Tag Archives: Sabbath Day

Keeping the Sabbath Day Holy…or How We Actually Accomplish More by Taking a Day Off

By Guest Blogger Jenn Felkner

After creating the world, God himself took a day off to rest, then sanctified that day, or made it holy (Genesis 2:2–3). He later commanded us that we should do the same thing (Exodus 20: 8–11). As Latter-day Saints, we generally don’t work, play sports, go to movies, shop, or go out to eat on Sunday, and this often begs the question, “So what do you do on Sundays?” Every member chooses the way that they honor the Sabbath, but here are three things that I do on Sundays that help me be more productive throughout the rest of the week.

1. Rest
Because Sundays are dedicated to God and family, Latter-day Saints generally avoid working on Sundays if possible (although we understand the necessity of doctors, police, firemen, etc working on Sundays). We also try to avoid activities that would require someone else to work on Sunday. If I go shopping on Sundays, it means the store employees don’t have the opportunity to take a day of rest.

During the past year, I was in an intensive graduate program that required many study hours. I decided early in the year to avoid studying on Sundays as much as possible. I realized that when I didn’t study on Sunday, I felt more refreshed on Monday morning and was much more productive that week. I also find it helpful to take some time on Sunday to look at what I have planned for the week to come, set goals for the week, and schedule in everything I need to do.

2. Go to church
Going to church every week allows me to recharge myself spiritually. It helps me get above my day-to-day stresses and refocus on the big picture, which is trying to be more like Christ so that I can follow the plan God has for me. Understanding that plan helps me to deal with daily choices and problems.

3. Spend time with friends and family
Sundays are perfect for spending time with friends and family. Although I don’t have any family nearby, I usually chat on the phone with my grandma, or Skype with my parents and siblings in Texas. Sunday dinner was always a big deal at our house growing up, a tradition that I often carry on with friends or roommates. In my hectic life, it’s nice to have quality time to build relationships with those I care about.

Christ taught, “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath,” (Mark 2:27). Observing the Sabbath is not a list of restrictions, but rather a blessing, as it gives me an opportunity to rest, increase my spirituality, and build relationships.

So… You’re pretty religious(?)

By Britta Hanson

It’s more a statement of fact than a question.  If I had a dollar for every time I heard this particular statement, well, I could at least buy myself a really nice dinner.  However, I never tire of the opportunity these moments afford me to pause and reflect on the life I have chosen as a disciple of Christ and as a Mormon.

As a grad student, time is an especially precious resource.  Given my tight schedule, the amount of time I dedicate each week to “religious” activities may appear to be borderline insane.  Allow me to illustrate:  In addition to weekly Sunday worship services, which last three hours, I generally attend at least one meeting per week for my church assignment.  Sometimes this assignment requires more time during the week, ranging from a few minutes to a few hours.  There are also activities every Monday evening and the occasional additional activity during the week.  Every Wednesday night there are classes which teach the scriptures, and I try to set aside time each day to study the Word of God.  It is also my privilege and responsibility to visit two of the women in my congregation each month to see to their spiritual and emotional needs.  Upon hearing this, most people, myself included, ask an important question: Why?

Each week is a complex balancing act between the religious, the social, and the scholarly.  At times, I feel the pieces of my life are spinning out of control and falling down around me.  Usually when I am brought to the brink of disaster, I realize that I have been neglecting some aspect of my “religious” life.  Maybe it’s been a day or two since I opened the scriptures.  Perhaps I haven’t been fulfilling my church assignment as fully as I could.  In these moments of clarity, the why is always answered.

While some draw a line between spirituality and religiosity, I have found in my life there is a cyclical relationship between the two.  As I attend to the various “religious” activities each week, they serve to constantly remind me of the things which matter most: Christ, my relationship with Him, and the people He has put in my life.  Being vitally involved in my church feeds my soul, it provides a quiet strength in me as I go about my various activities.  As I am consistently reminded of Christ and His love, my faith becomes the anchor of my life.  The dozens of moving parts I scramble for each week begin to revolve around Him, and there is order.

The ultimate answer to the why is that by striving to do all of these things, I find an assurance and a joy in my life that I have not found by doing anything else.  So yeah… I am pretty religious.

Easter’s Celebration

Easter is around the corner and my wife and I discussed what traditions we might start as a new family.  As a kid we decorated Easter eggs and hunted for candy baskets.  My mother also prepared a special dinner.  We regularly attended church on Sundays and Easter meetings, though not much different from other Sunday services, often focused on the Resurrection of the Savior, a doctrine that Mormons affirm to be of prime importance.  This Easter the Church leadership has commissioned a special Easter video focusing on the death and resurrection of the Savior.  The video is well done and depicts events as recorded in the New Testament of the Bible.  Easter is a great reminder of the reason of the hope that is in us.

My wife and I will probably still do Easter baskets this year because we like chocolate, but the real celebration will be the quiet reflection on the gift of God, even his son Jesus Christ. I’m grateful for the knowledge of God’s eternal plan for the world because it provides an anchor for me and gives me courage and hope that impacts my life in so many ways.

