“Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.”
I remember jogging around the Washington Memorial or along neighborhood streets in suburban Virginia on Sundays, before joining The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Sunday was then but another day, a free day. Catch up time. Now, Sunday comes in a different package.
As a “Mormon” Woman (“Mormon” is a nickname for members of the Savior’s re-established Church), I look forward to the Sabbath for different reasons. I see it as the day of spiritual rejuvenation and re-commitment to Jesus Christ. It is a day to take the sacrament, remember His matchless sacrifice, and stand as His witness. It is my day to be with my family and to contemplate spiritual things: a day of alignment, a day of worship, a day of service, a day to refine my focus, a day of covenant-making (Exodus 31:16-17), a day of cleansing.
To walk away from Sacrament service is to walk away as clean as when we were baptized, if we sincerely partook of the blessed bread and water, and are without any serious sins that would require priesthood help to resolve. Mormons believe and attest that the Sacrament is conferred by those who have received the priesthood of God, restored in our day, and that through God’s divine power, we can be forgiven of our sins each Sunday as we partake of the Sacrament in His Church.
Sometimes, when we see others taking out their boats or picking up golf clubs on a bright sunny Sunday, Mormons or other Christians may ask if our efforts to align ourselves with the Sabbath are worth it.
I testify that they are not only worth it; they reflect our view and vision of Christ. I remember when a child asked me why a neighboring teen could watch all kinds of videos, and play in recreational sports on Sunday. Was this other teen who was striving to keep the Sabbath holy and honor the Lord losing out?
We often see the immediate without seeing the eternal. One who temporarily chooses ‘fun’ or pleasure forfeits a closeness with the Lord that is eternally sweeter than a Sunday at the lake. Once we really taste the blessings of the Sabbath, it is not a restriction; it is the best refreshment for our souls. It is not a day of forfeiting pleasure but of feeling the Lord’s joy.
The late Mormon prophet, Harold B. Lee, taught, “You who make the violation of the Sabbath a habit, by your failure to keep it holy, are losing a soul full of joy for a thimble full of pleasure.” I love that.
Of course there are those who need to work on Sunday, such as hospital doctors, policemen, or others who might have no choice, through no fault of their own. For these people, keeping the Sabbath might hinge on their frame of mind rather than their church attendance. They might devote greater time to scripture study on Sundays, listen to conference talks, or try to perform their necessary work with a focus on serving those around them.
On the Sabbath, we can increase our personal power through prayer, sacrament, studying the scriptures, church attendance, and especially the ordinance of fasting. One Sunday a month, Mormons believe in fasting and gifting to the poor a generous offering. It’s not only an indicator of a strong spiritual relationship with Jesus Christ, it is a day when we can increase our ability to serve Him.
Another of the Lord’s apostles, Mark E. Peterson, stated it this way, “It is a sign of whether we are Christians in very deed, or whether our conversion is so shallow that commemoration of his atoning sacrifice means little or nothing to us… I bear you testimony that to properly observe the Lord’s holy day is one of the most important things we can ever do. It is an essential step toward our eternal salvation.”
Who wouldn’t look forward to more one-on-one time with God, and with our families; preparing meals in advance to simplify one day a week; learning more of our genealogy; resting and meditating; contacting relatives who don’t live nearby; reaching out to those who need us; or serving in church assignments, once they feel the joy that comes from glorifying God this way?
As Mormons and other Christians regard the Sabbath as they do the Lord, it becomes easier to leave out overworking on Saturday, or anything that depletes our energy or ability to do anything meaningful or attend meetings on Sunday. We also try to avoid filling Sunday so full of meetings that there is not time for prayer, family, meditation, or family counseling. It becomes easier to set the rest of our activities aside for other days.
As we obey the Sabbath, I testify that we can see the hand of the Lord move more dynamically across the pages of our lives and feel His love and presence more intimately every day of the week.
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