Preparation Day Reminiscences

It is amazing how much children take in from the life-style around them and store in their minds as part of their patchwork of life. Things about preparation for Sabbath are very strong in my memories.

My mother and father had been to college, and many of the things that they did there remained through their married life. We often had people to lunch, and so the cloths for the table were checked and the serviettes pressed again to make sure the last creases were smoothed out. They had been starched, and how easily that starch went into yellow patches.

Preparing the House

Everything that could be done, ready for Sabbath, was done and left under clean tea towels. The vegetables were prepared and the gravy almost ready; it just needed to be heated. We often had tins of vegetables that only had to be opened, or a winter meal was a thick stew with chunky bread. Later it seemed to be a lentil soup that became a standard Seventh-day Adventist recipe in many homes of the day. The whole house was hoovered from top to bottom and dusted. Almost last of all was the bathroom and toilet, with smells of Harpic and Vim, shiny black and white floor tiles and bright chrome taps and towel rail. Everyone had their baths and hair washed and then the bathroom was cleaned. This was my job. My mother felt I was safe in there and would get on with the job. I had (and still do!) a problem that everything with print on it has to be read. That does not get the job done for a youngster. Bathrooms, fortunately, do not have much in them to read!

Preparing the Clothing

The next task was to put out all the clothes for the morning, examine the stockings for any snags, check to make sure the white gloves were spotless, and press Dad’s trousers. I had the shoes to polish, and I had that down to a fine art. You could have seen your face in the black toecaps of Dad’s shoes. Handkerchiefs would be laid out on the table, a crisp white cotton one boiled in Omo, and dipped in the ‘blue’, for Dad. Mum had one from Switzerland that she had been given, with pretty white embroidery and lace, always with a hint of lavender from the ‘scenty drawer’ where the best things were put. Along side these were our offerings in Sabbath purses with our tithe envelopes, Mum’s best watch, Dad’s special silver propelling pencil, and our lesson books, Bibles, and hymn books. Mum had a miniature leather, tan-colored suitcase as a Sabbath bag, and this was put ready too. Inside was usually hidden a Mitcham mint to curb a rumbling stomach in second service!

Sometimes I was sent on an errand to another member’s house, and there it seemed to be just the same. The smell of Lavendo polish met you at the door; fresh flowers were on the table, and there was always a smell of new made bread. I just knew it was preparation day there too. The next day, Sabbath, the same sister came quietly into church and knelt and prayed in her place as she entered the house of God. She had on her neat costume, little round hat and her fox fur with the satin lining round her shoulders. She was ready to come before God, and I knew that her home was like that too.

Secular Activities Out of Sight

Back at our house, papers and the Radio Times were hidden under the cushion of the easy chair by the fire; all toys and knitting were put away out of sight, and last thing of all, fresh towels were put in the bathroom. In the kitchen, crisp tea towels were hung on the hook, and a new roller towel with orange and green stripes was put in place, along with a snowy white boiled dishcloth on the sink. We had all worked to make the Sabbath a special day.

We often used to put up the speaker if he had traveled some distance, and so we frequently had company for Friday evening, which I enjoyed. Pastors did not travel on the Sabbath if this was avoidable. Sometimes we had returning missionaries home on furlough to stay with us, and it was a delight to look at the curios that they had brought back from distant countries. There were pictures made of blue butterfly wings, beads from India, a canoe from Brazil made of raw rubber, a hummingbird’s nest and other delights. Of course I had sneak previews before the Missions Appeal the next day.

Preparing the Heart

As it began to draw towards sunset, preparations were all finished, casual slippers were taken off and smart shoes put on, fresh clothes were donned and hair brushed. If Sabbath came in around the time of a meal, aprons were always taken off and laid to one side. My father offered prayer for us as a family, thanking God for the blessings and watchcare of another week and praying that the messages of the hour would be food for the people of God as we worked to hasten the coming of Jesus. He always prayed that nothing in our lives would dishonor the Sabbath in any way and remembered the groups meeting around the world during the sacred hours. We had a harmonium at home which my mother used to play well. Mum and Dad sang duets, tenor and soprano or alto, or we learned a new hymn. Visitors joined in choosing favorites, each singing parts. “Our God Shall Come” always seemed a special one. At the end of worship, different pretty Sabbath aprons were donned and tea served. Friday night tea was always salad, just like it had been at college.

Train Up a Child

Children absorb these details, and they remember the standards and the explanations that are told to them. The secret is consistency week by week. This gives security and purpose to the plan of life that God has given us. This preparation shows the importance and joy of the Sabbath, and the weekly anticipation adds to the reverence of the Sabbath day itself.

