Sunday, July 10, 2011

The Sabbath and the Sacrament

This entry is part of my general conference application series.

The Sabbath and the Sacrament, by L. Tom Perry
Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

I'm away from my family, and I miss them terribly. While speaking with my wife on the phone early this morning, she commented that she was already dressed and ready for church (our ward doesn't start until 1pm). When I expressed surprise, she said the reason: so the children will know it's Sunday.

In our family, Sunday is a special day: it's the Sabbath. I remember talking to a friend who was in many other ways very religious why he didn't outwardly do things on Sunday to set it apart. His response surprised me. He said that the commandment to keep the Sabbath day holy was fulfilled and done away in Christ's Atonement. According to him, there was no need to do anything special on Sunday.

One may argue that having a worshipful attitude all week is better than forgetting faith Monday through Saturday and then acting pious on one day (they would be right), but there is great power in keeping the commandments.

And in case you're wondering, the Ten commandments are still commandments—even after the Atonement.

Elder Perry quoted from 1 Timothy (4:11-12) about being "an example of the believers," and then went on to say:

I can think of no better way for us to begin or continue to be an example of the believers than in our observance of the Sabbath day.

If we believe that it's important to observe the Sabbath, the next question may be, "How?"

In his address, Elder Perry spoke on the importance of the sacrament and how it is "the center of our Sabbath day observance." He also spoke of Christ "expects us to avoid such worldly distractions of businesses and recreational facilities on the Sabbath day."

Okay. Many people do this, but then he went deeper to a region that some are uncomfortable with. I'll preface the discussion on appropriate Sabbath dress with an observation: When I was a child, it seems that everyone referred to "Sunday dress" or "Sunday best" to refer to nice clothes worn to show respect (in this case, to God). It appears that now the phrase has been replaced by "church clothes," suggesting that these are only clothes one wears for a few hours at a specific location, not all Sabbath long.

Here's what Elder Perry said about dress (remember, also, what my wife said this morning about dress reminding the children about the Sabbath):

He also desires us to dress appropriately. Our youth may think the old saying “Sunday best” is outdated. Still, we know that when Sunday dress deteriorates to everyday attire, attitudes and actions follow. Of course, it may not be necessary for our children to wear formal Sunday attire until the sun goes down. However, by the clothing we encourage them to wear and the activities we plan, we help them prepare for the sacrament and enjoy its blessings throughout the day.

You may argue that there are more important things to focus on than how we (and our children) dress. You're right. However, if this is a big issue for you, ask yourself why it's a big issue for you. Are Sunday clothes (note: I didn't say "church clothes") too uncomfortable for lounging about the house watching sports? Too nice for running around in the yard? Too much for trips to the mall?

I think you see the point: you don't want to wear Sunday clothes when you're doing non-Sunday things.

Important note: just as the Pharisees remind us that there is more to just keeping the "rules" for the rules' sake, there is more to dressing appropriately on the Sabbath, particularly from a parenting perspective:

Parents, now is the time to teach our children to be examples of the believers by attending sacrament meeting. When Sunday morning arrives, help them to be well rested, properly dressed, and spiritually prepared to partake of the emblems of the sacrament and receive the enlightening, edifying, ennobling power of the Holy Ghost. Let your family be filled with love as you honor the Sabbath all day long and experience its spiritual blessings throughout the week.

I love the reminder that we should be well-rested and prepared, and that proper Sabbath observance blesses the whole of Sunday, and can carry throughout the week... even if you wear shorts and a tee shirt every other day!

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