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“I HATE Sundays” my oldest son announced one Sunday morning. He was angry that he had to wear uncomfortable clothes, take a bath, wash his hair, and sit at church for two hours.
And I get it, I didn’t particularly enjoy church until I was older. But still, it broke my heart.
That’s when I began really thinking about the principles behind the Sabbath Day and what it means to keep it holy. I went on a search to understand it more fully and hopefully make it a day to look forward to, which is what I believe Heavenly Father had in mind when He set it apart for us. After reading scriptures, talks, and some articles from the Parent’s Review, and these are the principles I discovered and some ways to apply them:
- Sunday is the Lord’s day. This day is set apart from other days to worship God. It’s a day we remember Jesus Christ and his sacrifice.It’s a day we show our love and devotion to God.
- Sunday is a day different from other days. This is a day to slow down, reflect, ponder, and rest. Something different from our usual days of busyness and distraction. I see this as a day to step away from the noise of the world to give my mind and heart a chance to hear what God is trying to tell me through the Spirit. It is a day for me to reflect on my growth and my relationships with the Savior and my family.
- Sunday should be enjoyable. The Sabbath day was made for man, not the other way around! It should be a day of joy; a day to look forward to. However, it is not a day set aside for pleasure or slothfulness.
SABBATH DAY ACTIVITIES
And here’s how my family applies these principles:
- Attending church
- Discussing what we learned in the scriptures this past week, particularly the question “what did we learn about God and/or Jesus Christ from the scriptures we read?” In other words, how did we increase our knowledge of God?
- Apply what they’ve learned. My boys love making stop-motion videos of a scripture story using Legos. They also enjoy making iMovies of scripture stories. Occasionally we paint or draw pictures of these stories as well.
- Making music together. My two oldest boys play instruments and we enjoy learning arrangements of sacred music as well as playing duets together. Alternatively, listening to uplifting music is another good way to worship.
- Showing love to those around us by serving. Writing notes of gratitude, encouragement, and love is something we do on Sundays. My boys love drawing pictures and sending them to people, they also love baking treats to go along with their cards.
- Spending time outside in God’s creations and learning about the earth (which is our inheritance!)
- I do my best to abstain from social media and news. Instead I connect one-on-one with family and friends via text or phone calls.
- Read aloud. Besides scriptures we like to read aloud good books that teach truth, beauty and goodness. Here are a few of our favorites:
- Parables From Nature. I use the modern, free version from amblesideonline.org. I copy, pasted, printed, and bound to make my own book.
- Dangerous Journey: The Story of Pilgrim’s Progress.
- Stories of the Saints and/or Trial and Triumph
- Children’s Book of Virtues
- I Walked to Zion and Growing Up in Zion
- Biographies by Demi (St. Nicholas, St. Francis, Hildegard of Bingen, Joan of Arc)
- Action Bible. I don’t read this aloud, but I keep it in our Sunday basket and the boys read it on their own.
- World Culture. Charlotte Mason encouraged her students to learn more about world history and culture at home with their families on the weekends.
- Pretty much anything that teaches truth, beauty, and goodness and points to God.
- Take a short nap. Most days I don’t have time to take a quick siesta in the afternoons, and I really feel the need to rest for 30 minutes (or longer) on Sundays.
- Research family history. My boys love reading family history stories, searching for ancestors that lived during the historical time period we’re studying in school, and doing the activities on familysearch.org website or app.
- Watch TV shows or movies about Christ or scripture stories. Some of our favorites are
- The Chosen
- Living Scriptures
- Prince of Egypt
- Joseph King of Dreams
- The Bible (more appropriate for teens and adults)
- Family Council. I have an alarm/reminder set for 6pm every Sunday to remind us to have family council. This is a time we get together as a family and reflect on the past week –what went well? what did not go well? what do we want to change? We write a family email to send to friends and family, then we all write in our journals about something that happened that week, or something we learned, feelings we felt, etc. Finally, we then talk about what is happening in the upcoming week.
- Personal Interviews. This is when my husband and I meet one-on-one with each of our boys to talk about their goals. Our church’s youth program involves kids 8 years and older to progress and grow like Christ: “And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.” (Luke 2:52) They make goals in these areas: physical, intellectual, social, and spiritual. This is also a safe space for them to talk about their struggles and difficulties in life. We can bring up things we notice they’re having difficulties with, like getting along with brothers or keeping room clean, and collaborate with each other to find solutions. Mostly it’s just a time for them to talk and for us to listen. Its comforting for children to have this predictability. They know they can talk to us when emotions are calm and they have our full attention.
- At the end of the day we bond by playing a game. For families of young children it could be playing hide and seek, sardines, wrestling, or swinging the kids on to a bed full of pillows (one of my golden childhood memories!). For older families it could be playing a board game or other enjoyable activity.
Overall, I just want my children to understand the principle of Sabbath Day and not feel constrained to follow strict man-made rules. I want them to see it as a blessing and a day to look forward to. We’re still not quite there yet; my boys still complain why they can’t watch their favorite shows or do their favorite weekday things, but they’re slowly beginning to see that Sabbath Day activities can bring joy. The kind of joy that brings peace and lasting happiness.