Considerable and deliberate counsel from the Brethren on observance of the Sabbath day has been noticeable as of late. Elder Russel M. Nelson gave an inspired, and inspiring, address in April 2015’s General Conference entitled “The Sabbath Is a Delight.” During this past October General Conference, 2015, four of the speakers gave time to the topic. Also in October 2015, a special training was given to the General Authorities and general officers of the Church, then disseminated down to each local congregation, concerning Sabbath observance. The December 27, 2015 edition of the Church News had many articles devoted to the Sabbath. Our stake presidency announced that our stake’s theme for 2016 will be “Honoring the Sabbath Day”. Is this all coincidence, or is there something more to the call for us to be more mindful of how we spend this holy day? I’m guessing the latter.
One of Elder Nelson’s opening comments was this…
”I am intrigued by the words of Isaiah, who called the Sabbath “a delight.”  Yet I wonder, is the Sabbath really a delight for you and me?” [2}
It wasn’t that many years ago when I would probably have answered, though to myself, “Are you kidding? Have you tried to keep six little Indians busy and entertained on a Sunday? I have seriously considered bringing some duct tape to Sacrament meeting in my giant Church bag. I’m exhausted at the end of a Sunday.” (If no none else is nodding their head in agreement here then I feel very embarrassed and bad about myself right now.) There has got to be a reason, a real concrete reason, for the Lord encouraging us, though His chosen servants, to reconsider how we prepare for and spend our precious Sabbath day. And I believe I’ve found it, right here under our noses, in latter-day scripture.
“And that thou mayest more fully keep thyself unspotted from the world, thou shalt go to the house of prayer and offer up they sacraments upon my holy day.” 
To keep ourselves more untainted from the temptations and sins of the world our loving Heavenly Father gave us one day a week to have the chance to focus on the things of eternity, recommit to our baptismal covenant with Him, and to renew the strength of our physical bodies and spiritual selves. In Elder Nelson’s more eloquent words…
“I believe He wanted us to understand that the Sabbath was His gift to us, granting real respite from the rigors of daily life and an opportunity for spiritual and physical renewal. God gave us this special day, not for amusement or daily labor but for a rest from our duty, with physical and spiritual relief.” 
It doesn’t take much effort to see the direct correlation between renewing our spiritual selves and being more unspotted from the world. There is much in the world that is, at best, coarse and at worst, absolutely wicked. As we trudge through it all, it can begin to stick to and then stain us. More and more faith and testimony is required to stand for truth and righteousness in the world today. If we are spiritually weak we may be less able to stand strong against evil, more easily confused or deceived by every wind of false doctrine, or simply too emotionally and spiritually tired to carry on. We need to Teflon our testimonies so the world’s filth and deceptions will slide right off.
Further reading in Section 59  gives a few divine suggestions on how a hallowed Sabbath should look. Individual adaptation will be as varied as we are, but we can each strive to follow this instruction as our personal circumstances allow.
“…thou shalt go to the house of prayer and offer up they sacraments upon my holy day”
No doubt about it, the Lord says we need to go to our organized Church meetings; and for those of us in the LDS church, that means attending the entire three-hour block. The absolute necessity of partaking of the sacrament, listening to speakers and participating in lessons that can, if we choose, edify and strengthen our testimonies, and the fellowship with our ward family will fill our spiritual reserve for the coming week. Don’t let the usual occurrence of these things diminish their importance. Let me give you a fitting, though lighthearted example of how this happens.
When I was in high school, a friend’s father opened an ice cream parlor called Tinkerbell’s in our town. All in our group of friends were hired to work there. Imagine my delight when on our first day he said, “girls, you can eat as much ice cream and treats from the candy counter as you’d like.” (I thought I had died and gone to heaven.) So eat we did. No, we feasted, on sundaes and chocolates and every other confection available for the first few weeks. But then something began to happen. Our enthusiasm for the smorgasbord before us began to wane. Before too long none of us was eating much of anything during our shifts. It wasn’t that those things had lost their deliciousness, but instead we had grown accustomed to them and now the appeal just wasn’t there any longer. All Tinkerbell’s treats had become common to us. So although we scooped, and topped, and cherried countless frozen creations day after day for others, we only occasionally enjoyed any of those things ourselves for the rest of the summer.
