Sabbath can be a blessing to individuals, families, and communities
Here in Blackfoot, the community is undergoing a community review. This review is facilitated by a state agency called the Idaho Rural Partnership. The purpose of the review is to look at opportunities for our community to enhance itself culturally, educationally and economically. One area residents have identified early on is a need for increased spirituality in the residents of Blackfoot. Sundays can provide the beginning for a solution to this concern.
Most people are very busy; one could argue that they are too busy. Many people here in East Idaho, and elsewhere, feel a bit like they are gerbils in a cage running over and over a wheel. However, one day a week at least we do not have to feel this way, and that is Sunday, the Sabbath.
Observing and resting from our usual cares on the Sabbath is one of the Ten Commandments God gave to Moses on Mount Sinai. The commandment, which can be found in Exodus 20: 8-11 (KJV), states the following, “Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: But the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.”
Our savior, Jesus Christ, also taught that the Sabbath is more than a commandment to worship God, it meant to be a blessing upon all mankind. In Mark 2:27, the Savior tells us the following, “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath.”
Today the observance of the Sabbath is likely needed more than ever. There are some differences on how various Christian churches keep the Sabbath. However, I would like to discuss three of the more common elements among various faiths and how these can bless individuals, families and communities.
All Christian faiths encourage their members to keep the Sabbath by attending church services. Patrick Fagan, a senior fellow and director for the Center for Research on Marriage and Religion of the Family Research Council, in an article published by the Heritage Foundation, stated that couples who attend church services regularly are much less likely to divorce. Additionally, Fagan found that individuals who attend church regularly are less likely to commit crimes, become parents out of wedlock and, in general, because of the moral teachings religion provides, make better life decisions.
Fagan also found that those who attend religious services regularly are generally happier people. His research found that those who go to church are less likely to commit suicide, have higher self-esteem and are less likely to suffer from depression. Also, many churches play an important role in helping those suffering from addictions make positive changes in their lives and the lives of those around them. It is also interesting to note that those who attend church are also more likely to enjoy a longer and healthier life.
There are also economic benefits to church attendance which Fagan noted. One example was the role many churches play in providing programs to help provide job skills to youth and adults and assisting those in poverty.
Another common practice on the Sabbath among Christians of many different faith communities is spending time with families are loved ones. Research has consistently found that children are benefited developmentally and emotionally from the amount of time and positive memories that are created by being with parents. Sunday can be a day of sharing time with family with activities such as dinners, games, and an uninterrupted time to be involved with each other’s lives. Quality family time on Sunday can be best be achieved by taking a break from television, smartphones, and the internet.
Among many Christians, the avoidance of work is a common practice on the Sabbath. With this being said, many people have to work on Sundays. For example, police, emergency service workers and medical professionals are needed seven days a week. Others may be compelled by their employers to work on the Sabbath. However, when possible, avoid unnecessary work on the Sabbath can bring many blessings.
The simple choice of setting aside the Sabbath as a day to avoid labor allows one to better recognize that human beings are spiritual creatures first and foremost. While the material world is present in our lives, the spiritual side is also vitally important. Too many in our culture have lost sight that they are a spiritual creation of a Heavenly Father who loves them. Sunday can help bring sanity to a world where career and materialism seem to be gaining an increasing hold on our lives. The Sabbath gives us the clarity to see that we are children of God and our goal should be to do what is needed to enter the kingdom Heavenly Father has in store for those who strive to follow him.
If you have not been to church in a while, I would encourage you to attend the church of your choice. You will not only bless yourself but your family and the community around you.
Chris Cannon is the Stake President of the Blackfoot South Stake of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.