"Our observance or non-observance of the Sabbath is an unerring measure of our attitude toward the Lord personally and toward his suffering in Gethsemane, his death on the cross, and his resurrection from the dead. It is a sign of whether we are Christians in very deed, or whether our conversion is so shallow that commemoration of his atoning sacrifice means little or nothing to us." (Elder Mark E. Petersen, quoted in Arnold K. Garr, et. al, Encyclopedia of Latter-day Saint History, p. 1049)
The Sabbath day is our opportunity to "feel the prints of the nails" in the Savior's hands, as we draw closer to him and as we emulate his love and service.
How have you been blessed in the past by Sabbath observance?
What are some challenges to making the Sabbath day as worshipful as you would like?
What can my family do to prepare ourselves for Sunday meetings?
How can I help my children to enjoy and benefit more from the Sabbath?
How can I make partaking of the sacrament a greater blessing in my life?
How can we determine what is appropriate for us to do on the Sabbath?
What activities seem to take away from the spirit of the Sabbath for you?
If I have to work on Sunday, how can I make my service an experience that brings me closer to Christ?
What is ONE specific way I can make the Sabbath more meaningful for me and/or my family NEXT week?
Here are some of my ideas that you can use as supplements or discussion fillers if necessary:
- For toddlers: Get an inexpensive purse-sized photo album. Fill the photo sleeves with pictures you print off the Gospel Art pages at LDS.org, or pictures you cut out of old church magazines. This is their special book they ONLY get to look at during the passing of the sacrament. If you have a smart phone, you can download the Gospel Art Kit onto your phone and view the pictures with your child on your lap.
- For youth: Give them a little notebook and challenge them to write the topic of each talk in sacrament meeting, Sunday School, youth or Primary lessons so that they can remember them to share with the family at dinner after church. Do it yourself and you'll be surprised how much more focused you are during the meeting.
- At home: Simply having a list of things NOT to do on the Sabbath leads to bored and irritable kids. We have chores on other days of the week, so on the Sabbath our kids have "Sunday jobs" they must complete before seeking wholesome entertainment. These include 1) keeping their room tidy by making their beds and putting away their pajamas in the morning and their Sunday clothes after church, 2) reading an article or two in The Friend, New Era or Ensign, 3) working on their Faith in God, Personal Progress or Duty to God goals, 4) studying the scriptures, and 5) preparing their part for Monday's Family Home Evening. Later in the day they are expected to contribute to the dinner preparation or clean up. Of course, as parents, we follow the same list.
- Entertainment: We encourage our kids to spend time together on the Sabbath; if they are going to play a game, it should be with another family member, not a single-player game. Same goes for videos. There are also lots of wonderful church videos available online or through Distribution, and there are even some great commercial ones on Netflix (for those of you in the U.S.). Here are some of my favorites: "Emma Smith: My Story," "American Prophet: The Story of Joseph Smith," "The Best Two Years," "God's Army," and "The Other Side of Heaven."
- Fresh Air: Don't forget that kids go a little nuts if they can't move their bodies. Going out for a little dog walk, neighbor visit, or just some swinging in the back yard can restore equilibrium. The same goes for you! One of my favorite Sabbath activities is reading on the front porch.
- Most of all, use the Sabbath to shower love on your family! You want them to remember Sunday as a different but special day--not a holiday, but a day of extra love. Spend a little one-on-one time, take effort to comment on their positive behaviors, give a few more hugs, make eye contact when they are talking, smile a lot. Make sitting beside you in church a positive experience. Don't worry about things that don't matter (for me today that was my deacon son's hair that was sticking up while he passed the sacrament--too late to do anything about it anyway). Phone family members who live away from you. Visit grandparents.
- Of course, remember that everything goes better if you are all prepared and packed Saturday night. Actually schedule a certain time on Saturday night for this.
- Here is something new I am going to try: Start a prayer journal. Make a list in your journal of prayers that have been answered for your family (or just for you) recently or over many years. Add a list of people or circumstances you are still praying for and refer to it before you offer family or personal prayer. (This would be especially helpful for my kids who "can't remember" anything to say in family prayer except "please bless the food" even when we're not eating!) Make it a habit to thank the Lord for a blessing LONGER than you prayed FOR the blessing. (For example: I recently prayed for several months for my friend's daughter's unborn baby. Now that he is born small but safe, do I just check that one off my list, or will I remember to thank the Lord for him for months to come?)