The Forgotten Commandment
Mormons (and pretty much every other Christian denomination) regard Sunday as the “Sabbath”, meaning that they regard it as a holy day. On Sunday, we commemorate the 7th “day” of creation, or the “break” God took after he created the world. It is a day to be set aside to rest from our labors and worship God.
Mormons are a little different in how we treat Sundays. On the Sabbath, we generally refrain from such activities that involve work, or activities that would cause someone else to work on our behalf: shopping, attending movies or other performances or sporting events, participating in organized sports, etc. But it’s not only about “refraining” from work, it is about setting aside time to be still, to direct our thoughts to God and his plan and purposes, and a time to be reverent.
This does not mean we are encouraged to lie around all day (although it happens more often than not in my house). We are encouraged to plan constructive activities that would support the “no work/think about God” agenda while allowing us to spend time with family: attend church services, fulfill church callings and duties, spend quality time with the family, read scriptures, pray, take a walk and enjoy God’s creations, blog (that is my suggestion), write letters to loved ones and friends (catch up on email), take a nap, enjoy a hobby (arts and crafts, writing, anything calm I suppose), etc.
The church is officially pretty vague about what constitutes keeping the Sabbath day holy. This is intentional because it is a commandment that can get out of control. Think about those poor Hasidic Jewish women of Williamsburg, Brooklyn who have to contrive elaborate schemes of string and rope to be able to push a stroller to synagogue! I respect their determination to obey this commandment, but I think this is one thing that God let’s us figure out according to the dictates of our own conscience. I have noticed, however, that this topic comes up frequently in General Conference, but never with an absolute list of do’s and don’t’s (although shopping is often mentioned specifically).
Personally, I am grateful for the Sabbath. Growing up, it was the only day I was guaranteed to see my day for at least part of the day. And we often went to my grandparent’s house where we would all hang out and talk and play and eat my grandma’s weird marshmallow frosted cakes. It’s not that hard for us to plan ahead so that we don’t have to shop or do much on Sunday. I see the rest of the week as being for me and my needs, and I try to give the Lord one day in return (hey, like tithing!).
My one BIG issue with Sundays is that because I am “mentally confined” to the house, it is my best cleaning day! When we have 1pm church, I can get most of the house clean in that short amount of time. It’s magic! But I am trying to plan better so that Sunday doesn’t become my cleaning day, I want it to be my “rest from my labors” day, but it’s hard to rest when your house is a mess. I’m working on it…