Reverencing the Sabbath can lead us to personal revelation and this reverencing should begin well before the Sabbath arrives.
The Sabbath can truly become a delight if we are ready for what it offers. The Savior knew we needed to prepare our minds to fully participate in the sacred things of God. In 3 Nephi 17, Jesus, knowing the people lacked understanding, told them to go home, ponder what He had taught, pray for understanding and prepare their minds for the morrow when He would teach again. Studying and applying the Lord’s pattern of preparation as we ready ourselves for the Sabbath will greatly bless us.
A row of Sunday shoes
My mother, a staunch Methodist, taught me a lesson about honoring Sundays, without saying a word. Each Saturday afternoon mother applied liquid polish to the shoes of my six younger brothers and placed them carefully in an open window to dry.
The weekly sight of that long line of Sunday shoes drying on the windowsill spoke volumes to my young understanding. I could see that Sunday was a different day, a day apart from the scuffed shoes of the week, a day for offering our cleanest and best self to the Lord. Mother wanted to honor God appropriately and polished shoes were a sign of her reverence for the Lord’s day. I learned on Saturday that the following day called for thoughtful preparation.
A love letter to Heavenly Father
Our preparation for Sunday takes on holiness as we plan ahead, preparing our mental and spiritual focus; it shows the Father you love His day. Sister Linda S. Reeves, second counselor in the Relief Society general presidency, said to me, “When I take the time on Saturday to prepare for Sunday, it is almost like sending a love letter to my Heavenly Father telling Him that He is the most important person in my life. He has responded by sending me a feeling of love — letting me know that He appreciates my efforts as I take the time to prepare for the Sabbath day.”
The prophet Ezekiel counsels, “And hallow my Sabbaths; and they shall be a sign between me and you, that ye may know that I am the Lord your God” (Ezekiel 20:20). How do we hallow the Lord’s Sabbaths?
A quiet chapel
Prepared to worship when Sunday arrives, we can bring a new reverence to the environment of the chapel itself. Think how you would feel if you entered a chapel filled with ward members, sitting quietly and listening thoughtfully to the prelude music. In such a setting we can concentrate on the purpose of the meeting, feel the Spirit and receive inspiration. Our hearts are also prepared and our minds taught truth if we attentively sing the sacrament hymn, pondering such lyrics as:
“As now our minds review the past, we know we must repent;The way to thee is righteousness — the way thy life was spent.
Forgiveness is a gift from thee we seek with pure intent.
With hands now pledged to do thy work, we take the sacrament.”
(“As Now We Take the Sacrament,” Hymns no. 169)
A witness of covenant
As the sacrament is passed, we allow the Atonement of Jesus Christ to enter into our being, individually and personally. Here is the heart of the Sabbath. We reach out to partake of the emblems of the Atonement, witnessing publicly that we enter this covenant with Heavenly Father to keep the commandments, to always remember the Savior and to be willing to take His name upon us.
With our symbolic action we are saying to God and man that we reach out to the Atonement of Jesus Christ, take it into our souls and desire His atoning blood to be applied in our lives. In this holy moment we acknowledge our constant need of the Redeemer, our desire for His forgiveness and blessing, and our commitment to live our covenants.
Keeping the Sabbath continually throughout the day will reap great blessings from the Lord. The Sabbath is not just the three-hour block of meetings! We can think of each hour of Sunday as a sacred hour — employing the words “always remember him” carefully throughout this holy day. Thus we would fill our home with the spirit of the day. Are there simple changes in our Sunday habits that could keep out worldly distractions and add spiritual refreshment instead?
A deeper discipleship
The effect of partaking of the sanctified bread and water gratefully and humbly is to make of us new creatures, spiritually reborn, as Paul teaches in 2 Corinthians 5:17. Week after week as we strive to live the sacramental covenant, we change. We deepen our discipleship as we prepare to keep the Sabbath holy and offer up our vows in righteousness (see Doctrine and Covenants 59:11); we then receive the guidance of the Holy Ghost, even personal revelation, in our daily life.
When we commence each Sunday prepared and reverent, our depth of Sabbath understanding will be as spiritual food to all members of our family. Faith in the Lord will grow in our homes as we bring our Sabbath day reverence into our living places.
Just as at church, reverence for the Divine in a home brings a spirit of truth and learning. Thoughtful preparation for and participation in the Lord’s day will surely make the Sabbath a delight at church and at home.