed that was already planted in me and....taught me a tremendous amount about the Lord's reasons for his commandments.
President Kimball shared some powerful truths about the importance of the day:
"We have become largely a world of Sabbath breakers. On the Sabbath the lakes are full of boats, the beaches are crowded, the shows have their best attendance, the golf links are dotted with players. The Sabbath is the preferred day for rodeos, conventions, family picnics; even ball games are played on the sacred day. "Business as usual" is the slogan for many, and our holy day has become a holiday. And because so many people treat the day as a holiday, numerous others cater to the wants of the fun-lovers and money-makers.
"To many, Sabbath-breaking is not important, but to our Heavenly Father it is disobedience to one of the principal commandments. Moses came down from the quaking, smoking Mount Sinai and brought to the wandering children of Israel the Ten Commandments, which are fundamental rules for the conduct of life. These commandments, however, were not new. They had been known to Adam and his posterity, who had been commanded to live them from the beginning, and were merely reiterated by the Lord to Moses. These commandments even antedated earth life and were part of the test for mortals established in the council in heaven "to see if they will do all things whatsoever the Lord their God shall command them." (Abr. 3:25.)
"Sabbath-breakers, also are those people who buy commodities or entertainment on the Sabbath, thus encouraging pleasure palaces and business establishments to remain open—which they otherwise would not do. If we buy, sell, trade, or support such on the Lord's day we are as rebellious as the children of Israel, the dire consequences of whose transgressions against this and other commandments should be a permanent warning to us all."
We do live in a day of much Sabbath-breaking. If we heed prophetic counsel we will have promised blessings. If we live after the manner of the world - we're not promised the same.
I came upon a message from Sister Elaine Cannon who said "When the Prophet speaks, the debate is over." And...a message from a church speaker one day who reminded that "right is always right even if no one is doing it and....wrong is always wrong even if 'everyone' is doing it'.
I love the Sabbath day. It provides rest and relief from long, hard weeks, and a time to rest from the cares of the world. It's a time for reflection, renewing and rejuvenation.
Sunday= A Holy Day, Not a Holiday
Under Mosaic law, it was a capital offense to violate the Sabbath (Exodus 31:14-15).
Though we do not have such harsh punishments today for failure to honor the Sabbath, it is a commandment that is often still broken. A former prophet, Spencer W. Kimball said: "Every week we find people defiantly carrying on their work and play activities on the Lord's day. Shops and stores carry large signs: 'Open Sunday.' Factories and businesses run with 'full steam ahead.' Houses are displayed and sold. Beaches, parks, and other places of amusement enjoy their best business. Long waiting lines of people stand before ticket offices of theaters. The ball games and rodeos attract their thousands and families have their reunions in parks and canyons.
"Students study their secular lessons. Stockmen round up their cattle. People travel when unnecessary. Farmers plow and harvest and cultivate their crops. Some businessmen close their offices but spend their Sabbaths in streams, fishing, and in mountains, hunting, and in canyons, loafing. Women do their cleaning and other housework. Others explore and hike. The people, as a whole, seem to be on wheels—the highways are crowded. Half-clad men are clipping hedges, cutting lawns. Lunch stands and drive-ins work almost in a frenzy. Women in housecoats and unshaven men spend hours lazing about their homes. The socially elite hold receptions and teas, and week after week the Sabbath is desecrated and the law of God defied."
On the flip side, the blessings of keeping the Sabbath holy are numerous. Promises of protection, plenty, and spiritual power come from keeping this commandment. In my own experience, our family has found this to be true. Isaiah said the rewards of obeying this commandment are having confidence in the presence of God and attaining exaltation.
Although this commandment was given long ago, it has not been revoked or changed by God – its observance has been changed by men. Keeping the Sabbath day holy is just as important for us as it was for ancient Israel. Another former church leader, H. Aldridge Gillespie, said it best in October 2000: "The promises of the Lord to those who keep the Sabbath day holy are so wonderfully clear in the scriptures that they leave one asking, 'Why would anyone throw away such blessings for the tawdry, temporary pleasures of the world?' I know you will be happier, enjoy greater peace, and find your lives made glad as you witness the miracles that come to each person and family who make the sacrifice of keeping this eternal covenant."
Sent from my missionary iPad
Elder B. Jordan Falslev
Washington DC South Mission
8031 Juliet Lane Apt. 201
Manassas, Virginia 20109