|Kiana with Costa Rican flag - photos by Kathryn Beutler|
The Bible dictionary says that “The Sabbath is an eternal principle.” A day of rest was set apart from the beginning of this world. During the creation, Heavenly Father rested on the seventh day, and sanctified it to be a day to rest from our labors. Later, the Sabbath was used as a reminder of the Jew’s deliverance from Egypt, and then even later, as a reminder of the Savior’s Resurrection. Today, we keep all these events as kind of symbolically a part of our Sabbath day observance--we rest from our daily temporal labors just like there was a day of rest after the creation, we take the Sacrament to renew our baptismal covenants, which deliver us from sin just as the Jews were delivered from the hands of the Egyptians, and remember the Savior through partaking the Sacrament on the Sabbath, as Christ’s disciples did after the Last Supper. These are holy, sacred things, and part of what makes the day is so holy is by treating it differently than any other day, and making a conscious decision to act in a way that makes its sacred.
When I moved away from home this year, I had to make a decision--how I would treat the Sabbath. Growing up, I’d sung “Saturday is a special day, it’s the day we get ready for Sunday.” My family had set a tradition of keeping Sunday a day different from the rest. But, this year at college, I didn’t have my family there with me, telling me what to do, singing that “we clean that house and we shop at the store” on Saturday, “so we won’t have to work until Monday”. I had to choose for myself how I would treat the Sabbath. And, I am so grateful that I had had the example of my parents my whole life, and decided to pretty much follow the standards that we had set growing up. But, I realized one thing this year living by myself, one thing that the Primary song doesn’t exactly teach-it’s not just Saturday that you need to prepare yourself for the Sabbath. It takes conscious effort every day of the week to be prepared for the Sabbath--I couldn’t just set aside all my labors until Saturday or else I would not get everything I needed to done that day, and then I’d be stressed on Sunday, and just waiting for Monday to come. But, I found this year that there were huge blessings by doing this and keeping the Sabbath day holy--I found that I had more time during the other six days of the week to get all the homework, playing, and cleaning I needed to get done, and another blessing that I especially noticed and appreciated was that was that I could feel more prepared for the sacrament.
The sacrament became so much more important to me this year while I was at school. School was stressful, friends were hard at times, living by myself was crazy. This year was the first year that I really appreciated the cleansing and healing power of the Atonement, and the strength that taking the Sacrament weekly could be. Elder Holland said of the Sacrament, “One of the invitations inherent in the sacramental ordinance is that it be a truly spiritual experience, a holy communion, a renewal for the soul.” And, I think keeping the Sabbath day a special day helped the Sacrament be more of a “renewal for the soul.” If I went home from church and kept the Spirit with me by doing activities that I generally would not do on other days, then I could ponder more on the Sacrament. This really blessed my life, and gave me the strength to do all the things I needed to do the rest of the week.
|you can see our beloved Logan Temple in distance!|
This ties into how keeping the Sabbath day holy is so so important--even essential--in our worship. There are a lot of things in this life where if we come prepared and willing to sacrifice some things, we get much more out of it. I love to run, and to race. I’m going to compare keeping the sabbath day and how this affects our worship to kind of like running a race. If you want to perform your very best in a race, it requires sacrifice before hand--hours of training so you’re prepared physically and mentally the day of the race. This is like preparing yourself during the other six days of the week for the Sabbath--scheduling your time to make sure you do all the things you need to do before Sunday to be ready for the day, so you don’t have to do activities you don’t feel comfortable doing on the Sabbath. And then, the day of the race, there are other things that could affect your performance and results of the race. If you wake up and eat of ice cream an hour before you go race, you could still go run the race, but it may not be a super effective breakfast in getting you prepared for the race, and you might not perform as well as you had hoped. It’s not that ice cream is bad at all--it’s just not something appropriate to have before you go run a race. This again ties to our Sunday worship. There are some activities that are totally fine, but if we do them on the Sabbath, it can affect how we feel when we go to Church that day, which could affect our worship, just as the ice cream for breakfast could affect how we race. IF you go to a race unprepared, and having eaten junk food for breakfast, you might even end up going into the event with the mindset that you weren’t even going to try your hardest on this race--it was just a practice run, or just a fake. The same goes with the Sabbath. If we go to church unprepared for the Sacrament, we might not go into it with the