The topic for this Sunday is the Sabbath Day. Moses wrote, "Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy" (Exodus 20:8). This commandment was repeated in modern times (see Doctrine and Covenants 68:29). The root for the word Sabbath is a Hebrew word meaning rest. After God spent six days or periods creating the earth, He rested on the seventh. (See Genesis 2:2-3.) The Sabbath is a sign of the covenant between God and His people. Until the resurrection of Jesus Christ, the Sabbath was observed on the seventh day of the week. Now the Sabbath is observed on Sunday in remembrance of His resurrection. It is a holy day ordained by God for the benefit of mankind.
Jesus Christ taught that the Sabbath day was given to man as a day to direct our thoughts and actions toward worshipping God and to rest from our daily labors. As we rest from our usual labors and activities, our minds are freed for worship and reverence. The Sabbath is a special day for us to renew our covenants with God and to nourish our souls with things of the Spirit.
What does it mean to keep the Sabbath day holy? The first thing that we should do is to sanctify the Sabbath day by going to the house of prayer and offering up our sacraments, by resting from our labors, and by paying our devotions to the Most High. (See Doctrine and Covenants 59:9-12.)
The second thing that God asks of us is that we rest from our daily work. God commanded the Israelites: "Thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle." This means that we should do nothing that would distract our attention from spiritual matters. Modern day prophets have told us that we should not shop, hunt, fish, attend sports events, or participate in similar activities on Sunday.
President Spencer W. Kimball warned that the Sabbath calls for constructive thoughts and acts and not merely lounging about doing nothing. (See Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Spencer W. Kimball , 170.)
Children and teenagers often wonder what activity is proper for the Sabbath. The prophet Isaiah said that we should "call the Sabbath a delight, the holy of the Lord, honourable" (Isaiah 58:13) and suggested that we avoid doing our own pleasures. Some suggested ways of keeping the Sabbath day holy are: attending Church meetings; reading the scriptures and words of other prophets; visiting the sick, the elderly, and family members; listening to uplifting music or singing hymns; praying to Heavenly Father in thanksgiving and praise; performing Church service; writing personal histories; preparing family history records; sharing faith-promoting stories; bearing testimony to family; sharing spiritual experiences with loved ones; writing letters to missionaries and loved ones; fasting with a purpose; and spending time together with spouse, children, grandchildren, and others in the home.
When trying to determine if an activity is appropriate for the Sabbath, we should ask ourselves: Does this activity show respect for the Lord? Does it direct my thoughts to Him? Does it uplift and inspire me?
Working on the Sabbath day should be avoided if at all possible. If it is absolutely necessary to work on Sunday, we should do all that we can to maintain the spirit of Sabbath worship in our hearts.
I know by personal experience that proper observance of the Sabbath brings blessings into my life. When I keep the Sabbath day with thanksgiving and a cheerful heart, I feel true joy. I also feel rested and ready to face the next week.