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How Observing the Sabbath Became Like Celebrating Christmas for My Family

We recently sat down as a family to talk about how we want to honor the Lord’s day. We began the conversation by talking about Christmas. It is one of our favorite holidays. We begin preparing for it months in advance. We talked about the food that we love to eat, the traditions we participate in, and the reasons why we look forward to the gathering. We made a list of our traditions: new pajamas, ebelskivers for breakfast, fun games, and quiet moments gathered around burning candles when we remember the times we have seen the hand of the Lord in our lives. Those are just a few. It became clear that the reason we love Christmas isn’t because it is December 25; it is because we have set apart that day as a celebration focused on Christ with good food, fun, and time spent talking about what is important. Then I asked if we might be able to set apart the Sabbath as a holy celebration similar to Christmas. If the day were filled with family, good food, and fun and conversations centered on Christ, would it become a day we looked forward to, similar to the way we look forward to December 25? We decided to give it a try. We started establishing traditions that would intentionally set that day apart from every other day of the week. I call these our sweet Sabbath moments. In our home it is a family-only day. We spend time together playing games or making cookies. Grace loves to make and decorate sugar cookies; I like to make meringues. We trade off. For one hour each Sunday we gather in the family room with a journal and spend time talking about what matters most. This is a time for reading the scriptures, studying doctrines and principles, goal setting and family planning—a weekly time to center our life again, with God’s purposes in mind. The evenings are for large family gathering. Married kids, aunts and uncles, cousins, and grandma and grandpa usually gather to eat dinner and share stories and laugh. With deliberate planning, Sundays have become my most favorite day of the week. 

President Russell M. Nelson gave some suggestions for keeping the Sabbath day holy. He said, “Make the Sabbath a delight by rendering service to others, especially those who are not feeling well or those who are lonely or in need. Lifting their spirits will lift yours as well. . . . Study of the gospel makes the Sabbath a delight. This promise pertains regardless of family size, composition, or location” (Russell M. Nelson, “The Sabbath Is a Delight,” Ensign, May 2015, 131; paragraphing altered). I wish we could gather together as mothers and talk about the ways we are intentionally setting apart the Sabbath in our homes. It would be so helpful to share ideas and traditions and recipes. These are the moments when I wish you all lived right next door. 

But there is a way we could share and strengthen each other with our intentions to keep the Sabbath. What if we each posted our ideas on Instagram? We could use the hashtag #sweetsabbathmoments. It could become a place where we gather to share the ways we are making the Sabbath more intentional. 

This upcoming Sabbath, I want to experience the great things of the Lord. I want my Sabbath to be a celebration, a time for refreshment, a gift. I long for it to become something I look forward to as I do a holiday—as a day set apart to spend time with family, rejoice in Christ, and rejuvenate my soul. So, this week I will do things differently. I will prepare my home so that there is order. I will choose a meal that my family will look forward to. I will prepare the clothing we will wear ahead of time to make sure it is clean, pressed, and organized. I will prepare my heart by spending time in His word so that I am ready to be taught. I will listen to uplifting music. I will set apart moments of stillness. I will be deliberate about creating traditions my family will love. “How can you ensure that your behavior on the Sabbath will lead to joy and rejoicing? In addition to your going to church, partaking of the sacrament, and being diligent in your specific call to serve, what other activates would help to make the Sabbath a delight for you?” (Russell M. Nelson, “The Sabbath Is a Delight,” Ensign, May 2015, 130).

Lead image from Getty Images

In the hectic scramble of a world that asks us to do everything, be everyone, and make it all look easy, we often lose track of the experiences that really matter most—quiet moments in our homes with our families when we feel the peace of Jesus Christ.

The lessons Jesus taught in the homes of His followers were simple. They were basic. And they were—and are—essential. In Creating a Christ-Centered Home, you will discover how to fill your family's hearts with the principles Jesus taught in the most sacred of classrooms: the home.

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