Elder Ballard, Elder Clayton, Sister Wixom Sabbath

In a new Q&A video released by the Mormon Newsroom, Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, President Rosemary M. Wixom General Primary President, and Elder L. Whitney Clayton of the Presidency of the Seventy discuss a renewed emphasis on Sabbath day observance for Latter-day Saints.

The footage comes from a training video we discussed a few weeks ago wherein it was announced that the ward council as a whole should take a role in planning sacrament meeting services “two, three months out into the future,” as Elder Clayton says it.

When asked why there is such emphasis on the Sabbath day, Elder Ballard responded:

“I believe that in the world we’re now living in, the most important thing that parents can do is to fortify their children and extended family members … spiritually so that we will remain true and faithful to the gospel of Jesus Christ.”

The trio was asked numerous questions about Sunday worship, including what members should understand as they partake of the sacrament. Elder Ballard felt that members should ponder “the atoning sacrifice of the Son of God … what that is and what that means to us who declare Him to be the Savior and the Redeemer of the world.”

Sabbath observance, however, is not limited to how effective we are during our church attendance. So much of it comes down to how we utilize the other 21 hours of the day. Elder Clayton envisions a time when:

“…people can become – because of the way they behave – more unspotted from the world, just a little cleaner than they were before because they’ve set themselves aside from the world for a day.”

Sister Wixom stresses that this doesn’t mean families are supposed to sit in ponderous solemnity, but that we should “take time to laugh together” and “enjoy each other.”

Elder Ballard discusses the “fun” of the Sabbath when we are with families:

“Family is the most fun place to be when we’re doing the kinds of things we would hope would be appropriate and wise for families to do at home. This does not include World of Warcraft” (final sentence added).

It’s important that the Saints understand there are blessings and benefits to more sincere Sabbath observance. Elder Ballard describes the Sabbath as an intentional “day of renewal” and contemplation. He hopes for the members to engage in a “spiritual feast” on that special day.

Elder Clayton argues that Sabbath observance will make individual and family life “sweeter” and that our faith will be “deepened” as we take some extra strides.

Earlier in the video, there was also mention of counsel to move sacrament meeting to the beginning of the block. Personally, I hail this move. Elder Ballard, however, is quick to remind us that this is “not a directive,” citing the diversity of the Church worldwide. However, he says that “if it’s possible and if it’s the right thing to do, consider having sacrament meeting the first meeting of the block.”

Interesting, Elder Ballard’s was not a response to the actual question on why it was important to make the move. President Wixom, however, had some great insight on how important it is, if simply from a mother’s perspective because “Children are fresh. We’re better prepared with the spirit and children are better prepared for that meeting.”

Renewed emphasis on Sabbath observance is an interesting trend that I’ve watched slowly crawl up the agenda over the years. And if we’re receiving this counsel, it’s clear we’re not doing enough to set the Sabbath apart as a different day from the rest. It’s not just about keeping the commandments by not going shopping and all that. It’s about making Sunday a day truly apart from other days – a day where our actions and activities greatly differ from what we do the other days of the week.

In that spirit, I am going to analyze my last Sunday and compare it to some suggestions from President Wixom:

Sure, some of that was in jest, but these are good reminders. I know I don’t do enough to make Sunday a day apart. I let Sunday be a day of relaxing, more or less – which, don’t get me wrong, I do enjoy very, very much – but how much am I proactively engaged in righteous pursuits on Sunday, not just neutral ones?

I’m not offering up any specific counsel; all of us are in different situations. But I hope that we as disciples of Christ can take a few extra steps to take Sunday more seriously, whatever that means to us. I’m certain we’ll be stronger as a body of saints if we take that initiative.

On an unrelated note, in transcribing the full video, Elder Ballard is the only one who speaks reasonably consistently in compete sentences. This isn’t a judgment of anything, but I thought it was amusing how so much that’s said are a series of incomplete clauses. The grammarian in me shall not die.

You can watch the video in full below.