I was asked to substitute for the 4th Sunday of the month Relief Society Lesson. The 4th Sunday is pulled from a General Conference Talk. I was asked to teach from Elder Russell M Nelson’s talk titled “Sabbath Day is a Delight.”
Elder Russell M Nelson began his April conference talk saying, “because of what you have heard and felt during this conference, how will I change? Whatever your answer might be, may I invite you also to examine your feelings about, and your behavior on, the Sabbath Day” and continued with this first question…
Is the Sabbath really a delight for you and for me?
So, let’s speak candidly about the Sabbath and how we feel about it. Is it a delight?
I have a list here of questions about the Sabbath day and I don’t want anyone to raise their hands, but I want you to think about how your Sabbath fits into these questions.
- Do you look forward to Sundays?
- Are you frustrated about all of your Sabbath responsibilities?
- Do you find time to study the scriptures?
- If you have children at home, is it a fight to get them to church on time?
- If you have a teaching calling, do you wait until the last minute to prepare, making Sunday morning a bit of a panic?
- After the Sabbath, are you rested and ready to conquer Monday? Or do you look forward to Monday when the kids are back in school?
- Do you find quiet time to ponder or listen to uplifting talks or music?
- Is Sunday dinner so much effort/work that you are cleaning up from it til late?
- Are you able to gather your family together and strengthen your relationships?
- Do your kids fight more on Sunday?
- Can you find time to serve?
- Is your Sabbath filled with laundry and homework?
Some of those “yeses” that frustrate us are difficult to change. But some of them can give us goals to set to help us make it a delight. But maybe before we can make it a delight, we need to address why we have a Sabbath day at all.
What did the Savior mean when He said that “the Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath?”
Through out the scriptures, we are told several reasons and meanings of the Sabbath. First, following the creation, the Lord “rested” on the 7th day. In Hebrew, the Sabbath is translated as “rest”. In the Ten Commandments, we are told to keep the Sabbath day holy. Later it became a day of remembrance of the deliverance of Israel from bondage in Egypt. And it was called a reminder that the Lord may sanctify His people if they honor the Sabbath. And still later, it became a day of remembrance of the Atonement. But ultimately it comes down to the Sabbath is the Lord’s Day. And He has asked us to “keep” it.
Elder Nelson shared his personal belief on what the purpose of the Sabbath day is to him.
I believe He 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. God gave us this special day, not for amusement or daily labor but for a rest from duty, with physical and spiritual relief.
Why do you feel that God has given us the Sabbath?
How do we “keep” the Sabbath?
Let’s stop there – we could quickly get into a list of dozens of do’s and don’ts about what we can and can’t do on the Sabbath day. Personally, I have always struggled with the list, because the Sabbath is a day to gather as a church and partake of the sacrament and fulfill our callings and so much more. But it is also a day to build and strengthen your relationship with God and your family. When I was growing up, we received criticism from some about how we honored or kept the Sabbath. And as I look back on my Sundays growing up, they were my favorite day of the week. We would pack a picnic and go to the canyon for scripture study, Frisbee and dinner.
Other Sundays we would go to the “Symphony in the Park” with my cousins and grandparents. I would love to return to those Sundays now. But as a mom, I often get caught up in that Saturdays are so packed that some of my tasks roll over into Sunday. And that frustrates me. But, I’m working on it.
Instead of making the list we started building, let’s look at the Sabbath the way that Elder Nelson suggested.
Ezekiel 20:12, 20
What sign do you want to give to God?
D&C 59:9-10, 13, 15-16
How can you ensure that your behavior on the Sabbath will lead to joy and rejoicing?
I’ve brought with me a handout/activity to help each one of us create a sign that shows God that we love Him and are grateful for the Sabbath that He has given us.
There are five categories that can help us make the Sabbath a delight.
- Strengthen Family Ties
- Teach the Children
- Study the Gospel
- Family History Work
- Render Service
In closing, I would like to share Isaiah 58:13-14
13 If thou turn away thy foot from the sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on my holy day; and call the sabbath a delight, the holy of the Lord, honourable; and shalt honour him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words:
14 Then shalt thou delight thyself in the Lord; and I will cause thee to ride upon the high places of the earth, and feed thee with the heritage of Jacob thy father: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.
I am grateful for the Sabbath Day and pray that I can better make it a “Delight” and show my Heavenly Father how much I love Him.