How Would Your Family Describe the Sabbath?
“Is it still Sunday?” It’s a question I get nearly every week from my three-year-old son, and it’s usually said with more dread than delight.
From his perspective, I can kind of see why. To him, the Sabbath means no TV, no jumping on the trampoline, no playing with friends, no sleeping in. And as far as the “do’s,” with the constant shushing and reminders to “be reverent” it probably feels like the only thing he’s allowed to do on Sunday is be on his best behavior.
After noticing my son’s less than enthusiastic attitude toward Sundays, and wanting to heed the counsel of President Russell M. Nelson to “make the Sabbath a delight,” I knew that in my home I needed to teach of its importance in a different way. I decided to start with a family home evening discussion based around these five questions.
What Are Three Things You Love about Sundays?
As disappointed as I was about the nagging “Is it still Sunday?” question, I was pleasantly surprised to hear what my three young children said they loved about Sundays.
“We get to learn in church and learn about Jesus,” said my three-year-old. “I love to take the bread to remember His body and the water is for His blood.”
“I love getting a warm feeling at church,” said my six-year-old daughter. She also said that she liked the peace and quiet at home on Sundays and enjoyed taking naps.
My oldest daughter, age 10, also said she loved going to church, and added that she loved being able to spend time with family.
Wow. Of all the things they could have said they love about Sundays (no school, sleeping in, etc.), their answers started with the Savior and ended with family. I was overwhelmed with delight to hear that even at these young ages, their love for the Sabbath begins with church attendance and partaking of the sacrament.
As President Nelson taught us parents, “We make the Sabbath a delight when we teach the gospel to our children.”
What’s a Family Activity We Can Do on Sunday?
I was surprised by how long it took for my kids to answer this one. I suppose in their minds, besides going to church, partaking of the sacrament, and spending time with family, what else is there to do on Sunday? After some brainstorming, we discovered a lot.
Suggestions ranged from going on a family walk, playing board games that we don’t usually play during the week, doing family history, and watching family videos.
One of my favorite ideas came as we discussed how we could increase our gospel worship at home. My suggestion to read the scriptures evolved into a Sunday morning devotional where we’d come together each week with questions we have or topics we’d like to learn more about. Instead of reading a chapter like we do in our regular scripture study, Sunday scripture study would be different. It would be focused on teaching our children the pattern of how to find real answers to their questions through relying on the Spirit.
What Activities Would You Avoid on Sundays?
Our discussion around this was based on President Nelson’s counsel to “delight yourself in the Lord” by not pursuing your own pleasures.
As much as my kids love their electronics, my six-year-old said it’s an activity she can do without to make Sunday different. I agreed to my 10-year-old daughter’s request for no yelling on Sundays (both parents and kids). And my husband suggested that as a family, we avoid anything self-indulgent, like taking long naps or eating too much at family get-togethers. My favorite suggestion was from my three-year-old. On Sundays, he said, we can avoid having a bad attitude and just “be happy.”
How Can We Help Others on Sunday?
Most of our family live out of state, so we use Sundays to call them and catch up. To make Sundays different, my kids suggested we pick family members or friends we don’t usually talk to on Sundays and give them a call too.
They also suggested spreading love in our neighborhood by making treats and delivering them anonymously. They love to do that kind of service around Christmas; why not do it more frequently?
How Can You Help Our Family Keep the Sabbath Day Holy?
The final and most important question we addressed was how to make this stick. We often have trouble translating talk into action, and I didn’t want that to happen with this plan to make the Sabbath more meaningful.
We made assignments for who would be responsible for picking a person to call or reach out to each week. We assigned who would be responsible for gathering the family for Sunday morning devotionals. We assigned who would pick the neighbor we would serve and coordinate the making of a treat or a thank you note. As we did so, the kids got excited. They wanted to make a Sabbath day chart similar to an FHE one. They were engaged in the plan because they helped make it. Through family discussion, we discovered that there is more than church and naps on Sunday—and it can all be a delight.
What does the Sabbath mean to you? Answer that question with your family by downloading these discussion questions to use in an upcoming family home evening.
Irinna Danielson graduated from Brigham Young University with a degree in print journalism. She is a wife and mother to four beautiful children and serves in her ward Primary in Bluffdale, Utah, teaching the Valiant class.