Different Congregations

This past week we started attending a new congregation because we moved across town. Our congregations are set up a little differently than other Christian sects. Congregations are based purely on geographical area. You attend the congregation whose boarders you live within. This is significant for a few reasons.

First, a congregation is not a source of income for anyone, including the head clergyman, the bishop. There is really no monetary incentive or need for a clergyman to try and get as many congregation members as possible.  No one is trying to sell you on a certain congregation.

Second, the same thing is taught in each congregation of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints worldwide. Members don’t visit different congregations and then decide which clergyman or congregation best fits their ideas because the Church is organized in such a way that all the same doctrines and principles are taught across the board. Each congregation does have its own flavor, customs, traditions, etc though as is natural for different cultures and areas. I’ve attended congregations in Jordan, Mexico, Guatemala, Virginia, Utah, Massachusetts, New York, California, South Carolina, North Carolina, Hawaii, Florida, and Arizona. Each congregation has definitely had its own style and culture  but what has been taught  is always the same, the restored Gospel of Jesus Christ.

To be honest, I was sad to leave my old congregation because of the friends I had made there and the people I had worked with. It can be a hard transition.  But, everywhere we go we are needed. Each congregation has needs and roles that need to be filled and those needs and roles are dependent on the congregation members.  I’m excited to get involved and contribute and I’m excited to make new friends and to get to work with new people.

Attending Church

A few weeks ago, Hurricane Irene whipped up the East Coast and threatened to hit Boston–and hard. Our governor encouraged everyone to stay indoors, so my weekly church services were canceled. I welcomed the rare chance to sleep in as my meetings start at 9:00, but as the day wore on, I realized how much I missed going to church that particular Sunday.

I rarely miss church. The reason why: The Holy Ghost confirms to me that Jesus Christ lives and that truth has been restored through the prophet Joseph Smith. This is why I go. Here are some more thoughts on going to church:

Every Sabbath day, Mormons around the world attend church. Church meetings are normally held on Sundays; however, this varies depending on location–when I lived in Cairo, we met on Friday, the Islamic sabbath day. Church consists of a three-hours block, one of which being sacrament meeting. Taking the sacrament is the main reason for going to church.

Church attendance also strengthens and edifies me. It gives me time to ponder on my actions during the previous week. It also gives me the motivation and encouragement to be a better person, a better friend, sister, aunt, roommate, Christian, etc. While I get a lot of inspiration from lessons, talks, and being around fellow members, it is the Spirit that truly whispers truths to me.

I encourage those of all faiths to take time out of your busy weeks to attend  your worship meetings. There are so many little hidden tidbits in scripture stories that will come alive. You will come away wanting to serve your fellow man more and yourself a little less.

Sabbath Day

In the Mormon religion, the Sabbath Day is a day that is set apart from the rest of the week. We believe God set apart a day, in which man should rest from their work and labor. That day is Sunday. On this day, members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day-Saints have certain responsibilities, and commandments to follow. When these are followed, great blessings follow.

The main purpose of the Sabbath is to come closer to God. On Sunday, the main activity is going to church. Going to church is a great blessing. In my experience, going to church makes me happy and I feel closer to God. After going to church, there isn’t anything planned throughout the day. On the Sabbath day, we do nothing that would take us farther from God, or that would demand high amounts of work. We strive to obtain rest on this day. Some activities that are commonly done are: Church service, quality time with your family, searching the scriptures, praying and more.

To receive the full blessings that come from keeping the Sabbath day holy, we have to live it fully. For example, in most cases men and woman will take off work. There are various exceptions, such as: Doctors, Fireman, Policeman, and any other profession that works with absolute emergencies. Because it doesn’t obtain rest, or help you come closer to God, it isn’t an ideal activity to do. Families are discouraged from participation in sporting activities, or any extra curricular activities. It may seem sometimes that there are many restrictions, but when obeyed honestly and fully, the blessings completely outweigh the sacrifice.

The blessings that come from completely following the Sabbath are absolutely amazing. As a teenager attending high school, it is very hard to enjoy the Sabbath with such a large homework load to finish so many other activities to do. When I finish my homework on Saturday, my Sabbaths were amazing. I felt completely laid back. I become immune from all the stress my high school put on me. I enjoyed the day, and am able to spend more time with my family. If I don’t get my homework done on Saturday, I experience something very different. I race to get everything done because of my sometimes procrastination. This last minute homework on Sunday causes me to arrive at school completely exhausted. Alternatively, when I keep the Sabbath, I come to school on Monday, on time, awake and fresh for school. The difference is between night and day.

Looking back on my school year, my best weeks were the ones where I kept the Sabbath day holy. Because of the blessings that come through obeying the commandment “Keep the Sabbath Day Holy”, I forgot the small sacrifice I made. In summary: the Sabbath is an opportunity to receive blessings. Don’t let it slip away.