Thursday, July 23, 2009

The Joy of the Sabbath; A Day of Rest

"11 For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it." Exodus 20:11

The practice of observing the Sabbath seems to be dwindling in our society today. When I was a child growing up in Texas, there were "Blue Laws" that regulated what kind of businesses could be open on Sunday, and also prohibited employers from penalizing employees who, for religious reasons, didn't want to work on Sunday. But most of those laws have been repealed, and many businesses get their best sales on Sunday. Truly, Sabbath observance has changed.

I have found many blessings from observing the Sabbath. In our church, oberving the Sabbath has many meanings. First and foremost, for us obeserving the Sabbath means to go to church and renew our covenants by taking the sacrament. This sacred opporunity helps us to focus on how we are doing in keeping the covenants we made at baptism. It also helps us to remember the sacrfices the Lord made for us.

In Latter-day revelation we are told, "And that thou mayest more fully keep thyself unspotted from the world, thou shalt go to the house of prayer and offer up thy sacraments upon my holy day;" Doctrine and Covenants 59:9 What I love about this scripture is that it plainly tells us that if we want to keep ourselves spiritually healthy, and unspotted from the evils of the world, an important way to do this is by observing the Sabbath, and partaking of the sacrament on that day. My goal in observing the Sabbath is to take myself out of the world and focus on spiritual things.

Here are some things I have found helpful in observing the Sabbath, and taking myself out of the world.

--I don't shop or frequent other businesses on the Sabbath
--In addition, we do not eat out on Sundays. I don't want to make someone else work on the Sabbath.
--I don't attend other community events or sporting events on the Sabbath, but instead try to focus more on spiritual activities.
--I don't clean house on the Sabbath. Sunday is my day of rest.
--In our home we have chosen to keep the television and radio turned off on Sunday, except for religious broadcasting.
--In our employment, we don't work on the Sabbath. We recognize, however, that there are some jobs that must be done on Sunday such as medical care, or police work. As I have kept this goal in my life, the Lord has blessed me with employment that didn't require me to work on Sunday.
--I do feel that visiting the sick or others who need friendship is good to do on the Sabbath
--Sundays are a good day to write in journals, study the scriptures, or write letters to loved ones.
--Attending church meetings helps me to not only renew my covenants, but to also fellowship with people who have the same beliefs as me.

My main focus in observing the Sabbath is to try to take myself, and my family out of the world. I remember when I was a missionary in the missionary training center in Provo, Utah many years ago. One day a week we were given free time to take care of personal matters such as shopping and laundry. On that day, my companion and I sometimes went to the mall to shop for last minute items before leaving the country, and to get out and enjoy window shopping. After being in the missionary training environment for the entire week, I was so shocked at the barrage of merchandising in the mall. I could really feel the worldliness of it, and realized that most of us become desensitized to it all and find it normal when we live with it on a daily basis. I have found that taking just one day a week on Sunday to take myself out of that worldliness helps me to keep from getting to caught up in the ways of the world.

I do believe that in some ways Sabbath observance begins on Saturday. That is the day that I prepare for the Sabbath. I plan ahead what we will eat so that I can buy the necessary ingredients before Sunday. We fill up our car with gas so that we won't be forced to fill it on the Sabbath. It does take a little planning, but we have felt the blessings of taking ourselves out of the world one day a week. It truly has become a day of rest, not only physically, but mentally and spiritually. President Brigham Young said this of why we observe the Sabbath: “To keep us in remembrance of our God and our holy religion. … We are so liable to forget—so prone to wander, that we need to have the Gospel sounded in our ears as much as once, twice, or thrice a week, or, behold, we will turn again to our idols” (Discourses of Brigham Young, sel. John A. Widtsoe, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1978, p. 165).

Elder Charles Didier said, "Now is the time to ask ourselves: Is the Sabbath a holy day or a holiday? Shall I worship Him or worship pleasure or work?" Charles Didier, “The Sabbath—Holy Day or Holiday?,” Ensign, Oct 1994, 26

I have a true testimony of the observance of the Sabbath day. I have seen the blessings in my life. The scriptures also promise many blessings that will come as we keep the Sabbath day holy:

“If thou turn away thy foot from the sabbath, 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” (Isa. 58:13–14).

No comments: