In biblical times, the commandment to keep the Sabbath day holy was so strict that violation of it called for the death penalty! But how exactly can we spend 24 hours worth of “holy” every week?
How can we keep Sundays holy, especially if you have active children who simply can’t be expected to quietly reflect on the Savior for hours on end? Adults often think that such quiet activity is how to keep the Lord’s Day holy, but there is so much more to this commandment than just that.
There is no absolute list of do’s and don’ts for correct Sabbath observance, but Sunday should feel different than any of the other days of the week. The Lord has given us a good set of guidelines in Doctrine and Covenants 59:9.
Robert J. Matthews explained that “a day of rest does not mean idleness; it signifies a change of emphasis. In plain terms, ‘keeping the Sabbath Day holy’ means to use the day in worshiping God and doing good to our fellow beings.”
When we worship God, we reveal our feelings about Him and demonstrate our devotion and commitment. We can show worship through music, prayer, service, word, and reverence.
What Should I do on Sundays?
When my children were younger, I would hear “There’s nothing good to do on Sundays”…..about every 7 days, to be exact! I meant to prove them wrong and started creating a list! That list turned into a book that focused on the “Do’s”, rather than the “Dont’s.”
The list turned into my book “Sabbath Solutions: More Than 250 Ways You Can Worship on the Lord’s Day”
- Create several stations around the house where different Sunday activities take place, such as watching church videos, reading church magazines, writing letters to missionaries, making cookies for others, creating visual aids for tomorrow’s Family Home Evening lesson, etc. Use a timer and have the family rotate through the stations every 15 minutes or so.
- Make “Quiet Books” using photographs of your family members being reverent in different ways. Small children can look at the books during Sacrament meeting to remind them to be reverent.
- Make a collage or draw pictures showing your blessings.
- Make charts for family members to show their progress in scripture reading or memorizing certain passages.
- Make puzzles out of pictures from old church magazines.
- Make play dough and create people and shapes from favorite scripture stories such as a Liahona, the gold plates or Noah’s ark.
- Create a family mailbox to keep inside your home that you fill with sweet letters to each other.
- Make a gift or treat for your Bishop, home teachers, a Seminary class, or other church leaders who bless your lives.
- Create a family flag or banner to display in your home.
- Decorate a pillow case with scriptures or other sweet thoughts to fill your mind as you drift off to sleep.
- Learn about the traditions and foods eaten during Passover. Find out if there is a special Passover event nearby where you could attend as a guest.
- Learn about other cultures. Find out how the Church is progressing in different parts of the world. Prepare a meal from a foreign country.
- Listen to classical music and art. Learn about some of the famous composers and artists.
- Have everyone in the family choose different books to read during the next few Sundays. When everyone has finished reading have each person present an oral report about what they learned from their book. Start a Book Club.
- Do an inventory of your food storage. Update your 72 hour kits in your home and cars.
- Update all of your smoke alarm batteries and review your emergency plans of exit with your family. Prepare “every needful thing.”
- Help your son work on a Scouting requirement. Help your daughter work on her Young Women awards.
- Make a puppet show about a scripture story, then share it at Family Home Evening or even at Primary.
- Hold a family council.
- Have individual interviews with your children. Review their goals, hopes and dreams.
- Take family photos outside somewhere in a beautiful setting.
- Write a list of all the good qualities of each family member. Share the list with them or just refer to it when you’re having a hard time remembering why you really do love them!
- Show home movies or slides of when everyone was younger. Tell stories of when parents were young and how they met, what things were like then, etc.
- Plan your next family vacation. Talk about how you will keep the Sabbath Day holy if your trip involves a Sunday stay.
- Plan a family reunion. Research locations where you could gather for the big event. Write or call relatives who could help you organize it. Make assignments. Pick a theme.
- Meet some of your neighbors. If they’re new bring them a copy of the local newspaper or list of helpful phone numbers, along with a plate of cookies and your phone number. If you’re the ones who are new introduce your family with a plate of goodies.
- Invite two or three families from church to your home for ice cream “Sundays” and talk about your favorite Sunday traditions.
- Leave treats at the doorstep of two families in the ward with a note telling them to carry on the good “Sabbath Secret” deed. Within a few weeks most of the ward will have received a fun surprise!
- Create a gospel version of your favorite board game by substituting the original questions with gospel questions. Be creative and make temple markers or choose prizes that represent blessings.
- Play Charades using scripture stories, names of prophets or other church events.
- Have a Scripture Chase event! Use scriptures that your family already knows or is working on or use the selected scriptures from Seminary.
- Create a treasure hunt using scriptures as clues. Choose an object to hunt for such as a new set of scriptures, church stickers or a favorite dessert.
- Like Nephi did with the small plates, keep a special journal where you record only your spiritual experiences.
- Create a photo pedigree chart of your family. Research your family’s historic coat of arms. Find out about the symbols.
- Volunteer to take pictures of tombstones at your local cemetery as part of the project for www.gravestonephotos.com
- Update your will and other legal documents. Make sure your “house is in order.”
- Watch broadcasts of BYU devotionals.
- Every Ward and Stake should have a posted list of missionary and service opportunities. Check out what you could do to help in your area.
- Call the Mission office nearest you and ask if there are some missionaries who haven’t received mail or support from home that you could help.
- Go “Sunday caroling.” Visit other members in your ward or branch and sing them a few hymns to lift their spirits.
- Do science experiments to understand God’s fascinating world. Study how the Lord used scientific principles in the scriptures.
- Look up addresses and phone numbers for your Congressmen and Senators. Write them a letter about an issue you feel strongly about. Thank them for the good they are doing.
- Take treats to your local firemen. Thank them for the service they provide to your community.
- Find out what you need to do to start a Neighborhood Watch in your area. Call the local police department and talk to your neighbors.
- Go to the nearest animal shelter and volunteer to help play with the animals.
- Find a service organization to support. Check out www.volunteermatch.org, www.networkforgood.org for ideas on potential projects and organizations.
- If you have a cuddly or interesting pet that brings smiles to people’s faces, call a local hospital or nursing home to see if you could bring your pet to share with patients.
- Learn about the Presidential Service Award and earn it! It can be earned by individuals, by families, or even large groups working together. www.presidentialserviceawards.gov
- Put together a care package for a missionary, someone in the military service, or someone who is away from home at school.
- Call the Relief Society Compassionate Service Leader in your Ward or Branch and ask how you could help.
- Volunteer to take home the nursery toys to clean or repair.
- Find out where the nearest Church’s Visitors Centers or monuments are to your house. Plan a trip to go see them.
- Keep a notebook of your prayers and how they were answered.
- Display your favorite scripture in your home by using your own artwork, calligraphy, cross stitch or some other creative way.
- Find out what contests will be held at your nearby county fair. See if you can share and improve your talents by entering a contest there.
- Enter one of the Church’s literature or art contests. Begin working on your own masterpiece that will uplift and inspire other members. For more info, go to history.churchofjesuschrist.org