As wards and stakes throughout the Church contemplate and implement the emphasis on ways to refine Sabbath Day observance and enlarge understanding of the importance and power of the Sacrament this year, we feel it is helpful to share thoughts and resources when they arise. Responding to requests by the General Authorities in Salt Lake City, President Gordon Garside of the Edmonton Alberta North Stake presented this challenge in a general stake priesthood meeting held on May 31, 2015.
“We took the topic and training materials from the Quorum of the Twelve on strengthening Sabbath observance in the home and used that as an outline for our stake General Priesthood Meeting. We discussed 1 Nephi 14:14, which speaks of the power of God and declares that the saints, His covenant people, are armed with righteousness and His power, meaning the power of the priesthood. As priesthood holders, we hold the power to bless our families and others. When we as fathers help our families honor the Sabbath day, we will be able to have more power to bless each member of our family, bless our fellow church members and bless our community in general,” he said. He referred to Doctrine and Covenants 1:19-21, warning against relying on the arm of flesh for our Sabbath Day activities, but rather accessing the power of keeping the Sabbath Day holy so that “faith also might increase in the earth.”
“Part of my responsibility is to assist Bishops to work with their ward councils, to counsel together and find ways to:
1. Improve the Sabbath day from a church perspective, such as church meetings focusing on the sacrament, particularly the power of sacrament and its ability help us in our daily lives;
2. Identify ways to help families to better honor the Sabbath day.”
President Garside asked the Priesthood brethren, particularly the young men, to never have their electronic device on during sacrament meeting and to be an example in their home and help each member of their family do the same.”
President Garside selected several members from the congregation to express what their family does to keep the Sabbath Day holy. Bishop Greep of the Londonderry Ward expressed his gratitude for his wife. “I am away from home for the bulk of Sundays and thus, my wife is left to both, get our six children ready for church and maintain the spirit of the Sabbath. Keeping the Sabbath Day holy helps us remember that we are a peculiar people and live different standards than many others. It allows us to share our beliefs with others as we discuss our weekends and explain why we do not do certain things on Sundays. I don’t have a long list of items detailing how to do that, but we focus more on trying to cultivate the feeling that Sundays are different and special.”
President Hatch, counselor in the Stake Presidency, related the following story; “When my wife, Katherine and I had a young family, I was working extreme hours to provide for them. I often worked all through the night and rested when I could. If I had worked all night Saturday, I stayed awake through Sunday mornings so that the family and I could attend church together. As soon as I got home, I would fall asleep. Well, one of these Sunday's I fell asleep after church like usual, but when I woke up I thought that it was Monday. I decided to fix my computer hard drive. I walked out of the house, went to a store, bought a hard drive and brought it home to install in my computer. After a while, Katherine came to see what I was doing and asked where I got the new hard drive. It was then that she informed me that it was still Sunday and that I had been shopping on the Sabbath. We realized that there was nothing different in our home or in our society that indicated to me that it wasn't just any other day of the week. We determined right then to make sure that we made Sunday an obvious Sabbath day in our home, so that we and our children would always know when it was the Lord’s Day.”
Dustin Purnell, Elder’s Quorum President in the Londonderry ward, states; “Sunday can often be a busier day than a workday due to our callings. Still we've found that the change in focus of our Sabbath work—spiritual instead of secular—makes the difference for us and helps our two very young daughters recognize that Sunday is a different day. They look forward to going to Church (especially nursery), talking more about the Saviour and wearing dresses. A touchstone that we use to help decide what is appropriate for the Sabbath is the question, 'Is this worshipful?' If we feel that an activity really helps us worship the Lord and keep a reverent mindset about Him, then it's probably okay. We were pretty excited to see the parallel between that question and the April General Conference talk by Elder Russell M. Nelson's of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles about the Sabbath, where he said our actions on the Sabbath serve as 'a sign between us and God' and shows how we feel about Him. Elder Nelson asks himself 'What sign do I want to give to God?' It's encouraging to see that, even for our very young children, this is already starting to make a difference in how they think of Sundays.”
Families are the most basic unit of the Church and the ground level for teaching principles of truth and happiness. Regular and thoughtful family councils can help fathers and mothers determine with their children how the Sabbath day can be a worshipful, uniting and strengthening experience for all members of the family, making the Sabbath day a delight.