As Seventh Day Adventists, we observe the Sabbath from Friday at sundown, until Saturday at sundown as Jesus and his disciples did. *Very early on, someone changed the day in which Christians should observe the Sabbath, so most Christians today observe a Sunday Sabbath. Either way, with a little planning, the Sabbath can become a day the whole family will look forward to all week long! At first, I just saw the day as a physical rest, and boy did I need it! I worked hard for the family all week long, so on Saturday, I put my feet up and read the Bible and watched sermons on-line. Lunch was a nice platter of dried fruits, and dinner was always lentil soup that I had made on Friday afternoon. Boy did my husband & children hate the day! I felt great on Sunday morning, but everyone else felt like they had just broken out of prison! A few months ago, my 18 year old daughter came home for a visit and gently told me that, "Ma, the Sabbath is just not working here..."
After talking with my spiritual mentors, Kimberly, Aunt Rosely, and Uncle Stefano, I knew that I needed to make some major changes. They did a Sabbath study with our family which explained that not only is the seventh day supposed to be a day of physical rest, but also a day of spiritual rest! We are to spend the entire day honoring the Lord somehow, but it must be a happy day because we can now rest knowing that through our belief in Christ's death and ressurection.... we will be spending eternity in Heaven with our Creator! That is something to celebrate! I realized that 'sitting' in the house all day long, eating 'dull' food was frustrating & depressing the whole family, which is not honoring to God at all!
So, I prayed, read some verses in the Old & New Testaments, did some research online, bought a few books, and typed up a schedule for our family to follow. (you can click on the file at the bottom of this post to view our schedule) To be honest, it does take a bit of work for the one who has to do the planning and carrying out of the plans, but it sure is worth it when you hear the kids CHEER when you tell them, "Sabbath's here!"
Preparing the House....
We all work together to get the house ready for a visit from the Lord. It's a great feeling to see all of the weekly clutter cleaned up by week's end, and it's MUCH easier to relax on the Sabbath if you're not looking at all of the 'jobs' that need to get done! It isn't fair or right for the mother to have to do all of the cooking AND all of the cleaning by herself. Many hands make light work, right? I remember my father telling me how he had to polish all of his family's shoes (8 people) when he was a little boy, as soon as he got home from school on Friday. He never needed to be asked; he just knew his job, and he did it (the best he could!). To make things easier, each family member's jobs for the Sabbath prep should be the same each week, and they should learn to do it automatically when Friday comes! Everyone will feel as if they contributed, and that they too deserve the physical rest that will come shortly after they finish their hard work! I am not suggesting they only do work right before the Sabbath of course - they should be contributing to the family by working ALL week long. That being said, my kids know that right after school on Friday, they need to get right to work. Backpacks disappear, and the vacuum starts moving. They start cleaning the bathrooms from top to bottom, emptying all of the garbages, putting all of their toys, papers, & 'things' where they belong and finally they need to check their wardrobe to make sure they have whatever they need for church in the morning all ready to go. On Thursday, I make sure to plan my wardrobe even down to the stockings so I won't have to make any purchases on the Sabbath. I also see if my husband's shirt, tie, and pants are cleaned and ironed. I say Thursday, since checking these things on Friday afternoon won't help you. There won't be enough time to wash & dry, or to go to CVS for stockings as you're trying to close up all of the jobs you need to finish as sundown approaches! Nothing should be left to chance on Friday evening, or Sabbath morning. Remember, 'fail to plan, plan to fail!'
Preparing the Food....
Making a list of Sabbath meals allows the family to vote, or take turns choosing each week and will avoid the request for a meal that is too demanding or just not appropriate for the Sabbath. The meals on the list should be family favorites that store and heat up easily. The menu should be planned on Thursday and the shopping, if possible should be done on Thursday as well. All of the food prep must be done by late Friday afternoon, so for me, the best bet is to split the cooking between Thursday & Friday so as not to get overwhelmed on Friday afternoon! After all of the meals are cooked, sealed, and stored, I make sure that all of the pots, knives, cutting boards, etc. are in the dishwasher getting washed before sundown. On a good day, I try to empty the dishwasher before sundown so any platters or casserole dishes that are used for the Sabbath can just be thrown right in there as the table gets cleared. Whenever possible, I use plastic cups, paper plates & platters (pretty ones if the budget allows) and plastic cutlery! Oh, and while you're eating, try to light candles and put soft, calm music on. Encourage a conversation that you'd have if you could see Jesus sitting at the table with you, and whatever you do, do not talk badly about the Pastor or any of the church members if you discuss the sermon during your meal. Remember, positive, positive, positive!
There are many good games available at your Christian Book Store, or online. Each family will be drawn to a different kind of game, but those that have question cards can be used in so many ways! The board isn't even necessary! I would be sure to stay away from games that are just time wasters...if the players can't ultimately be learning about God's word, then it defeats the purpose!
Bible re-enactments are lots of fun! Perfection is not the goal with these, so be patient (especially with the young ones and the silly at heart). People will remember what they act out. Children can be directed by parents what to say and they themselves should be involved in the skit. Fun(ny) costumes and props are optional, but they do make it more fun. Videoing the family acting out a Bible story is a wonderful thing to do. Everyone loves to watch the video played back, and that helps to make the Bible lesson/story more concrete each time they see it. I can't say enough about the time spent together doing this sort of activity.
Treats! In our home, we eat very little sugar. Treats are hard to come by, so they are very appreciated! I make sure to have treats planned for each Sabbath. They can be anything from a small trinket from the dollar or party store, or a piece of candy that I would never let them have. We treat the Sabbath like a special holiday since the Lord has come for a visit! Be careful not to over do it though. You don't want sugared-up kids bouncing off of the walls, because you'll spend the whole day frustrated and the kids will be in trouble all day too. Also, if you go overboard, you'll have to out-do yourself each week! Special, but Simple!
Be Creative! If the weather's nice, get out to enjoy God's beautiful creations. But remember, while you're out there, your activity needs to be honoring God. Be careful...it's real easy once you go outside to get sidetracked!
Keep in mind that each family's Sabbath will look unique depending on the size of their family, ages of their children if any, invlovement of family members, the types of Bible games they have available to them, etc... Each week in our home, the Sabbath is very different depending on the weather, the children's health & moods, the story we are learning, and who is home or visiting that day! The most important thing is that we are all spending the Sabbath day honoring God in a way that is pleasing to Him! Just remember, Prayer, Proper Planning, Creativity,and Flexibility are the keys to Sabbath Day Success. I hope this has helped anyone who is looking to structure the Sabbath Day for their family in a way that is honoring to the Lord our God! May He bless all of your efforts....
*F0r those of you who observe the Sabbath on Sunday, just adjust the days accordingly.
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