Welcome to Tween Talk for Latter-day Saints! This week, episode 11 of Tween Talk is about keeping the Sabbath Day holy.
Tween Talk Episode #11
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Tween Talk Transcript
Have you ever wondered if a certain activity is appropriate to do on Sunday?
Hey y’all, welcome back! This week, we’re going to talk about Sundays.
I know you’ve been wondering about it.
Maybe other kids in your ward are allowed to go to birthday parties, and you’re not.
Or they play on sports teams, and you can’t.
Maybe they even get offended when you say you can’t do something on Sunday, but they’re members of the Church, too.
Or maybe your family does something on Sundays, and your Sunday School teacher said once that it’s not something that’s appropriate for the Sabbath Day.
This can feel like a really big commandment that people argue or fight about.
And it’s always been this way!
Have any of you read the book series “The Little House on the Prairie” by Laura Ingalls Wilder?
Its about a family in the 1800s who lived on a farm in the prairie, kind of in the middle of nowhere. The nearest neighbors were miles and miles away, and they only had a horse and carriage.
So going to church wasn’t even something they did.
But you know what they did do?
In the 1800s, they only did a few farm chores (like feeding animals, right?), but then they could only read aloud from the scriptures and just sit quietly in a chair.
All. Day. Long.
Now I don’t know about you, but almost anything else is infinitely preferable to that time!
The Jews in Christ’s time and before had really specific rules about what you could on Sundays. You could only take a certain number of steps, for example.
Are you glad you’re living in today’s world?
So let’s talk about this.
WHY the Sabbath Day? What’s the doctrine behind it?
In Genesis 2:2, we read that God created the world in six days, and on the seventh day He rested from his labors.
But why do we have to?
God feels like the keeping the Sabbath Day is so important, He made it one of the ten commandments!
And He explains why in Exodus 31:13:
Speak thou also unto the children of Israel, saying, Verily my sabbaths ye shall keep: for it is a sign between me and you throughout your generations; that ye may know that I am the Lord that doth sanctify you.
Then later in the Old Testament, the Lord tells Ezekiel in Ezekiel 20:20:
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.
So God wants us to keep the Sabbath day holy as a symbol of our covenants with Him, that we believe He is God and we want to follow Him.
I think President Nelson said it best back in April 2015, when he gave the conference talk, “The Sabbath is a Delight.” President Nelson said, “
How do we hallow the Sabbath day? In my much younger years, I studied the work of others who had compiled lists of things to do and things not to do on the Sabbath. It wasn’t until later that I learned from the scriptures that my conduct and my attitude on the Sabbath constituted a sign between me and my Heavenly Father. With that understanding, I no longer needed lists of dos and don’ts. When I had to make a decision whether or not an activity was appropriate for the Sabbath, I simply asked myself, “What sign do I want to give to God?” That question made my choices about the Sabbath day crystal clear.
And part of the reason WHY is found in D&C 59:9-10, where the Lord says,
And that thou mayest more fully keep thyself unspotted from the world, thou shalt go to the house of prayer and offer up thy sacraments upon my holy day;
For verily this is a day appointed unto you to rest from your labors, and to pay thy devotions unto the Most High;
When you want to do well in a school class, do you just go to class and then never think about it again?
Of course not! You study the material! One of the best ways to study and remember the information is to do some of it every day. Not 24/7, of course, but if you have a big test coming up, you do best if you take some time each day to look at the material. If you try to cram the night before, you might remember for the test, but then you’ll forget about it right afterwards, right?
And think about summer vacation! How many times have you gone back to math class and the teacher has to spend the first week going over the stuff you learned last year because you’ve forgotten how to do most of it?
The Lord asks us to keep the Sabbath Day holy because He wants us to take the time to study Him! To study His words and His gospel.
Just like you spend a few minutes each day studying math, then the day before the test you might do a lot more, Sundays are that chance to do more.
You read your scriptures and say your prayers, but then Sunday you really focus on God and His will.
Keeping the Sabbath Day holy has TWO reasons why:
1 – to show God how much you love Him and how devoted you are to follow Him. It’s a sign to Him.