At home the ‘scenty drawer’ is still there on the left-hand side of the dressing table. When the clocks changed for the summer, it seemed to put out all the routines for us all. My mother phoned and said she had had a difficult Friday, and as a result, the wash hand basin, usually the last job now before Sabbath, had not been cleaned, and she did not feel right. Suddenly the time gap of 50 years had been bridged, the preparation was still vital, and my mother’s words prompted me to still higher standards about the Sabbath and the importance of our day with God.

Is Your Home Ready for the Holy Appointment?

[Editor’s Note: How is your Sabbath preparation? Have we become lax in the way we approach God’s holy hours? Perhaps this will give us a little nudge to make sure that we are “ready” in all aspects of our life when the Sabbath hours approach every week.]

Remember The Sabbath Day . . . Part II

There must be a reform among God’s people in the observance of Sabbath-keeping.

The Holy Spirit must be allowed to convict us individually of our duty to God, not to man, in keeping His Sabbath. We must raise the standard of God high, exalting the Sabbath to its rightful position.

Ellen White wrote: “The Sabbath is a golden clasp that unites God and His people. But the Sabbath command has been broken. God’s holy day has been desecrated. The Sabbath has been torn from its place by the man of sin, and a common working day has been exalted in its stead. A breach has been made in the law, and this breach is to be repaired. The true Sabbath is to be exalted to its rightful position as God’s rest day.” Testimonies, vol. 6, 351, 352.

“And [they that shall be] of thee shall build the old waste places: thou shalt raise up the foundations of many generations; and thou shalt be called, The repairer of the breach, The restorer of paths to dwell in.” Isaiah 58:12.

We must, as a church, restore the waste places—restudy the things once taught us—making sure that we, and what we have been taught, are grounded in the faith once delivered to the saints.

Uplift the Standard

“The Sabbath question is to be the issue in the great final conflict in which all the world will act a part. Men have honored Satan’s principles above the principles that rule in the heavens. They have accepted the spurious sabbath, which Satan has exalted as the sign of his authority. But God has set His seal upon His royal requirement. Each sabbath institution bears the name of its author, an ineffaceable mark that shows the authority of each. It is our work to lead the people to understand this. We are to show them that it is of vital consequence whether they bear the mark of God’s kingdom or the mark of the kingdom of rebellion, for they acknowledge themselves subjects of the kingdom whose mark they bear. God has called us to uplift the standard of His downtrodden Sabbath. How important, then, that our example in Sabbath-keeping should be right.

“In establishing new churches, ministers should give careful instruction as to the proper observance of the Sabbath. We must be guarded, lest the lax practices that prevail among Sunday-keepers shall be followed by those who profess to observe God’s holy rest day. The line of demarcation is to be made clear and distinct between those who bear the mark of God’s kingdom and those who bear the sign of the kingdom of rebellion.

“Far more sacredness is attached to the Sabbath than is given it by many professed Sabbath-keepers. The Lord has been greatly dishonored by those who have not kept the Sabbath according to the commandment, either in the letter or in the spirit. He calls for a reform in the observance of the Sabbath.” Testimonies, vol. 6, 352, 353.

Reform Necessary

There must be a reform; we must begin it today! It is of vital importance that we, as God’s professed people, understand the true meaning of the Sabbath. Character perfection must be a steady movement toward reflecting Christ more fully and completely. If we stand still in faith, if we neglect the needful study—especially in this day and age—we will lose the light that has been given to us. But if we move forward, from victory on to victory, by faith, prayer, study and patience, the Holy Spirit will lead us into all truth. (See John 16:13.) But a word of warning, let us not make the Sabbath a burden, as did the Pharisees.

“If thou turn away thy foot from the sabbath, [from] doing thy pleasure on my holy day; and call the Sabbath a delight, the holy of the Lord, honourable; and shalt honour him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking [thine own] words: Then shalt thou delight thyself in the Lord; and I will cause thee to ride upon the high places of the earth, and feed thee with the heritage of Jacob thy father: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken [it].” Isaiah 58:13, 14.

This is why it is important that we, as true and faithful Seventh-day Adventists, learn the necessity of Sabbath preparation—physically and spiritually.

Daily Preparation

“All through the week we are to have the Sabbath in mind and be making preparation to keep it according to the commandment. We are not merely to observe the Sabbath as a legal matter. We are to understand its spiritual bearing upon all the transactions of life. All who regard the Sabbath as a sign between them and God, showing that He is the God who sanctifies them, will represent the principles of His government. They will bring into daily practice the laws of His kingdom. Daily it will be their prayer that the sanctification of the Sabbath may rest upon them. Every day they will have the companionship of Christ and will exemplify the perfection of His character. Every day their light will shine forth to others in good works.” Testimonies, vol. 6, 353, 354. The Sabbath is not merely to be kept by the letter but by the spirit, willfully wanting to observe the Sabbath—a Sabbath that is not a burden.

