Sabbath Day Observance

I had a conversation recently with a fellow student at Chico State who is a Seventh Day Adventist. He wanted to know why it is that the LDS church (and many others) observe Sunday, the first day of the week, as the Sabbath instead of Saturday, the seventh day.

My first thought was that the ‘when’ of the Sabbath is not nearly as important as the ‘why’. We celebrate Christ, both my Seventh Day Adventist classmate and I, we just do so on different days.

In our conversation we discovered many similarities in our beliefs, we both agreed that God created the Earth in six days and rested on the seventh. (Genesis 2:2-3) And we were both well aware of the 4th of the ten commandments which refers to Sabbath Day observance, saying, “Remember the Sabbath Day, to keep it holy . . . wherefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day, and hallowed it” (Exodus 20:8-11)

It is in the New Testament, however, that the importance of the first day of the week becomes emphasized. Mary arrived at the Garden Tomb on the first day of the week to find that Christ had been resurrected (John 20:1). Later, in Acts, Paul had the disciples gather together to take the sacrament and be instructed on the first day of the week (Acts 20:7).

As members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we rest from our regular, daily labors one day a week. We gather together to take the sacrament and learn the teachings of Christ from the scriptures and modern prophets. We follow the example of the early disciples and commemorate Christ’s victory over sin and death every Sunday.

Who should take the sacrament?

Q: What actions or thoughts would prevent one from taking the sacrament? Obviously killing a person, stealing, coveting someone who is not your married other, are all things that would prevent it, especially if one does not have any remorse for their actions but, is there any thing else and what severity are they at? Could just the desire alone without the action cause impurity unworthy of the sacrament?


A:  For those who are not members of the church, see this post.  For people who are Mormons already, I would answer that taking the sacrament is a very personal experience.  I hesitate to give any members of the church opinions on whether they should or should not take it.  The only person, besides yourself, who can tell you not take the sacrament would be the bishop.  He would recommend that as part of a disciplinary measure for something fairly serious.  If you have any sort of question about a specific thing that you have done that you think is serious enough to fall in that category, you need to just ask the bishop about it.

But after reading your question, it seems like you understand about the serious things, and you want to know some opinions about things that are less serious, like desiring to do something bad, or being not right with the Lord in your heart somehow.  Luckily, the sacrament prayers themselves come with a pretty good answer.  The person giving the prayer describes to God what you will be doing when you take the bread or water.  For the bread, it says that those who partake witness before God:

“…that they are willing to take upon them the name of thy Son, and always remember him and keep his commandments which he has given them.”

And for the water:

“that they may witness unto thee, O God, the Eternal Father, that they do always remember him.”  (Doctrine and Covenants 20: 77,79)

As always, this is just the opinion of one Mormon, but I believe that if during the sacrament you consider that you are willing to (in other words, if you want to) take upon yourself the name of Christ and always remember him and keep his commandments, you should witness that to God by taking the sacrament.  It has little to do with specific things you have done, and very much to do with what you want to do now and in the future.

That’s what I love about Sunday

This past Sunday during our worship meeting (called sacrament meeting), the speakers taught us about keeping the Sabbath day holy.  Their talks were a reminder to me of the sacredness of Sunday and what a blessing it is to keep this commandment.  I was reminded of this beautiful scripture from 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 honor 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.

Verse 13 has been a guide for me in striving to keep the Sabbath day holy.  As I have consistently sought to keep this commandment and follow Isaiah’s prescription on how to do it, I have found renewed strength, blessings too innumerable to count, even so many, that I don’t have room to receive them all, and above all, I have found peace.  I feel strongly that because I strive to keep the Sabbath day holy, I have been able to enjoy academic success in medical school while being a husband and father of three children.  I am not the smartest person in my class by a long shot, but my abilities to understand and retain information has been undoubtedly increased.  This is just one example, but there are many more–my marriage is stronger to name one specifically.  In fact, I would go so far as to say that I cannot afford to not keep the Sabbath day holy.  But, it is not just the increased understanding or my marriage that drives me, it is the assurance, peace, and joy that I feel in my life that God is truly guiding my life.  I know that I have found the strait and narrow way that leads to eternal life.

The commandment to keep the Sabbath day holy is still in effect today, just as it was in Isaiah’s day.  I urge you to think about your doings on Sunday, change if necessary, and follow Isaiah’s counsel.  Take God at his word.  Put this commandment to the test.  There will come into your life blessings that you never imagined.  The promises of the Lord and his servants are true, but it is up to you to claim them.

Why Can’t Mormons Swim on Sunday?

Q. Why can’t Mormons swim on Sunday?

Swimming is something we do mainly for recreation, like sailing, golfing, four-wheeling, and going to the movies.  The Lord has asked us to spend one day of our week in worship.  Recreation often distracts from this goal.  We prefer to find activities that focus our thoughts on the Savior and bring us together as families.

Is there something inherently evil about swimming?  No, but we can lose our spiritual balance when we overfill our time with fun-seeking.

The Lord instructed Joseph Smith, “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” (D&C 59:9–10). Notice that there is a blessing associated with Sabbath observance, and you can choose to claim it or not.  Freedom from the ‘spots’ or moral pollutions of the world is more important to me than swimming.

The blessings of closer communion with God easily outweigh the pleasure I might get playing Marco! Polo! in the community swimming pool (called the ‘Municipool’ where I live), especially when I can enjoy a swim on six other days of the week.

The blessings are not reserved only for Mormons, either.  Give it a try and see how you feel.  See David’s excellent article on Sabbath Day worship to learn how.