2 – to rest from your worldly labors so you can focus all your mind on the Lord and becoming more like Him.
And what’s the promise?
That you’ll be more fully unspotted from the world.
When I think of being unspotted from the world, I think about a dog.
Have you ever seen a TV show or a movie – or maybe even in real life – where a dog goes outside and plays in the rain and mud? Then he comes inside and what does he do?
He shakes himself and all the muddy water goes flying EVERYWHERE and gets all over everything.
Usually there’s someone there who is wearing nice clothes or just cleaned the white carpet or something.
So I imagine being unspotted from the world as standing next to a wet, muddy, dirty dog who is shaking himself off everywhere.
You spend almost your entire week in the world, worrying about worldly things. You go to school and hear kids use bad language or say bad things.
You might be pressured by friends to make bad choices.
You may run into a bad picture or even pornography, or hear someone tell a dirty joke.
It’s like the world is a filthy dog.
Can you get through the week with the world shaking its ugly things at you without it landing on you and staining your soul that was clean and pure and white on your baptism day?
Then on top of that, you have regular things to worry about, like homework and friends and sports.
The Sabbath Day is your chance to put all of that aside and focus on the most important thing of all: your spiritual growth!
Because at the end of the day, all those worldly concerns are secondary. The most important thing is making sure you’re following the right paths on your flowchart.
Sunday is the time you get to spend on that.
So now we get to the WHAT: the principle of the Sabbath Day.
Well, we read about one of the parts of keeping the Sabbath Day holy: it’s going up to the house of prayer (aka the church), and offering up sacraments (which is scripture speak for taking the sacrament).
Taking the sacrament is an actual priesthood ordinance.
Remember we talked about the priesthood ordinances?
Sacrament is an ordinance, just like the temple endowment is or even baptism!
We take it every week, and that kind of makes us used to it. I mean, baptism is only one time and we make a BIG deal about it.
But the sacrament is just as important!
In April 1982, Elder David B. Haight gave a General Conference talk entitled “The Sacrament,” and from it comes one of my favorite quotes of all time:
The weekly opportunity of partaking of the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper is one of the most sacred ordinances of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and is further indication of His love for all of us. Associated with the partaking of the sacrament are principles that are fundamental to man’s advancement and exaltation in the kingdom of God and the shaping of one’s spiritual character. We should reflect in our own weekday conduct the spiritual renewal and commitments made on Sunday. We may fail to recognize the deep spiritual significance this ordinance offers to each of us personally. Is it possible that a casual attitude on our part of routine formality of this sacred occasion might deaden our opportunity for spiritual growth?
Isn’t that absolutely incredible?
In fact, I have that quote written on the back of scriptures, and I try to read it every time I take the sacrament to remind myself of just how important it.
People will say that you should use the sacrament to think about your week and what you did.
But it’s the opposite.
Every single day, you should be thinking, “I’m going to take the sacrament on Sunday. Is this choice I’m about to make helping me prepare for that?”
Can you see how this type of attitude would work really well to keep you unspotted from the world?
So one of the principles of the Sabbath Day is church attendance and taking the sacrament.
But going to church is more than just the sacrament, right?
Moroni 6:5 says, “And the church did meet together oft, to fast and to pray, and to speak one with another concerning the welfare of their souls.”
One way we speak to each other about the welfare of our souls is with going to classes like Sunday School and Young Men or Young Women’s.
The Church has been putting a big focus that teachers of those classes should be having lots of questions and discussions, not just a big boring lecture.
And that’s because we should be talking to each other about the welfare – or the state or status – of our souls.
How are our souls doing?
Are we struggling with something in the gospel?
Maybe we have someone who is bullying us.
Maybe we aren’t sure if the Church is true.
Maybe we have an addiction to something that’s against the Word of Wisdom.
Or maybe we just aren’t perfect!
I mean, there is ALWAYS something we can improve on.
Even when you think you have the strongest testimony ever, you can always, always learn something.
