The LDS Church has been encouraging members to better observe the Sabbath day. While the Sabbath day has long been a part of religious life for church members, this new focus encourages members to be more proactive in revering Sundays.
The church released a video with Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve, Sister Rosemary M. Wixom, Primary General President and Elder L. Whitney Clayton of the Presidency of the Seventy to explain why the church strongly emphasizes Sabbath day observance.
“I believe that in the world we’re now living in, the most important thing that parents can do is to fortify their (families) spiritually, so that we will remain true and faithful to the gospel of Jesus Christ,” Elder Ballard said.
The church teaches that the key to strengthening families is to strengthen devotion to Jesus Christ through Sabbath Day worship. While the Sabbath Day may be difficult to observe in a world with never-ending distractions, the church is encouraging members to remember the benefit of consistent Sabbath Day worship.
President Russell M. Nelson, president of the Quorum of the Twelve, addressed this topic in his April 2015 General Conference Talk, “The Sabbath Is a Delight.”
“I believe (the Savior) wanted us to understand that the Sabbath was His gift to us, granting real respite from the rigors of daily life and an opportunity for spiritual and physical renewal,” President Nelson said.
Tyler Griffin, an associate professor who teaches ancient scripture for BYU, echoes this sentiment. “(The Sabbath Day) is not a punishment, but some people see it like that,” Griffin said. “The way the (scriptures) approach it is to say God invited you to enter into His rest. He’s not punishing you. It’s an invitation to become more like Him.”
Members of the church have been seeing changes integrated into their lives and their meetings since the announcement was made in June.
Quincey Cole, a senior from Scobey, Montana who is studying wildlife conservation, said the new call has allowed her to re-evaluate her own Sabbath Day observance. “I think personally in my life, I’ve been trying to not just be like ‘I can’t do this because it’s Sunday,’ but filling it more with things I can do,” Cole said. “I like to read the scriptures, write in my journal or watch Conference talks.”
Cole said this push for more consistent Sabbath Day observance has also affected her ward’s sacrament meeting. Her ward now begins with a spiritual thought, followed by the sacrament. Announcements are given at the end of the meeting to avoid distraction from the sacrament.
The change in Sabbath-day worship is not just affecting BYU students. The church wants members worldwide to integrate these changes into their lives, and many are listening to the call.
Lani Hilton, a local mother, is writing a book on the Sabbath Day for children.
“I realized there often is a connection between the value we place on an event and how much preparation we give to it,” Hilton said in an email. Hilton said she focuses on teaching her children the seriousness of the sacrament and helping them to be reverent.