SALT LAKE CITY — In recent months, leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have encouraged members to strive for more meaningful sacrament meetings and improve their overall observance of the Sabbath Day.
That theme continued in the talks of various speakers at the church's 185th Semiannual General Conference over the weekend.
Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said meaningful Sabbath observance is one way members can hold onto the "old ship Zion," in his Saturday morning address, "God is at the Helm." He said the recent emphasis of making the Sabbath "a delight" comes directly from inspiration to church leaders.
"This helps us remain unspotted from the world, provides us with physical rest and gives each of us the spiritual refreshment of worshipping the Father and the Son every Sunday," Elder Ballard said. "When we delight in the Sabbath Day, it is a sign of our love for them."
Elder Quentin L. Cook, also a member of the Quorum of the Twelve, said "honoring the Sabbath would increase righteousness and be a protection for the family."
"Many members understand that truly keeping the Sabbath Day holy is a refuge from the storms of this life," Elder Cook said in his talk, "Be Temple Worthy — In Good Times and in Bad Times." "It is also a sign of our devotion to our Father in heaven and an increased understanding of the sacredness of sacrament meeting."
Elder Larry R. Lawrence of the Seventy gave a talk in the Saturday morning session titled "The Course of Steady Improvement," in which he said the sacrament is an ideal opportunity for members to ponder self-improvement.
"During the sacrament is a perfect time to ask 'What lack I yet?'" Elder Lawrence said. "The apostle Paul taught that this is a time for each of us to 'examine ourselves' " (1 Corinthians 11:28).
Elder Randall K. Bennett of the Seventy said Sabbath observance is one of "two essential weekly signposts that mark our journey to Heavenly Father," he said in his priesthood session talk, "Your Next Step."
In his Sunday morning talk, "That They Do Always Remember Him," Elder Claudio R.M. Costa of the Seventy suggested that starting a tradition of sharing stories of Jesus Christ with children and families would be a special way to keep the Sabbath Day holy in the home.
"This will surely bring a special spirit to our home and provide our family with examples from the Savior himself," Elder Costa said. “I am grateful to my parents for having taught me about Christ. I continue to see how the Savior's example helps my dear wife and me as we teach our own children. My heart is filled with joy when I see my children tell stories of Christ to my grandchildren.”
Elder Costa also counseled members to meditate on the sacrament prayers and what it means "to always remember him."
"The sacrament is a time for Heavenly Father to teach us about the Atonement of his beloved son, our Savior Jesus Christ, and for us to receive revelation about it," Elder Costa said.
President Henry B. Eyring, first counselor in the First Presidency, also referenced the sacrament prayers in his Sunday morning remarks, "The Holy Ghost as Your Companion."
"To always have the Spirit with us is to have the guidance and direction of the Holy Ghost in our daily lives," President Eyring said. "For that reason alone, it is easy to see why the Lord's servants have tried to increase our desire to worship God in our sacrament meetings. If we partake of the sacrament in faith, the Holy Ghost will then be able to protect us, and those we love, from the temptations that come with increasing intensity and frequency."
In his Sunday afternoon talk, "Why the Church," Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve said sacrament meeting is "a weekly gathering of respite and renewal, a time and place to leave the world behind — the Sabbath."
"It is a day to 'delight thyself in the Lord,' to experience the spiritual healing that comes with the sacrament, and to receive the renewed promise of his Spirit to be with us," Elder Christofferson said.
Sister Carole M. Stephens, first counselor in the Relief Society general presidency, also referenced the recent emphasis by church leaders to focus on the law of the fast and Sabbath Day observance in her Sunday afternoon talk, "If Ye Love Me, Keep My Commandments."
"Obedience to this prophetic counsel provides a way for us to be obedient to God's commandment to love him and our neighbor as we increase our faith in Jesus Christ and extend our hand to love and care for others," she said.