The difference between Sunday and the Sabbath may seem subtle. But understanding the variance will change everything.
Sunday is the day of the week named after the pagan worship of the sun. It is a time for ourselves. We feel we have to cram in all the fun with what’s left of the weekend. After all, Monday’s around the corner and then back to work we go.
On the other hand, the Sabbath is a holy day. A day of worship. A day of rest. Society and culture have even attempted to cloud our minds and make us forget that it’s one of the original 10 commandments. It’s absolutely necessary for our worship to understand the difference and act on that knowledge.
1. Wake up early
I have noticed that every time I sleep in or rush myself in the morning it becomes difficult to feel the Holy Spirit in church meetings, most especially to focus my mind on the Savior during the sacrament. Out of any 15 minutes in the week this is the time that our minds should be cleared of worldly concerns and scattered thoughts. Simple advice we all ought to take is to wake up early on Sundays. This means going to bed at a reasonable time on Saturday night. Time management is the first step into turning Sunday into the Sabbath.
2. Do reading preparation for the lessons.
Whether you’re studying King Solomon in Sunday school, the Holy Spirit in Priesthood or Temple blessings in Relief Society, reading the prep scriptures will positively affect you and those in the lesson. If you read in advance you will most likely feel prepared and excited to share your thoughts rather than feeling as if it’s another lesson that needs to be endured.
“Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: But the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work…” -Exodus 20: 8-10
The Sabbath is a day of rest, not a day for work (if possible) or play. I’m inspired by the following story:
When he was 16 years old, Brother Christensen decided, among other things, that he would not play sports on Sunday. Years later, when he attended Oxford University in England, he played center on the basketball team. That year they had an undefeated season and went through to the British equivalent of what in the United States would be the NCAA basketball tournament.
They won their games fairly easily in the tournament, making it to the final four. It was then that Brother Christensen looked at the schedule and, to his absolute horror, saw that the final basketball game was scheduled to be played on a Sunday. He and the team had worked so hard to get where they were, and he was the starting center. He went to his coach with his dilemma. His coach was unsympathetic and told Brother Christensen he expected him to play in the game.
Prior to the final game, however, there was a semifinal game. Unfortunately, the backup center dislocated his shoulder, which increased the pressure on Brother Christensen to play in the final game. He went to his hotel room. He knelt down. He asked his Heavenly Father if it would be all right, just this once, if he played that game on Sunday. He said that before he had finished praying, he received the answer: “Clayton, what are you even asking me for? You know the answer.”
He went to his coach, telling him how sorry he was that he wouldn’t be playing in the final game. Then he went to the Sunday meetings in the local ward while his team played without him. He prayed mightily for their success. They did win.
That fateful, difficult decision was made more than 30 years ago. Brother Christensen has said that as time has passed, he considers it one of the most important decisions he ever made. It would have been very easy to have said, “You know, in general, keeping the Sabbath day holy is the right commandment, but in my particular extenuating circumstance, it’s okay, just this once, if I don’t do it.” However, he says his entire life has turned out to be an unending stream of extenuating circumstances, and had he crossed the line just that once, then the next time something came up that was so demanding and critical, it would have been so much easier to cross the line again. The lesson he learned is that it is easier to keep the commandments 100 percent of the time than it is 98 percent of the time.
4. Missionary Work
Missionary work comes in all varieties. Whether we visit the sick in the hospital or visit homes (home or visiting teaching) we are doing missionary work. We can also do missionary work by magnifying our callings, getting to know our neighbors and by posting influential content on social media. We often don’t realize the impact on simply visiting a friend, giving our families a call on the phone, or taking the time to reach out to a lost sheep.
5. Feast upon the word
Studying the holy scriptures is a sacred time for us to get to know Jesus Christ . Becoming more knowledgeable about the commandments and revelations of the prophets is a part of Sabbath worship, and has been since the days of the early Jews. Careful studying of His word may even lead to the fulfillment of an unanswered prayer .
“Feast upon the words of Christ; for behold, the words of Christ will tell you all things what ye should do.”
6. Listen to appropriate music
Music calms the soul and provides an environment that welcomes the Spirit. I’m not the one to tell you what you should and shouldn’t listen to. You will know by the way it makes you feel and the thoughts that enter your mind as you listen to it. I find church hymns to be my choice of Sabbath music.
“For my soul delighteth in the song of the heart; yea, the song of the righteous is a prayer unto me, and it shall be answered with a blessing upon their heads.”
7. Have Gospel Discussions with Family
A great way to strengthen relationships with family is to discuss things of a spiritual nature. Discuss what you learned at church. Ask questions about topics that are confusing. Review teachings of the Gospel. Learn from the scriptures together. I found that when my wife and I have gospel conversations, share stories and learn from each other, we bond as a married couple more than at any other time during our week.
8. Do good
The ancient Jews were given strict commandments of what they could and could not do on the Sabbath. Jesus came to fulfil the old law as He taught:
“What man shall there be among you, that shall have one sheep, and if it fall into a pit on the sabbath day, will he not lay hold on it, and lift it out? How much then is a man better than a sheep? Wherefore it is lawful to do well on the sabbath days.” -Matt 12: 11-12
A simple rule of thumb for Sabbath day observance is to ask yourself “Am I doing good?” “Am I helping someone?”
The choices you embrace determine your day. Will you opt for a Sunday or choose the Sabbath?