Lesson 16 D&C 59
How do you feel when you enter the temple? Read D&C 109:13. What makes it different from other places? In Genesis 2:1-3, the Lord instituted the Sabbath. What makes it different from other days? This lesson will help us remember what a privilege it is to have the Sabbath day.
The Lord himself established the pattern for the Sabbath during the Creation when He labored six days and rested on the seventh. Since the earliest times, He has commanded His people to observe the Sabbath and keep it holy.
In Exodus 20:8-11 and 31:13-17, the Lord gave the commandment repeated many times throughout the scriptures. Again in this dispensation, the Lord, through the Prophet Joseph Smith, has reemphasized the need for faithful saints to attend Church meetings, partake of the sacrament, and rest from their worldly labors. D&C 59:9-13.
D&C 59:9 requires “Thou shalt go to the house of prayer…upon my holy day”. Attending Church meetings is both an obligation and a privilege. President Gordon B. Hinckley said: “…every sacrament meeting ought to be a spiritual feast” and a time of spiritual refreshment”. (Teachings of Gordon B. Hinckley, 563, 564) Making our attendance spiritually enriching requires coming with an attitude of worship, being punctual, showing reverence, studying lesson material in advance and being prepared to actively participate in discussion, by listening carefully, seeking to strengthen others, and not criticizing speakers or teachers (especially Gospel Doctrine Sunday School teachers).
President Spencer W. Kimball said: “We do not go to Sabbath meetings to be entertained or even solely to be instructed, We go to worship the Lord. It is an individual responsibility, and regardless of what is said from the pulpit, if one wishes to worship the Lord in spirit and truth, he may do so by attending his meetings, partaking of the sacrament, and contemplating the beauties of the gospel. If the service is a failure to you, you have failed. No one can worship for you.” (Ensign, Jan 1978, 4-5)
Elder Boyd K. Packer has expressed concern that “an increasing number of our leaders and members do not sing the congregational songs.” He then counseled, “We should sing the songs of Zion—they are an essential part of our worship.” (Ensign, Nov 1991, 22) Sacred music adds a great spiritual influence to our meetings.
Elder Boyd K. Packer said that we should be reverent in the chapel so that we do not intrude “when someone is struggling to feel delicate spiritual communications.” He also cautioned that “reverence does not equate with absolute silence. We must be tolerant of little babies, even the occasional outburst from a toddler being ushered out.” (Ensign, Nov 1991, 22)
Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin said: “Windows must be washed regularly to clean away dust and dirt…Just as earthly windows need consistent, thorough cleaning, so do the windows of our spirituality…By partaking of the sacrament worthily to renew our baptismal covenants, we clarify our view of life’s eternal purpose and divine priorities. The sacrament prayers invite personal introspection, repentance, and rededication as we pledge our willingness to remember our Savior, Jesus the Christ” (Ensign, Nov. 1995, 77)
D&C 59:10 revealed that we should “rest from [our] labors”. Resting from our labors shows that we place the Lord first, above other concerns and desires on that day.
Resting from labors includes avoiding such activities as buying and selling, attending amusements and sporting events, and other such worldly diversions that draw our attention away from the intended purposes of the Lord’s day. In addition, we should avoid mental and emotional “labors” which sap our energy and drain our spirits. There is time enough on other days to worry and bear a load of heavy cares. The Sabbath should be a day of renewal on all fronts.
Presiding Bishop H. David Burton said: “Now I know it’s hard, particularly for our young people, to choose to observe the Sabbath day when athletic teams on which they want so much to participate regularly schedule games on Sunday. I too know it seems trivial to many who are in need of just a few items on the Sabbath to quickly stop at a convenience store to make a Sunday purchase. But I also know that remembering to keep the Sabbath day holy is one of the most important commandments we can observe in preparing us to be recipients of the whisperings of the Spirit.” (Ensign, Nov 1998, 9)
While resting from our labors is appropriate, that in no way means that we should be idle. Instead, we should follow that Savior’s example and do well on the Sabbath. President Spencer W. Kimball taught “The Sabbath is a holy day in which to do worthy and holy things. Abstinence from work and recreation is important, but insufficient. The Sabbath calls for constructive thoughts and acts, and if one merely lounges about doing nothing on the Sabbath, he is breaking it. To observe it, one must be on his knees in prayer, preparing lessons, studying the gospel, meditating, visiting the ill and distressed, writing letters to missionaries, taking a nap, reading wholesome material, and attending all the meetings of that day at which he is expected.” (Ensign, Jan. 1978, 4)
To decide what is appropriate for Sunday activities, consider the following criteria:
§ Does the activity honor God? Is it spiritually uplifting? Does it nurture faith? Does it strengthen the family? Does it help or bless others? Is it different (and better) than the daily activities in which we engage?
Family-centered activities can strengthen the family on the Sabbath. President Gordon B. Hinckley said: “Let the Latter-day Saints be in their homes, teaching their families, reading their scriptures, doing things that are wholesome and beautiful and communing with the Lord on the Sabbath day” (Ensign, July 1996, 73). President Hinckley further counseled: “Now I do not want to be prudish. I do not want you to lock your children in the house and read the Bible all afternoon to them. Be wise. Be careful. But make that day a day when you can sit down with your families and talk about sacred and good things” (Teachings of Gordon B. Hinckley, 559-560).
The First Presidency gave counsel on the Sabbath when the 3-hour block meeting schedule was announced in 1980. “A greater responsibility will be placed on the individual members and families for properly observing the Sabbath day. More time will be available for personal study of the scriptures and family-centered gospel study…. It is expected that this new schedule of meetings and activities will result in greater spiritual growth for members of the Church.” (Church News, 2 Feb. 1980, 3)
Although there are times when employers require Sunday work, Latter-day Saints should make conscious decisions to select careers that do not require constant Sunday work. As we counsel with employers, we should request that our desires to keep the Sabbath holy are considered in work scheduling. We should also assure that if we are able to attend meetings and partake of the sacrament in a different ward before or after our Sunday work hours, we take that opportunity so that there is as little negative effect on us as possible. If it is not possible to attend Church meetings, then we should at least devote our free Sunday time to study of the scriptures and appropriate Sabbath activities for ourselves or with our family.
Strengthen your desire to keep the Sabbath day holy. It will bless your life in many ways.
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