In a CES fireside on February 3, 2006, Elder David A. Bednar gave a talk called “Seek Learning By Faith.” He said:
Nephi teaches us, “When a man speaketh by the power of the Holy Ghost the power of the Holy Ghost carrieth [the message] unto the hearts of the children of men” (2 Nephi 33:1). Please notice how the power of the Spirit carries the message unto but not neccessarily into the heart. A teacher can explain, demonstrate, persuade, and testify, and do so with great spritual power and effectiveness. Ultimately, however, the content of a message and the witness of the Holy Ghost penetrate into the heart only if a receiver allows them to enter.
Then in the October 2010 General Conference, Elder Bednar gave a talk called “Receive the Holy Ghost” where he said, “These four words—“Receive the Holy Ghost”—are not a passive pronouncement; rather, they constitute a priesthood injunction—an authoritative admonition to act and not simply to be acted upon.”
Whether or not you enjoy church is entirely up to YOU. You could have the most boring speaker in the world who goes 10 minutes overtime in sacrament meeting. Or maybe a Sunday School teacher who does NOT make things exciting at all.
And you can still learn something.
There’s a story in the January 2013 New Era about the prophet Spencer W. Kimball. Someone once asked him, “President Kimball, what do you do when you find yourself in a boring sacrament meeting?”
His answer was, “I don’t know. I’ve never been in one.”
Now, this was the prophet! He may have been an apostle at the time, but still – he was OLD! He’s been to hundreds of sacrament meetings! And I guarantee that some probably had speakers that weren’t the best.
And it’s not like because he was a prophet or an apostle that it makes him suddenly, magically not bored with church stuff.
I mean, he was a teenager once, right?
We talked about following the prophet a few weeks ago. The prophets are people, too!
But it’s his attitude about church.
I can guarantee if you go to church looking for ways to discuss the welfare of your soul and to improve it, you’ll find it.
And if you’re struggling, then ask the Lord in your prayers to help you.
He will ALWAYS answer that request.
INVITE the Holy Ghost to teach you at Church. He’ll do it! I promise!
Okay, so now that we’ve established the policy of church attendance, let’s talk about what to do with the rest of the day.
Because that’s what you’re dying to know, right?
You’re in church for 2 hours, and you probably sleep for 8 hours, so what do you do with the other 14 hours on a Sunday?
I’ll give you a hint: you don’t have to sit in a chair!
I’m going to go back to President Nelson’s talk: what you do on the Sabbath is the sign you give to the Lord of your commitment to Him.
Like D&C 59 said, this is a day to pay your devotions to the Most High.
So how do we do that?
The Gospel Topics manual for Sabbath Day on the Church’s website says, “At home, members participate in uplifting activities that help them learn the gospel, strengthen faith in Jesus Christ, build family relations, and provide service.”
The Strength of Youth pamphlet in the section Sabbath Day Observance gives in clearer direction, and even includes a few applications.
Now, before you get upset about applications being given, since usually that’s what we’re supposed to do ourselves, remember that the Strength of Youth pamphlet was published by the First Presidency.
You know, the prophet and his two counselors?
Now, whether or not you want to think these words are actual commandments or perhaps just counsel, remember how we talked about following the prophet a few weeks ago?
We’re trying to be VALIANT.
2 Nephi 9:28 tells us, “O that cunning plan of the evil one! O the vainness, and the frailties, and the foolishness of men! When they are learned they think they are wise, and they hearken not unto the counsel of God, for they set it aside, supposing they know of themselves, wherefore, their wisdom is foolishness and it profiteth them not. And they shall perish.”
And before you tell me that this is the prophet’s counsel, not God’s, let me remind you of D&C 1:38 where the Lord says, “whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same.”
Counsel from the prophet should NOT be taken lightly.
Okay, I’ll get off my soap box now.
Are any of you even old enough to know what that means?
Never mind, I don’t think I want to know the answer to that.
Anyways, let’s get back to the Strength of Youth pamphlet.
