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By Jeff Borders
How do Mormons honor the Sabbath? Are there certain things that are not permitted?
Once again, I’m grateful for the FāVS readers submitting their questions. This is another great question. How do Mormons, or more correctly, members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints honor the Sabbath? Well reader, that answer is probably as broad and diverse as the over 16 million members of the Church. Like many others, Latter-day Saints believe that the Lord emphasized the importance of Sabbath observance when he gave the Ten Commandments to Moses, saying, “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.”
The remembrance of a Sabbath day was meant to be a sign of the covenants between God and his people. Just like other Christians, members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints today strive to keep the Sabbath day holy both at church and at home. One of the ways we do this is by attending church and partaking of the Sacrament to renew our sacred baptismal covenants. While at church we also attend other meetings meant to lift us, strengthen our testimonies and bring us closer to Jesus Christ and Heavenly Father.
At home Saints continue to participate in uplifting activities that strengthen their testimonies and create strong family bonds. For example my family uses the time to sit and play board games or to visit family members we haven’t seen in a while. On that note, Settlers of Catan can get pretty competitive in my house, but we create many good memories in the process. Members also spend their time serving and ministering to those in need, attending meetings, and fulfilling their callings and responsibilities.
What’s Permitted Varies
As far as lists of things not permitted, I think you’ll find that it varies by member and by family. Each family has to prayerfully consider what their family needs and then act accordingly. Generally we do our best to not work or purchase things on the Sabbath, but there are always exceptions to this practice. Many like myself, work in fields that operate 24/7, and we find ourselves needing to work on the Sabbath.
While I can’t speak for anyone else, when that occurs, I try my best to keep my mind focused on the Savior as much as possible. I also strive to do things that bring me closer to Him on his appointed day.
In April 2015, President Russell M. Nelson taught the following about Sabbath Day observance:
“I learned from the scriptures that my conduct and my attitude on the Sabbath constituted a sign between me and my Heavenly Father. With that understanding, I no longer needed lists of dos and don’ts. When I had to make a decision whether or not an activity was appropriate for the Sabbath, I simply asked myself, ‘What sign do I want to give to God?’ That question made my choices about the Sabbath day crystal clear”
I Go Beyond The Sabbath
For me, while I strive to honor the Sabbath, I also try to make sure my worship doesn’t just happen on that one appointed day. I’m a work in progress, but I do my best on a daily basis to do things that will bring me closer to the Savior. That could be daily Scripture reading, prayer, listening to uplifting music and talks and other things. Because honestly feeling his presence and honoring him one day a week just doesn’t seem right, considering what he has done for me. For me honoring the Sabbath is a lifestyle that I try to live.
In the end it really comes down to each person seeking the guidance of the Holy Ghost in their lives to help them know how to best honor the Sabbath, and thus best honor the Son and Father in the process.
If you haven’t done so lately, I’d encourage everyone to take an inventory of their Sabbath worship and seek inspiration for themselves to see what can be done to better remember it and keep it holy.
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