mindset of how important the Sacrament truly is for us, and how important this ordinance is. But, if we keep the whole Sabbath holy, we are more mentally prepared for this important ordinance, just as you are more mentally prepared for a race if you train for it and eat right. But, the Atonement is real, and works. Even if you do wake up on Sunday and do activities that aren’t necessarily the best for a Sunday, it does not mean that you necessarily come to Sacrament unprepared--you can still have an incredible spiritual experience, and no one should choose to not take the Sacrament just because they feel they haven’t completely been perfect in Sabbath observance. No one is perfect--that is why we need to take the Sacrament, to renew our baptismal covenants! This past year at school I had church, and sometimes it was hard to remember that it was actually Sunday til the middle of the afternoon, because church wasn’t for so long! I noticed that if I did things in the morning that weren’t necessarily bad, but didn’t super prepare me for the Sacrament or make the day truly feel like a Sunday, then it was harder for me to get to feeling the Spirit at church. I still could eventually, but I really did feel like it affected my day, and thereby the rest of the week, because I truly hadn’t had a day of rest. And, even if we have church, and have the rest of the day after church, we should still live in an attitude of worshipping God for the whole day, and keep doing activities appropriate for the day--just like if you’re at a race and done racing, you’re still at the race course and should cheer others on who are racing, and keep in the right mood for the event.
Mark reads, “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath.” This scripture was kind of puzzling to me at first, but after thinking about it, it’s actually really cool. The world uses Sunday as a day of recreation—a day to fit in the fun and chores that they did not have time for earlier in the week, a day to do what they want. This attitude is that of “man for the Sabbath.” Man is the one choosing the activities. Man is doing his own will. Man is not using Sunday the way it was designed to be. When we live with the attitude of the Sabbath being made for man, then we use it as it was intended to be: as a day of rest and worship. Then, the Sabbath is for us--it relieves us from the burdens and struggles of the week, cleanses us from the world, renews and strengthens us. But, how do we know what is okay to do to make sure that we are living in a way so the Sabbath is for us, and not us for the Sabbath? In the last General Conference, Elder Nelson gave a wonderful talk called “The Sabbath is a Delight.” In this talk he discussed how he used to look at lists that other people made, and then figure out what was okay and not okay to do on Sunday. Later on, he realized that this wasn’t exactly necessary--instead of looking at lists, he would just try to figure out what sign he was shoiwng to Heavenly Father through during certain activities. He would ask himself, “What sign do I want to give to God?” I love this idea, and it’s really helped me understand more why doing or not doing different activities on Sunday is such a personal matter for each and every one of us. If we’re unsure about an activity, we can ask ourselves, is choosing to do this activity showing God that I understand that it is His day? Is this activity helping to build the kingdom of God on earth? Is it helping me worship God better today, remember the Atonement and that sacrifice better, helping me rest from the cares of the rest of the world? Is this activity preparing me mentally for taking the Sacrament later today, or, if it’s after Sacrament meeting, helping me remember Christ and the covenants I made renewed earlier that day? It’s honestly such a personal decision, and each of us have to decide which activities denote what signs between you and the Lord.
What we decide to do and not do doesn’t just affect us personally and our worship though--it helps set a good example for others, and can honestly change the world. The Bible dictionary says, “A decay in the national religious life always follows any tendency toward carelessness in the matter of Sabbath observance.” We live in a world where religious life is decaying, and we do not want to add to that decay by becoming careless in our Sabbath observance. I’ve seen how treating the Sabbath day differently than other days can affect not us personally, but hundreds of others. I was on a jump rope team during high school, and we competed at a national competition where the “elite” competition called “Grand Nationals” at the end of the week was held on a Sunday. There were some people on my team who always qualified in a few events, and when they did, would withdraw because it was held on a Sunday, and they felt the sign this showed to God was not the one they wanted to demonstrate. Eventually, the organizers of the competition changed the day of Grand Nationals to Saturday. I know that Heavenly Father played a role in it and was blessing these kids and showing that appreciated their sacrifice. Now, younger kids on the team do not have to make the decision on whether or not they’ll jump on Sunday, which is such a huge blessing, and helps keep there from being more “carelessness in Sabbath observance” for all the kids across the nation who participate in the competition.