Observing the Sabbath
Ricks College Devotional
August 29, 2000
On Sunday afternoons when Elder Bednar is not out of town on a stake conference assignment, we like to go tracting in your dorms and apartments. We show up at an apartment complex, knock on the door, and invite ourselves in. Some of you know who we are. Others don't. But we enjoy this activity, and it's a great way to get to know you better.
When we go, we sometimes see young men, all decked out in their Sunday duds, strolling from apartment to apartment to check out the young women. They're also subtly hunting for dinner invitations as well. So ladies, BEWARE.
Some students don't let us in. They carefully peer through the mini blinds, discover it's us, and then pretend they're not home.
Some scurry to clean up their messes, while others try to quickly hang up a picture of the temple and take down the picture of Hollywood "hottie," Brad Pitt.
Some are embarrassed about their dress. One young woman kept grabbing pillows from the couch to cover her skimpy tank top. Thank goodness the couch had pillows.
So, as you can see, Sunday has been an interesting day.
Why do we have Sunday? You've all read why in the pamphlet For the Strength of Youth: "The Lord has given the Sabbath day for your benefit and has commanded you to keep it holy. On this sacred, holy day, worship the Lord, strengthen family relationships, help others, and draw close to the Lord" (p. 16).
Keeping the Sabbath day holy is a sign to the Lord that we want to be his people (see Exodus 31:13-17). We have six days to work our own agenda. The Lord asks us to set aside one day each week to renew ourselves spiritually. The Sabbath is a constant reminder that our spiritual minds and bodies need nourishing too.
Many years ago I read a quote about keeping the Sabbath day holy that cut to the center of my heart. I've never forgotten it. May I share it with you?
Elder Mark E. Petersen said: "Our observance or nonobservance of the Sabbath is an unerring measure of our attitude toward the Lord personally and toward his suffering in Gethsemane, his death on the cross, and his resurrection from the dead. It is a sign of whether we are Christians in very deed, or whether our conversion is so shallow that commemoration of his atoning sacrifice means little or nothing to us" (Conference Report, April 1975, p. 72; or Ensign, May 1975, p. 49).
As we have attended your meetings and visited your apartments, we have learned that Sabbath worship and Sunday behavior is different for everyone. We are all in different places on the spectrum. See which of these situations describes you.
Some stay in church dress all day; some change into grubbies the minute church is over.
Some listen to quiet hymns; others crank up their stereos as loud as they will go.
Some study scriptures, write in their journals, or go home and visiting teaching; others nap all afternoon.
Some drive to the video store to rent movies because they are bored.
Some do their duty at church and become active and involved in their campus wards; others leave Ricks College every weekend to go home and miss out on the total campus experience.
Some arrive early to church, sit and meditate before the meeting starts, and prepare themselves spiritually to take the sacrament; others trickle in late, or completely miss the sacrament portion of the meeting.
Some wear Sunday best to meetings; others dress extremely casual.
Some attend the Church Educational System (CES) firesides for college-age, young adults once a month to hear the counsel of apostles and prophets; others stay home to watch television or do homework.
This list of differences could go on and on. As I said in the beginning, we are all in a different place on the spectrum.
But since reading the words of Elder Petersen, I have asked myself the question: Does my preparation for the sacrament, my dress, the music I listen to, and my Sunday activity reflect my appreciation of the Savior's sacrifice for me? Am I truly converted?
I find it interesting that one of the biggest issues facing mainline religion today is style of worship and what style of dress should go with it
Let me share the content of some brochures I received in the mail several years ago inviting me to attend a church in the community where I lived.
It's not a "Leave it to Beaver" world anymore where everyone dresses up on Sunday morning and goes to church. If you don't like the dressing up part, we understand. That's why there's a place for you. It's a place where people meet in a relaxed, casual atmosphere for encouragement and support. . . . And if you're not too thrilled with organ music, you just may love the sound of the contemporary music. . . . You can relax. You won't be preached at, but you will hear positive, sometimes humorous messages which offer solid solutions to everyday problems. The Sunday service begins at 10:30 a.m. and you'll be out long before noon.
Some of you are probably saying, "Where is that church. That sounds good to me!" Needless to say, I don't think The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is trying to attract members in this way. And I'm glad.
Every Sunday we have the opportunity to partake of the emblems of the sacrament, administered to us by those holding the holy priesthood. Those of you who prepare, bless, and pass the sacrament have a duty to dress and look your best so that nothing about your appearance detracts from this sacred ordinance. We who attend must also dress in our best attire to show respect for the Savior whom we worship.
Do you understand why we, as members of the Church, need to safeguard the dignity and sanctity of our meetings by the way we dress, the hymns we sing, and the doctrines we discuss? Casual worship breeds casual commitment. And casual commitment to Christ is not true worship.
To me, Sabbath day observance isn't about being casual, comfortable, and contemporary. It's about covenants, commitments, and conversion. Proper preparation before attending our sacrament meetings, reverently and worthily partaking of the sacrament during our meetings, and wise and prudent use of our time after our meetings will bring a fullness of joy to our lives. Individual and collective blessings will come to us as a body of Saints here at Ricks College if we keep the Sabbath day holy as we have been commanded. May we have the courage to evaluate our Sunday behavior and the faith to change and improve.
In closing, let me share one last thought with you. Before our son Jeffrey left for college last week, I told him that nothing would please me more than if he would use the time he had on Sunday wisely. Like many of you, Jeff is striving to become a missionary. We talked of all he could learn about the Savior and His teachings if he applied his heart and soul to serious gospel study on Sundays during this coming school year. Like Jeff, many of you are preparing to go through the temple before you serve as a missionary. If I had $100,000 to spare, I would buy each of you a copy of The Holy Temple written by President Boyd K. Packer. I would encourage you to read and study that book on Sunday so you would go to the temple prepared. The advance preparation would enable you to have a special, first-time experience. I'd ask those of you who have already been endowed to read it, too, so you would be renewed in your commitment to keep your covenants.
The principle of keeping the Sabbath day holy is true. Blessings await those who have the courage to follow this commandment. I bear witness of the Savior and his redeeming sacrifice. Our joy will be full if we have the desire to remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.