09 September 2013

On Sabbath Observance

A friend recently asked a question about Sabbath observance on facebook. I wanted to keep a record of my response, as I'm pretty pleased with what I learned as I wrote it. :o)

We've been reevaluating how we spend our Sabbaths, because they weren't doing our family any good. Spending time together is important, but it felt like Sundays should be more than just hanging out in our living room. It was beginning to feel like our Sundays weren't much different from the Puritan Sabbaths you read about from over a hundred years ago, where they all sat in their living room, dressed in their Sunday best, and could do nothing but read scripture or ponder or pray silently, from sun-up to sun-down. We weren't tying our children to kitchen chairs ;o), but we felt so isolated--and we knew that was doing no good for the Kingdom of God. We were put here to have relationships with each other, and with God. I've long felt a lot of pressure to feel like the company of my husband and children should be all I need . . . but really, our life as a family is SO much better when we reach out to others, and spend time with them. (Spending time as a family doesn't mean your family needs to be alone, either.) Yes, visiting the sick or elderly is part of that, but so is just spending time with other families or people we know. Wherever we go, whatever we do, the Light of Christ should shine from us, illuminating the world. We don't have to be preaching or reading scripture or cloistering ourselves in our homes to keep our modern Sabbath holy. The Sabbath is something we live, something we create in our hearts, that floods the world around us and bathes it in our Savior's love. In Christ's time, Saturdays were the Sabbath--the day of rest. Sundays were the day the believers gathered to celebrate the Victory of Christ over sin and death. It was a day to have a big'ol Resurrection Party. Building relationships is what Christ is about. (Hello, Eternal Families!) But it's not just about that kind of family. It's about loving and being kind to everyone around us--the family of God. Our modern communities are so fractured and brittle . . . and I say if you help repair that through your daughter's friendships at a birthday party, then go for it. My question, if I were in your situation, would be: How am I approaching this party? Am I going to distract myself from the fact that I'm not living every minute bathed in the love and light of Jesus Christ? Or will I shine His love into the hearts and lives of those I'll be with? I'm not saying that every Sunday should be spent at parties, or that we should never have family time. Each family is different . . . there are some Sundays, when our family has felt besieged and battered, that Vern and I gather the children around us and we all soak up one another's comforting company. Sometimes we're blessed with an unexpected visit from a friend or ward member that loves us a whole lot--those visits are especial treasures, because someone listened to the Holy Ghost and came when we were in need. But there are plenty of other days when we have an abundance of Christ's love to share, and I feel like always staying home puts that light under a bushel. (I'm wracking my brain, trying to remember where in the scriptures it says that Sundays are a family day . . . I've read it in a ton of secular books & magazines, but can't remember if/where it's in the word of God . . . ) But really, it's not about birthday parties on a certain day of the week. That's the spirit of the old law, the law of performances and ordinances that Christ fulfilled with His victory. It's about the state of our hearts, and whether or not we're living the will of our Lord. "Master, which is the great commandment in the law?" Jesus said unto him, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets." (Matt 22:36-40 KJV) If there are traditions or practices in our lives that don't support and help us fulfill those two commandments, then those traditions need close and prayerful examination to determine if they're really doing what Jesus Himself told us to do. Bottom line: if Christ is enthroned in your heart, you can listen to what it says, and know that He'll be pleased with your choice.

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I welcome questions and concerns--they are most often what spur us closer to the truth. I only ask that we all give everyone the most generous benefit of the doubt, assigning the best motives possible. A soft answer truly does turn away wrath, and an atmosphere of Jesus's love is the best for learning, no matter which side of a discussion you're on.

Thanks so much, and God bless you!