“When the Sabbath is thus remembered, the temporal will not be allowed to encroach upon the spiritual. No duty pertaining to the six working days will be left for the Sabbath. During the week our energies will not be so exhausted in temporal labor that on the day when the Lord rested and was refreshed we shall be too weary to engage in His service.” Ibid., 354.

This is an important key point of which many of us have been guilty. How many times have we rushed throughout the week, working 10 to 15 hours a day, then when Sabbath comes we cannot stay awake for the Sabbath school and church service?

Preparation Begins at Home

“In all that pertains to the success of God’s work, the very first victories are to be won in the home life. Here the preparation for the Sabbath must begin. Throughout the week let parents remember that their home is to be a school in which their children shall be prepared for the courts above. Let their words be right words. No words which their children should not hear are to escape their lips. Let the spirit be kept free from irritation. Parents, during the week live as in the sight of a holy God, who has given you children to train for Him. Train for Him the little church in your home, that on the Sabbath all may be prepared to worship in the Lord’s sanctuary. Each morning and evening present your children to God as His blood-bought heritage. Teach them that it is their highest duty and privilege to love and serve God.

“Parents should be particular to make the worship of God an object lesson for their children. Passages of Scripture should be more often on their lips, especially those passages that prepare the heart for religious service. The precious words might well be often repeated: ‘My soul, wait thou only upon God; for my expectation is from Him.’ Psalm 62:5.” Ibid.

“Explain your work and its purpose to your children, and let them help themselves and their parents in their preparation to keep the Sabbath according to the commandment. Lead your children to consider the Sabbath a delight, the day of days, the holy of the Lord, honorable.” Manuscript Releases, vol. 13, 293.

Daily morning and evening worship is very, very important for not only spending time with God, but for teaching our children the importance of reverence, not just in family worship but also in the Sabbath school and church services.

“While preparation for the Sabbath is to be made all through the week, Friday is to be the special preparation day.” Testimonies, vol. 6, 354.

Scriptural Example

Let us look at an example from the Bible as to how we must prepare for the Sabbath. “And they took their journey from Elim, and all the congregation of the children of Israel came unto the wilderness of Sin, which [is] between Elim and Sinai, on the fifteenth day of the second month after their departing out of the land of Egypt. And the whole congregation of the children of Israel murmured against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness: And the children of Israel said unto them, Would to God we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the flesh pots, [and] when we did eat bread to the full; for ye have brought us forth into this wilderness, to kill this whole assembly with hunger. Then said the Lord unto Moses, Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you; and the people shall go out and gather a certain rate every day, that I may prove them, whether they will walk in my law, or no. And it shall come to pass, that on the sixth day they shall prepare [that] which they bring in; and it shall be twice as much as they gather daily.” Exodus 16:1–5. God instructed them to pick up and prepare their food daily, but on the sixth they were to pick up a double portion and prepare it also for the Sabbath.

“And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, I have heard the murmurings of the children of Israel: speak unto them, saying, At even ye shall eat flesh, and in the morning ye shall be filled with bread; and ye shall know that I [am] the Lord your God. And it came to pass, that at even the quails came up, and covered the camp: and in the morning the dew lay round about the host. And when the dew that lay was gone up, behold, upon the face of the wilderness [there lay] a small round thing, [as] small as the hoar frost on the ground. And when the children of Israel saw [it], they said one to another, It [is] manna: for they wist not what it [was]. And Moses said unto them, This [is] the bread which the Lord hath given you to eat. This [is] the thing which the Lord hath commanded, Gather of it every man according to his eating, an omer for every man, [according to] the number of your persons; take ye every man for [them] which [are] in his tents.” Verses 11–16.

“And Moses said, Let no man leave of it till the morning. Notwithstanding they hearkened not unto Moses; but some of them left of it until the morning, and it bred worms, and stank: and Moses was wroth with them. And they gathered it every morning, every man according to his eating: and when the sun waxed hot, it melted. And it came to pass, [that] on the sixth day they gathered twice as much bread, two omers for one [man]: and all the rulers of the congregation came and told Moses. And he said unto them, This [is that] which the Lord hath said, To morrow [is] the rest of the holy sabbath unto the Lord: bake [that] which ye will bake [to day], and seethe that ye will seethe; and that which remaineth over lay up for you to be kept until the morning. And they laid it up till the morning, as Moses bade: and it did not stink, neither was there any worm therein. And Moses said, Eat that to day; for to day [is] a sabbath unto the Lord: to day ye shall not find it in the field. Six days ye shall gather it; but on the seventh day, [which is] the Sabbath, in it there shall be none. And it came to pass, [that] there went out [some] of the people on the seventh day for to gather, and they found none.” Verses 19–27.

