Sunday, September 18, 2011

The Sabbath Part I – A Holy Day

(this was going to be one article, but it started getting really long, so I decided to divide it into a five part series. I will be posting one part of the article each week for the next four weeks. I hope it can help someone who is trying to deepen their understand of the Sabbath)

I have been thinking a lot about Sabbath day observance lately, thanks to Elder L. Tom Perry’s General Conference talk at April General Conference

I had already had proper Sabbath day observance on my mind because of a post I read over at LDS Women of God about the Sabbath day.

From the Church website, I read, “Because the Sabbath is a holy day, it should be reserved for worthy and holy activities. 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.” This is similar to what Elder Perry mentioned in his talk. 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.

So I decided to do a little more research on about the Sabbath, and I found a few really helpful articles. The first was an article by President Spencer W. Kimball, The Sabbath: A Delight which gave a lot of really great insight into the purpose of the Sabbath and what kinds of activities are and aren’t appropriate for the Sabbath. The other was an issue of The New of the Church which outlined the change back in the 80s from the old, spread-throughout-the-week schedule of Church meetings to the current three hour block of Church meetings on Sundays. These two articles together really helped me get a better understanding of the Sabbath, and helped me recommit to remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy.

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. The commandment was reiterated in latter day revelation. And yet, so many faithful Latter-day Saints (I say faithful because they are faithful in all other respects – paying full tithes, giving service, etc) break the Sabbath and barely bat an eyelash. President Kimball was concerned that “in their breach of the Sabbath they often take their families with them.”

When the Church switched the Church meeting schedule to the three hour block, about two years after President Kimball’s article, they mentioned that one purpose for the change was to “emphasize home-centered Sabbath activities.” Which leads us to the age-old question: “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.”

The articles and talks referenced in this series will be:
The Sabbath and the Sacrament, Elder L. Tom Perry, April 2011 General Conference
The Sabbath – A Delight, President Spencer W. Kimball, Ensign January 1978
News of The Church, March 1980
Sacrament Meeting and the Sacrament, Elder Dalin H. Oaks, October 2008 General Conference

The parts of this series will be:

Part II – Staying Unspotted: What it means to keep ourselves unspotted from the world
Part III – Offer Up Thy Sacraments: The Sacrament, sacrament meetings, and what it means to offer up sacraments
Part IV – Rest From Our Labors: a discussion about resting on the Sabbath and appropriate Sabbath day “labor”
Part V – Worthy and Holy Activities: a few pointers to help you decide if your Sabbath day activities pass the test

What questions do you have about the Sabbath? Do you feel like your Sabbath day worship is in line with gospel principles? How do you determine if an activity is appropriate for the Sabbath? Do you feel like Sabbath day worship is a chore, or is it a delight for you?

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