Jesus taught that the Sabbath day was made for our benefit (see Mark 2:27). The purpose of the Sabbath is to give us a certain day of the week on which to direct our thoughts and actions toward God. It is not a day merely to rest from work. It is a sacred day to be spent in worship and reverence. As we rest from our usual daily activities, our minds are freed to ponder spiritual matters. On this day we should renew our covenants with the Lord and feed our souls on the things of the Spirit.
We've all probably heard "Keeping the Sabbath Day Holy" lessons before, and sometimes it can really seem like a list of "DO NOTs" that make us feel like we can't do anything on Sunday. Instead, if we focus on the "DOs" it will open up a world of things that we can spend our time on. Using the quote given by President Kimball as a basis for our list, we discussed these things that we CAN do on the Sabbath:
- set aside time for our family to be together
- personal study and meditation
- service to others
- read the scriptures, conference reports, and Church publications
- study the lives and teachings of the prophets
- prepare Church lessons and other Church assignments
- write in journals
- pray and meditate
- write to or visit relatives and friends
- write to missionaries
- enjoy uplifting music
- have family gospel instruction
- hold family council meetings
- build husband-wife relationships
- read with a child
- genealogical research
- work on family or personal histories
- Church hymns
- read uplifting literature
- develop our appreciation for the cultural arts
- plan family home evening study and activities
- plan other family activities
- friendship nonmembers
- fellowship neighbors
- visit the sick, the aged, and the lonely
- hold interviews with family members
That's a lot of things we can do on Sundays! President Kimball beautifully summarizes things we can do to truly observe the Sabbath and feel the spirit in this quote:
“The Sabbath is a day on which to take inventory—to analyze our weaknesses, to confess our sins to our associates and our Lord. It is a day on which to fast in ‘sackcloth and ashes.’ It is a day on which to read good books, a day to contemplate and ponder, … a day to study the scriptures and to prepare sermons, a day to nap and rest and relax, a day to visit the sick, a day to preach the gospel, a day to proselyte, a day to visit quietly with the family and get acquainted with our children, a day for proper courting, a day to do good, a day to drink at the fountain of knowledge and of instruction, a day to seek forgiveness of our sins, a day for the enrichment of our spirit and our soul, a day to restore us to our spiritual stature, a day to partake of the emblems of his sacrifice and atonement, a day to contemplate the glories of the gospel and of the eternal realms, a day to climb high on the upward path toward our Heavenly Father.”
There are so many things that we always WANT to do in life but we feel we don't have the time for in our hustle and bustle of daily living, but we can work on a lot of them on Sunday. The Sabbath is set aside for us to renew ourselves and grow closer to the Lord and feel the Holy Ghost. It is a day to strengthen our spiritual selves.
The point about each member deciding for themselves what was appropriate on the Sabbath was discussed during our lesson as well, and in a conference talk entitled "Keeping the Sabbath Day Holy," Elder Earl C. Tingey says:
"However, we should not be judgmental of others who do not believe or practice as we should. Tolerance and humility, in a personal sense, are true attributes of a follower of Christ."
We each get to have our own agency, and must allow others to do the same. One example of this is how watching TV on Sundays as a personal choice, and one that varies widely in the church. Just because something is right for us, that doesn't always make it right for everyone else.
During the lesson, we were each encouraged to pick one or two things from the list of "DOs" that we can each try to focus on the next couple of Sundays, and then once they become habits then we can work on a few more...and then a few more. Little by little we can each enrich our lives by spending our sabbath days concentrating on improving our spiritually lives.
What a great reminder for all of us. Thanks for the wonderful lesson Margie!