SALT LAKE CITY — The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints released a video Thursday of leaders addressing questions and encouraging members on the importance of striving for greater Sabbath day observance.
The video, posted on mormonnewsroom.org, depicts an interview with Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles, Elder L. Whitney Clayton of the Presidency of the Seventy, and Sister Rosemary M. Wixom, Primary General President. There is a 13-minute version and a 5-minute version of the interview.
The purpose of the video is to "encourage families and individuals to rethink and refocus their efforts on what they do on the Sabbath day," giving special focus to the LDS faith's main worship service, sacrament meeting, as a weekly spiritual renewal, a press release said.
"Our whole desire is that throughout the church, we focus on Sabbath day worship on the Lord," Elder Ballard said.
The First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles appointed a committee that included four apostles and seven presidents of the Seventy to discuss the topic. There was also input from women leaders of the church, Elder Ballard said.
"We felt that it was urgent that we strengthen the faith of our people," Elder Ballard said.
Questions addressed by the church leaders in the video include:
- Why the emphasis on the Sabbath day?
- Why is it important to consider moving sacrament meeting to the first hour of the 3-hour block?
- Why involve the ward council (a group of male and female congregational leaders) in planning sacrament meetings? And what is the role of the ward council?
- What should members understand as they partake of the sacrament?
- What is promised to individuals and families who follow God's commandments to keep the Sabbath day holy?
"We have to maintain flexibility (because) the church all over the world has different circumstances," Elder Ballard said in the longer version of the video. "We are saying, if it's possible, and if it is the right thing to do, consider having sacrament as the first meeting of the block."
Elder Ballard said members can do a better job of preparing talks that teach from the scriptures and spiritually feed members.
Elder Clayton said ward councils should help bishoprics plan better sacrament meetings months in advance.
“There's a great deal of freedom to move within that recommendation. What we hope is that bishoprics will bring in suggested plans for sacrament meetings, out into the future — we're talking two, three months out into the future — and that members of the ward council will offer suggestions," Elder Clayton said. "They may have a suggestion about who should speak or a refinement about a particular topic or a suggestion about a hymn.”
"We really do hope that members of the ward councils will look at this as opportunity to bless the entire ward, every member, regardless of their age, and to help faith in the Lord Jesus Christ be established by everything we do," Elder Clayton said.
Most importantly, sacrament meeting is about partaking of the bread and water, Elder Ballard said.
"When we partake of the sacrament, it's in remembrance of the atoning sacrifice of the Son of God," he said.
Away from Sunday church meetings, especially in the home, Sister Wixom said the suggestions should not feel restrictive. Performing acts of service, reading the scriptures, spending time with family, doing family history work, writing in a journal or to missionaries are among appropriate Sabbath day activities discussed by the trio of leaders in the video.
“When we consider that is his [God's] day, then what we do is in connection to him and for him," Sister Wixom said. "But that doesn't mean we can't load our children in our cars and go visit grandparents or family or relatives. It doesn't mean that we can't take time to laugh together.
“What we hope is that the Sabbath will become a delight for people at home, that they'll love what happens in their homes on Sunday," Elder Clayton said. "It will be a time to draw apart from the world, to just give ourselves some rest from the things that are always before our eyes the other days of the week ... all the things we worry about. And then on the Sabbath we could think about the Savior.”
Church leaders will continue to emphasize keeping the Sabbath day holy and training materials will be taught and distributed in the coming months, a release said.
"I believe that the world we are now living in, the most important thing 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," Elder Ballard said. "There are a lot of ways to divert the attention of our Heavenly Father's children now. We need one day when we focus our attention on what really matters."
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