Keep the Sabbath Day HOLY or HAPPY?

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There has been a lot of talk lately about keeping the Sabbath day holy. I believe it means different things for different people. But I have noticed that we sometimes confuse keeping the Sabbath day HOLY with keeping the Sabbath day HAPPY.

Before I started really thinking about it, I thought I was keeping the Sabbath day holy. I didn’t go out shopping, didn’t go to sporting events, etc. I spent quality time with my family, relaxed and had a quiet day. But that isn’t keeping the Sabbath day holy. It is keeping the Sabbath day happy. There’s a difference there that I hadn’t fully realized until recently.

The First Presidency of the Church said: 

“The Sabbath is not just another day on which we merely rest from our work, free to spend it as our light-mindedness may suggest. It is a holy day, the Lord’s Day, to be spent as a day of worship and reverence” (“The Sabbath,” Church News, 11 July 1959, 3).

When we are faced with the decision to engage in an activity that may or may not be appropriate for the Sabbath, we might ask ourselves three questions:

Is it doing good?

Is it spiritually uplifting?

Would Jesus do it?

The Lord has told us not to trifle with sacred things. One of the most sacred things the Lord has given us is His holy day. Elder Ezra Taft Benson said: “The purpose of the Sabbath is for spiritual uplift, for a renewal of our covenants, for worship, for rest, for prayer. It is for the purpose of feeding the spirit, that we may keep ourselves unspotted from the world by obeying God’s command” (“Keeping the Sabbath Day Holy,” Ensign, May 1971, 6). Keeping the Sabbath day holy expresses our love for the Lord and shows our gratitude for His goodness. When we follow this commandment, we receive great blessings from Him.

Prepare during the week so that you can reserve Sunday for the many uplifting activities that are appropriate for the Sabbath day. Such activities include spending quiet time with your family, studying the gospel, fulfilling your Church callings and responsibilities, serving others, writing letters, writing in your journal, and doing family history work. Your behavior and dress on the Sabbath should show respect for the Lord and His holy day.

The way we conduct ourselves on Sunday shows Heavenly Father how we feel about Him. When we treat the Sabbath as a holy day, we are giving God a sign that we love and respect Him. 

As I have been reflecting the past few months on what sign my family gives to God on Sundays, to be honest I have realized that we aren’t doing so well. We don’t work, we don’t shop and we don’t play with friends, but we also don’t read scriptures, write in journals, visit the lonely, think and appreciate what our Savior has done for us and things like that.

I want to keep the Sabbath day holy as we have been commanded. Spending quality time with my family is part of it, but I’m going to try to do more holy things like reading scriptures, writing in journals, watching Mormon messages etc. We’ve been commanded so it’s not an option. 

Here are some ideas I have for my families Sunday activities:

  • Talk about spiritual things with my family; What has God helped us with throughout the week? What prayers were answered? What can we do next week to keep the spirit with us?
  • Do family history.
  • Play board games while listening to the Mo Tab on Pandora.
  • Read scriptures.
  • NAP!
  • Make cinnamon rolls together for someone who may be lonely or sad.
  • Watch an uplifting movie or Mormon Messages.
  • Read uplifting books.
  • Ride the horse and think about how much we have been blessed with. (If you’ve never taken a casual stroll on a horse on a quiet Sunday in the country, I would definitely recommend it. It is so peaceful and you can just feel all the goodness around  you.)
  • Write letters or color pictures for grandparents. 
  • Go on a family walk.
  • Scouts.
  • Have Family Night.

Of course everyone will have a different list. Spirituality is a personalized thing. But you just have to do what works for you, keeping in mind what will bring your family closer together and closer to Heavenly Father.

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