First, it talks about behavior at church:
Go to sacrament meeting prepared to worship the Lord and partake worthily of the sacrament. During sacrament meeting, be reverent and willing to learn. Refrain from activities that would distract you or others during this sacred meeting. Be on time for your meetings.
Psst, that means no hanging out in the halls with your friends and then walking into Sunday School 15 minutes late.
Okay, now for the rest of the 14 hours on Sunday that you’re awake and not at church:
Prepare during the week so that you can reserve Sunday for the many uplifting activities that are appropriate for the Sabbath day.
Alright, so that means do things during the week that are meant for the world so you don’t have to do them on Sundays.
Here are some of the things the First Presidency suggests you CAN do on Sunday:
Such activities include spending quiet time with your family, studying the gospel, fulfilling your Church callings and responsibilities, serving others, writing letters, writing in your journal, and doing family history work. Your behavior and dress on the Sabbath should show respect for the Lord and His holy day.
Now for the things they counsel you to NOT do:
Sunday is not a day for shopping, recreation, or athletic events. Do not seek entertainment or make purchases on this day. Let others know what your standards are so they can support you. When seeking a job, share with your potential employer your desire to attend your Sunday meetings and keep the Sabbath day holy. Whenever possible, choose a job that does not require you to work on Sundays.
Obviously there are always going to be situations where emergencies happen.
I am so incredibly grateful for doctors and nurses who have worked on Sundays when I’m in the hospital and am in need of care. Or who have been at the urgent care when my child wakes up on a Sunday with a fever of 104.
I’m grateful for firemen who are available to put out a fire that happens on a Sunday.
I’m grateful for police officers who can help when there’s a car accident on Sunday.
Sometimes emergencies and life happen.
One spring, my husband and I purchased a few new trees to put in our backyard. I remember exactly when it was, because it was Easter weekend.
We planted the trees on Friday, put down the tree stakes, and watered them. That night, a huge windstorm came through and knocked one of the trees down. We were asleep and didn’t see it until the next morning.
So we replanted the poor tree that had had its roots bare all night long (and actually most of the morning since we couldn’t see it from the window). We were really hopeful that being without nourishment from the soil wouldn’t hurt it too badly.
We packed the dirt around the roots tightly and it seemed stable.
The next day, Sunday evening as we ate our Easter dinner, the wind started blowing again and blew that poor tree right over again.
We knew that leaving it another night would probably kill it, and we discussed what to do.
We remembered a story in Luke 14:5 where Jesus healed on the Sabbath day, and the Pharisees accused him of breaking the Sabbath. Jesus said, “Which of you shall have an ass or an ox fallen into a pit, and will not straightway pull him out on the sabbath day?”
Jewish tradition allowed for exceptions like this, and the Savior did, too.
We decided that the ox was in the mire (or pit) for us with that tree, and we went out and replanted it. The kids had a good time, and I have great picture of my husband digging hard, with my then three-year-old son in his Easter clothes, complete with tie and hat, standing and bossing his dad about where to put the tree.
Elder Holland gave a talk in the April 2019 General Conference called, “Behold the Lamb of God.” This was the same conference where Come Follow Me was announced and church was shortened to two hours. He said, “As for punctuality, a late pass will always be lovingly granted to those blessed mothers who, with children and Cheerios and diaper bags trailing in marvelous disarray, are lucky to have made it to church at all. Furthermore, there will be others who unavoidably find their ox in the mire on a Sabbath morning. However, to this latter group we say an occasional tardiness is understandable, but if the ox is in the mire every Sunday, then we strongly recommend that you sell the ox or fill the mire.”
And I’m going to leave it there.
The rest of these applications are up to YOU.
If there’s one thing you take away from this podcast, it’s this:
When you aren’t sure if something is okay for Sunday, ask yourself the same thing President Nelson does: What kind of sign do I want to show God? How can I be valiant?
And remember that you should be thinking about the sacrament during the week, not just thinking about your week during the sacrament.
Give that a try this week.
See how it changes you, how it keeps you safe from the world and brings you closer to God.
And I’ll see y’all next week, when we talk about repentance and consequences.