Sunday, April 21, 2013

Doctrine and Covenants Lesson #16 "Thou Shalt Offer Up Thy Sacraments Upon My Holy Day"

This lesson may be well-managed as a class discussion.  You may want to put a few of the excellent quotes from the prophets that are in the manual on a handout (and also maybe the one below), followed by the questions, and set one on each chair in the room.  Have pencils available for those who may need them.  Leave a space on the handout after each question for the class members to write in their own ideas or those that they hear.  Have everyone silently fill out their pages for about 5 minutes, then share ideas by randomly asking one of the questions on the page.  (You could cut up one page and put the questions in a container and have a class member pull one out and read it aloud, then let class members respond.)

"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, 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?)
Please add your ideas on how you have improved your Sabbath observance in the comments below.  


Angie Allen said...

Thanks for your excellent ideas and insight. I am called as one of two Gospel Doctrine teachers in my ward and am blessed to have a vocal, generous group that shares freely. The class discussion you've suggested will go very well, I think. I'm reminded of an incident my daughter experienced in high school. A less active young man was moving their friendship (through band)to the dating level and invited her to a movie...on Sunday afternoon. She asked me what she should do. Our family attends movies often, but never on Sunday. At 17, I felt she was old enough to make this decision herself; I said, "that's up to you." She replied, "I hate when you do that!" :) I offered to have him come over instead; maybe there was a film in our video collection they would enjoy. He came but they ended up in the kitchen baking cookies. Thus began what has become known as the Sunday Afternoon Cooking Club. They got some excellent "getting to know you" time and the rest of the family got great treats! They were married in the Logan Temple in 2002.

Lynn said...

Thank you so much for your lessons. This one reminded me with a flood of memories that I wrote about in my journal.

1. Talk by Elder Perry

2. His talk Sure got ME thinking.
It totally FRUSTRATES me that the world has changed SO much that it does NOT matter that you believe in keeping the Sabbath Day Holy. If you want a job, they tell you you HAVE to work on a few Sundays here and there in order to KEEP your job, or you are OUT the door. There is no recourse for this in many places. With my husband going back into the work force (thank goodness for the job after his lay off) he's had to face this dilemma. And so has some of our children. It's NOT fair! Religious freedom, should be just that. But it's not. Not always the way we would like it. BUT....having said that.....there ARE ways to STILL do whatever we can to keep the Sabbath Day HOLY in our thoughts and actions when we ARE forced to work on the occasional Sunday. Number one....we can make sure to make it clear to our employers that Sundays ARE our Sabbath Day and we do whatever we can to make it Holy. Don't act casual about it. We can certainly do what we can to come to a compromise about how many Sundays we will be working. Otherwise our Employers will think that if WE don't care...neither do they. They will require you to work a LOT of Sundays rather than only one or two a month. And in some cases, our employers will respect our beliefs and never ask you to work on a Sunday. That was the case with both our boys. They were so blessed. And they felt so good about sharing this commitment to the Lord with their employers, who respected them for it.
However sometimes it is required of us to work Sundays because of just the nature of our work. I will take my grandfather and my mother for example. Grandpa was an operator and owner of a large dairy farm. There is no way of getting around milking AND feeding those poor cows on Sundays. However, I never, in my life, witnessed my grandfather scrubbing down the walls of the milking barn, or hauling a load of hay to the cows on Sunday either. Those types of chores he was SURE to have completed before the Sabbath day. Only the most necessary of chores were done on Sunday.

Lynn said...

3. Now about my mom.... She was a nurse (and a good one) for 45 years. The sick, the aged, and the weak, NEED someone to take care of them on Sundays. So of course, there are those who must work in those cases. There is no day off from taking care of the sick. I have firefighter friends, as well...... Police officers in our family and circle of friends. They HAVE to work in those cases. There is always the law or an emergency to take care of.....even on a Sunday. But.....from my mother I take her example. She was NEVER casual about her Sundays. She respected the Lord's day and treated it as such. She made sure she did whatever she could to keep it unspotted and "different" from any other day of the week. She made sure ALL her chores and things needing to be done at home were DONE BEFORE the Sabbath. The washing machine and dryer never ran on a Sunday, even though it's a machine "doing the work". Those kinds of chores were never done on a Sunday. Never. She dressed in her "skirt" uniform on Sunday instead of her "pants" uniform. The music she listened to on the way there was for the Sabbath. The books she read on her break (the Ensign for example) was for the Sabbath. When conference was on or a fireside, she went to those things dressed in her uniform ready to leave for her job when she had to, or else go STRAIGHT there (even late) when she got off her shift. Even if she had been on the graveyard shift Saturday night, she went straight to church Sunday morning on her way home. Even when tired. She did not try to easily find excuses to "skip out". She would call home and keep tabs on us and make SURE we would be there on time as well. Etc. Etc. And Sunday dinner was always mostly already ready in the slow cooker from the night before or whatever. She never took the Sabbath day lightly.