Welcoming the Sabbath
Written by Karen Meeker
Long-time Church members share things they’ve learned about preparing for a happy and holy Sabbath.
Preparing to welcome and observe the Sabbath in west Texas in the middle 1950s was part of a whole different world as I look back on it now. We had no local congregation for fellowshipping. We had no minister other than a man whose dynamic preaching over the radio had led us to one biblical truth after another. And we had no mentors—only booklets and radio broadcasts, a magazine or two and our Bibles. It was truly a journey of discovery.
The obvious demonstration on our part was to do no work on the Sabbath. So we were left with 24 hours to figure out what else was involved. We did a lot of resting and reading and then resting again. I don’t recall my parents trying to teach us per se, only that my sister and I were very aware of their efforts as they gradually learned, among other things, how to keep the Sabbath holy.
One summer my father rented a manual typewriter, mainly for me to sharpen my typing skills for school. But that summer I spent hours on the Sabbath typing out the Bible verses that answered correspondence course lessons sent out by the Radio Church of God, which was founded by the owner of that memorable radio voice, Herbert W. Armstrong.
Eventually I found myself at Ambassador College, and many things in my spiritual life began to fall into place, including how to properly prepare for and keep the Sabbath and God’s holy days. Then it was marriage and babies and churches and more lessons, learned as often by missing the mark as by occasional successes along the way.
Fine-tuning for the Sabbath
Each stage in life seems to call for adjustments, even when it comes to Sabbath-keeping. A single person with like-minded peers enjoys it one way; a widow or widower may find it more challenging—even a little lonely. Adherents can find themselves in hospitals, nursing homes or even prison, and suddenly Sabbath-keeping is complicated by unforeseen circumstances, often beyond their control.
Ideally couples are united in observing the Sabbath. If not, the observing mate often has to do some creative and prayerful thinking in order to come to an amicable solution. Even families find the game plan ever changing, moving from guiding eager children to urging and encouraging reluctant or questioning teens.
Tapping our resources
The present-day Church of God has existed long enough that we now not only have congregations, ministers and media resources, but we also have mentors and vehicles by which to share experiences, advice and ideas. I hope that this blog will prove to be an encouragement as all of us meet our various unique challenges in not only preparing for the Sabbath, but also honoring and enjoying it to the full.
Following you will find a few comments and suggestions from fellow Sabbath-keepers who are endeavoring to do just that.
Staging day for God’s Sabbath
Dee reflected: “So often, women being ‘keepers at home’ has been portrayed as only a physical thing, which is important, but it’s also important to keep the home spiritually, especially making sure the family, or whoever lives there, is ready to enter the Sabbath day in a calm (okay, ‘calm’ may not be possible if you have some little ones, but an atmosphere of anticipation can be set and the kids can understand Friday night is different) and reverent manner.
“It’s all about setting an atmosphere pleasing to God. I’ve found in the past if I spent too much of Friday cleaning, cooking special things, etc., that I was exhausted by the time sundown came and pretty much got no studying that evening, because as soon as I start to read, my head starts dropping! …
“I now start early in the week so that I can be sure Friday is the Sabbath ‘staging’ day for God’s holy time. Also, by starting early with a plan in mind, the whole family can really look forward to a special Friday evening.”
Preparing for the Sabbath
Joan, a member with a plan, commented, “Sabbath preparation for me begins on Monday; I ‘try’ to plan ahead so when Friday comes, it is just touch up. There is always the unexpected, but this is my plan. Friday evenings it is usually just the two of us unless we have someone over. I like to set the table nice and fix a nice dinner. I like to have the Sabbath start with everything in order.”
A mother from Ohio said, “I try to get all of my housecleaning and laundry done early in the day on Friday so that I’m not rushing around as the Sabbath is approaching. Plus, it is nice to go into the Sabbath with a clean house. Then, when it is time to sit down for dinner, we put ‘Sabbath’ music on and light candles on the table. Our daughter is not quite 3 and she already looks forward to this tradition. If we dare sit down to the table without the candles or music, she lets us know right away!”
From John in Utah: “The carpet is always vacuumed for that extra special touch and we almost always light candles for the evening ambiance. Our grown kids still talk about how we would often play a quiet game together. We still play the old hymn recording from AC days on the Sabbath morning and usually have a nicer breakfast. Our goal is to make it a delight and home an oasis from the cares of the world.”
There’s much more to share, so stay tuned for part 2.
For more about the Sabbath, check out these links:
- How to Keep the Sabbath as a Christian
- Was the Sabbath Changed to Sunday?
- The Fourth Commandment: Remember the Sabbath Day.
Karen Meeker was about 12 years old when her parents first began learning about the Sabbath. “Since then it has been a constant grounding force in my life. Sharing it with my husband/soul mate, my family and with those of like minds over many years and in many places has been a treasure without price, and I’m so thankful for having had such a privilege.”