Today I ventured out to a meeting with our Stake Council. This includes the Stake Presidency, High Council, and all the other organizations that direct the affairs of the stake. Despite the early time (7:00 am), I felt like it was time to stop using my surgery as an excuse to stay home. It was a bit of a stretch, but I made it and got some good information.
Since the April Conference of the Church, we have been receiving training from the leaders of the Church on how to be better Sabbath observers. Our Prophet and His councilors plus the Quorum of the Twelve have been sharing ideas that are meant to help us do a better job of keeping the Sabbath holy. Frankly, I could use some reminders from time-to-time so I appreciate the efforts.
Today was a follow-up to the previous training we received. This time it was a little more specific in ways we can improve our worship on the Sabbath. But rather than recycle things we have heard all our lives, our leaders shared, via a roundtable discussion, some of the things they do to help make this day important to themselves and their families. It was good for me to listen because I have gotten a little sloppy in some areas of my worship. I want to focus on three of the most important areas that caught my attention.
#1 – Make the Sabbath a delight!!
I remember as a kid really disliking Sunday because it was full of lots of DONT’S.
Don’t play outside.
Don’t watch movies.
Don’t turn on the TV.
Don’t have fun of any kind!!
In actuality, most of those weren’t hard and fast but they did seem to infringe on having a good day. It seemed like we had to walk around on pins-and-needles for a whole day so we didn’t offend anyone. And when I became a parent it was just as bad cause I became the enforcer of the don’ts.
But as Teresa and I tried to make things better with our children, we began to realize that the day needed to be a happy one and not one of fear or misery. So our don’t list got a little shorter and we tried to find things we could do as a family. We made it a point to go visit some of the elderly people in our neighborhood (which seemed to help the kids be not so afraid of them). Often times we would make cookies together or have candied popcorn while we played games. And we even added some family appropriate TV shows that weren’t too far out of bounds for our day of worship. It made a difference and I hope relieved some of the stress our kids felt when they were younger.
#2 – The Sabbath is meant for Worship
The most important part of Sabbath observance is attending church and partaking of the Sacrament. Nothing is more important because that is the one time, each week, when we can renew the covenants we have made with God. As we remember the Savior and His Atoning Sacrifice, we can reflect on the week and finalize the repentance we need for our sins that week. The power of the Holy Ghost is abundant in that service/ordinance and will testify that we have been forgiven if we have done our part. The worship of God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ is the main purpose of gathering together in our meetings. When we are focused on Their efforts for us, our hearts are drawn to the things we can do to overcome the world. Worship is the purpose of the Sabbath.
#3 – Our Sabbath commitment is a sign – a perpetual reminder of the covenant we have made as followers of Christ
When we choose to accept Jesus Christ as our Savior and declare, by baptism, that we are His followers, we make a covenant to do three things for the rest of our lives:
1. To always remember Him and His sacrifice for our benefit
2. To keep His commandments to the best of our abilities
3. To take upon ourselves His name and act, in all things, as He would act
The Sabbath day is our day, given by God and Christ, to be different than we are every other day of the week. Not just in the way we act (though that is part of it), but in the way we think and remember. Sunday is God’s day and all we do is to be done for His benefit and to remember Him.
When Moses descended from Sinai with the stone tablets, there were 10 commandments engraved thereon. The fourth was the Lord’s way of helping us be aware of the first three and save our souls from destruction. Keeping the Sabbath day holy is not a commandment most of the world is concerned with today. The days has become something less than it should be. Only by remembering God and Christ, on their special day, can we bring down the blessings promised by our Heavenly Father.
I believe that the state of the world makes it clear that we must, once again, make observance of the Sabbath a priority. Otherwise, the blessings we desire may be withheld until we do.