Can our Sunday church meetings become common to us? Does the familiarity of our worship services and classes cause them to become routine? Are we not enjoying all the deliciousness available to us there? If so, how can we change this? If we could only partake of the ordinance of the sacrament once a year how much more would we thoughtfully prepare for it and reverence the experience? All good for us to consider.
Some suggestions in preparing for our Church meetings :
Arrive on time (in fact, try to be a bit early) – To accomplish this try: packing your Church or diaper bag and setting clothing out, including shoes, the night before; get all the showers/baths done before bed; retire early on Saturday night; have a simple breakfast, no none will die if they just have cold cereal; then leave much earlier than you think you’ll need to;hat will give you time for last minute bathroom stops and drinks before settling in on a pew.
Prepare yourself spiritually – Read the lesson material for the class you’ll attend during the week, perhaps as part of your personal scripture study time. If you are unable to attend the adult classes due to your calling it will still benefit you and help you feel connected. Thoughtfully consider your previous week. Take time to access your thoughts, words, and actions. Is there something that you need to be especially aware of, and repent of, during the administration of the sacrament?
Three Down, Nine To Go
Let’s be honest, the three hours of our block schedule, though sometimes more rodeo than worship with young children, are the easiest to ‘keep holy.’ It’s the other nine waking hours of the day where the real challenge comes in. To make these hours something sacred or hallowed they must be treated differently than their more common counterparts. Again from Section 59:
- “Rest from our labors.” (vs. 10) – Whether professional or in home chores, if possible, keep those things to a minimum. Also, President Spencer W. Kimball said that he thought a good Sunday afternoon nap was appropriate. (Hurray!) 
- “Let thy food be prepared with singleness of heart.” (vs.13) – Consider paring down your Sunday meal. Eat more simply. Prepare a meal on Saturday for Sunday. Your family would rather have your time then a four-course meal, guaranteed. Break out the paper plates, too.
Everyone is fed and rested, now what?
Elder Nelson suggests the following:
- “The Sabbath provides a wonderful opportunity to strengthen family ties.” – When our children were in the home we spent the day together playing games and visiting extended family in the area.
- “We make the Sabbath a delight when we teach the gospel to our children.” – This doesn’t have to happen in a traditional ‘lesson’ type of way. We often watched Church videos and read Church magazines together. Both of these open up wonderful discussion opportunities.
“Now parents have such wonderful resources available to help them make family time more meaningful, on the Sabbath and other days as well. They have LDS.org, Mormon.org, the Bible videos, the Mormon Channel, the Media Library, the Friend, the New Era, the Ensign, the Liahona, and more—much more. These resources are so very helpful to parents in discharging their sacred duty to teach their children. No other work transcends that of righteous, intentional parenting!” 
- “You can experience true delight on the Sabbath from family history work.”
- “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.” – Make an extra batch of whatever your Sunday treat is going to be and take that to others, go Sunday caroling, visit someone homebound, in a nursing home, or assisted-living center. Do your home teaching or visiting teaching.
“If you choose to delight yourself in the Lord, you will not permit yourself to treat it as any other day. Routine and recreational activities can be done some other time.” 
What are those ‘routine things’ in your home you can eliminate on the Sabbath? In ours we chose to get rid of regular TV. We replaced our weekday music with gospel music, and sporting activities and rough play outside were not participated in. We also had a few toys and books that we brought out only on Sunday to play with. That kept them fresh and interesting to the kids.
Needing more help deciding what should stay and what could probably go? Elder Nelson continues:
“… I learned from the scriptures that my conduct and my attitude on the Sabbath constituted a sign between me and my Heavenly Father. With that understanding, I no longer needed lists of do’s and don’ts. When I had to make a decision whether or not an activity was appropriate for the Sabbath, I simply asked myself, “What sign do I want to give to God?” That question made my choices about the Sabbath day crystal clear.” 
Hallow The Sabbath
“The Savior identified Himself as Lord of the Sabbath. It is His day! Repeatedly, He has asked us to keep the Sabbath or to hallow the Sabbath day. We are under covenant to do so.” 
No one wants to be spotted. Reconsider how keeping the Sabbath hallowed, separate, and peculiar from the other six days can benefit you and your family going forward.
 Isaiah 58:13
 “The Sabbath is a Delight,” General Conference, April 2015
 Doctrine & Covenants 59:9
 Doctrine & Covenants 59:9-13
 Teachings: Spencer W. Kimball, Ch. 16 – “The Sabbath – A Delight”
 Ibid.  Ibid.  Ibid.