We have recently received instruction from the prophet and apostles of God pertaining to how keeping the Sabbath Day holy both at church and in our homes will increase our faith in Heavenly Father and his Beloved Son, Jesus Christ. Indeed, Church leaders have been instructed that in all Church-related planning and arrangements, counsel should be sought from ward council members in preparing Sabbath-day sacrament meetings to enable members a spiritual experience. The new Church training 'Teaching in the Savior’s Way” 1 is also aimed at all classes taught on the Sabbath be taught by the Spirit to comprise the pure doctrines of the Gospel. Teaching in this manner will help God’s children obtain greater faith in our Savior, thus become more like Him.
In addition to our leaders striving hard in preparations and arrangements to ensure all Sabbath-day meetings become spiritual experiences, we members also have an essential role to be diligent in keeping the Sabbath Day holy in our homes. In order to bring the Sabbath into our homes, we must place the Atonement of Jesus Christ at the center of our lives. If Jesus Christ’s Atonement is at the center of our lives, we should also place at the center of our lives the sacrament, which is a symbol of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. We learn from the scriptures that we should prepare for sacrament meeting with a broken heart and a contrite spirit: “Wherefore, redemption cometh in and through the Holy Messiah…Behold, he offereth himself a sacrifice for sin, to answer the ends of the law, unto all those who have a broken heart and a contrite spirit; and unto none else can the ends of the law be answered.” 2
In order to partake the sacrament with a 'broken heart and a contrite spirit,” we must prepare ahead long before each Sunday’s sacrament meeting arrives. Every week, each of us has experiences in our lives that detract us from the teachings of our Savior. It is important, therefore, that on Saturday night, before the Sabbath comes, we take care of all of our affairs in advance. As recorded in the Doctrine and Covenants, this should consist of “prepar[ing] with singleness of heart.” 3 We should not allow television programs or the Internet to interfere with our preparations, planning instead to turn these devices off earlier rather than later. In order to prepare for the Sabbath Day, we should prepare our hearts and the food we will need that day in advance. We should also set aside some time for scriptures and hymns, slow down the pace of our lives so that our hearts are calm. We should get to bed early, and then arise earlier on Sunday morning; “… retire to thy bed early, that ye may not be weary; arise early, that your bodies and your minds may be invigorated.” 4
Once Sunday arrives, we should prepare all necessary matters. We should be in no hurry. We should calmly proceed to church and arrive early enough to find our seats prior to the beginning of sacrament meeting so that we can then prepare to partake of the sacrament as we enjoy the sacrament prelude music. During the administration of the sacrament, we ought to focus our minds on the Savior’s Atonement and sacrifice. We should strive to understand truly our Savior’s great sacrifice, His Atonement and our communication with Him. Moreover, we should always remember Him and resolve even more fervently to keep His commandments so that we can always have His spirit to be with us. As we prepare for and partake of the sacrament in this manner, let us also review our baptismal covenants, so that we may once again become clean and grow closer to the Lord. It will also allow us to get a fresh start from the setbacks we suffer in life and provide us with courage and strength to face those challenges presented to us in the following week.
Such wonderful experience should not just be our three-hour meeting block and ends when we return home. We have also been invited to keep the Sabbath Day holy in our homes so that the entire Sabbath can be a delight. To ensure the gospel is passed on from generation to generation, a key component is studying and putting into practice the gospel of Jesus Christ. Hence, Sabbath is the best time to put into practice the gospel of Jesus Christ and we should make adjustments to our family affairs so that Sabbath-day observance in our homes is a “delight.”
Elder M. Russell Ballard spoke about family councils in the April 2016 General Conference. He said, “You may want to consider holding the general family council on Sunday, which is the first day of the week; families can review the past week and plan for the coming week. This may be exactly what your family needs to help make the Sabbath a delightful experience.” 5 Though the Church does not lay down laws indicating what we should or should not do on the Sabbath, yet, the family council can provide a forum for discussion among family members. When we understand that the goal of the Sabbath is to “keep [our]selves unspotted from the world,” 6 we can then hold discussions in our family councils on how to go about our various activities so that the spirit of Sabbath-day worship can flourish in our homes.
On Sabbath days, as we teach and put into practice the truth gospel of Jesus Christ in our homes, we should combine a wide variety of meaningful methods and church teachings. We can arrange for family members to assist a neighbor in need. Serving others allows us to put into practice those behaviors that characterize true disciples of Jesus Christ. Such service can be very simple, like visiting the sick or the lonely, writing to a missionary or a far-away family member. As a family, we can also work together on the genealogy of our ancestors so that new generations can learn about those who have gone before, and “turn the hearts of the children to their fathers.” 7 Through family history they can learn about their roots and prepare to perform saving ordinances for their ancestors in the temple to “turn the hearts of the fathers to the children” 8 … there are indeed many ways by which we can lengthen our wonderful experience of partaking of the sacrament at church.
I remember receiving these teachings when I was still a single adult. I would venture over to a hidden corner of the campus after church, where I would partake of the food I had previously prepared and pondered upon the teachings I heard at church. I would also regularly schedule time to go visit a former military buddy of my father. He was a single man, so I went to be with him, to talk to him. Our family now tries to heed the counsel of our prophet and apostles by diligently striving to make our Sabbaths delightful. We prepare food together and discuss the gospel together. I consider these to be some of the most prized moments of my life.
I know that when leaders of the church and families work together, we will receive the blessings of the Sabbath. Our faith in our Heavenly Father and in his son, Jesus Christ, will also increase and will prepare us to return to Heavenly Father's presence. I am grateful that we are able to have the gospel in our lives, and am especially grateful for the atonement of Jesus Christ. I know this to be true and I leave with you my testimony. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen. ■
Caption: Elder Ming-Shun Kuan
2 See 2 Nephi 2:6-7.
3 See Doctrine and Covenants 59:13; emphasis added.
4 See D&C 88:124.
5 See M. Russell Ballard, “Family Councils,” Liahona or Ensign, May 2016, 64.Liahona or Ensign
6 See Doctrine and Covenants 59:9; emphasis added.
7 See, for example, Malachi 4:6; Doctrine and Covenants 98:16; 3 Nephi 25:6.