“[And] the people went about, and gathered [it], and ground [it] in mills, or beat [it] in a mortar, and baked [it] in pans, and made cakes of it: and the taste of it was as the taste of fresh oil.” Numbers 11:8.

Preparation Includes . . .

“There was something to be done in preparing the heaven-sent bread for the children of Israel. The Lord told them that this work must be done on Friday, the preparation day. This was a test to them. God desired to see whether or not they would keep the Sabbath holy.

“This direction from the lips of Jehovah is for our instruction. The Bible is a perfect guide, and if its pages are prayerfully studied by hearts willing to understand, none need err upon this question.

“Many need instruction as to how they should appear in the assembly for worship on the Sabbath. They are not to enter the presence of God in the common clothing worn during the week. All should have a special Sabbath suit, to be worn when attending service in God’s house. While we should not conform to worldly fashions, we are not to be indifferent in regard to our outward appearance. We are to be neat and trim, though without adornment. The children of God should be pure within and without.

“On Friday let the preparation for the Sabbath be completed. See that all the clothing is in readiness and that all the cooking is done. Let the boots be blacked and the baths be taken. It is possible to do this. If you make it a rule you can do it. The Sabbath is not to be given to the repairing of garments, to the cooking of food, to pleasure seeking, or to any other worldly employment. Before the setting of the sun let all secular work be laid aside and all secular papers be put out of sight. Parents, explain your work and its purpose to your children, and let them share in your preparation to keep the Sabbath according to the commandment.

“We should jealously guard the edges of the Sabbath. Remember that every moment is consecrated, holy time.” Testimonies, vol. 6, 356.

Do not miss the Blessing

“The Sabbath should be as sacredly observed on the campground as it is in our homes. We should not let the bustle and excitement around us detract from its sacred dignity. No cooking should be done on that day. The instruction which God gave to Israel should not be disregarded: ‘Bake that which ye will bake today, and seethe that ye will seethe’: ‘Tomorrow is the rest of the holy Sabbath unto the Lord’ [Exodus 16:23]. God meant what He said when He gave these directions, and shall we, who are presenting to the people the claims of the divine law, break that law ourselves, merely to please the appetite? God forbid. There has sometimes been almost as much cooking done on the Sabbath as on other days; and the blessing of God has been shut out by our failure to honor Him in keeping the Sabbath according to the commandment.—Undated Manuscript 88.” Manuscript Releases, vol. 13, 293, 294.

“Speak not lightly of the restrictions placed upon Israel in Sinai regarding the cooking of manna. The Lord has placed barriers around His Sabbath, that it may not be regarded with the least carelessness or irreverence. When the Lord said, ‘Tomorrow is the rest of the holy Sabbath; bake that which ye will bake today, and seethe that which ye will seethe,’ He means that Friday shall be our preparation day, in which we are to do all our cooking.

“The Sabbath is not to be a day when tidbits shall be prepared or cooked. If it is really essential to have beans on the Sabbath, let them be cooked on Friday, and kept warm in the oven. They need not be eaten cold unless preferred. But let no remarks be made as though it is a very light thing whether we regard the special requirements of God in regard to the Sabbath or not. It is not left for any man or woman to venture to disregard any commandment of God—Manuscript 21, 1897.” Ibid., 294, 295.

The preparation of food on the Sabbath is breaking God’s precepts, and this is not to be lightly regarded by commandment-keepers.

“All needful preparation should be made beforehand. On Sabbath morning, if the weather is cool, let hot gruel, or something equally simple, be provided, and for dinner some kind of food may be warmed. Further than this, all cooking should be avoided as a violation of the Sabbath command.” The Gospel of Health, April 1, 1898.

Avoid Intemperance

Do we eat more on the Sabbath day than we normally do on the other days? Is this not wrong of us?

“We should not provide for the Sabbath a more liberal supply or a greater variety of food than for other days. Instead of this the food should be more simple, and less should be eaten, in order that the mind may be clear and vigorous to comprehend spiritual things. Overeating befogs the brain. The most precious words may be heard and not appreciated, because the mind is confused by an improper diet. By overeating on the Sabbath, many have done more than they think to dishonor God.

“While cooking upon the Sabbath should be avoided, it is not necessary to eat cold food. In cold weather let the food prepared the day before be heated. And let the meals, though simple, be palatable and attractive. Provide something that will be regarded as a treat, something the family do not have every day.” Testimonies, vol. 6, 357.

“I see no question in this matter as to what we shall have on the Sabbath day. The food which we have provided on the preparation day can be placed on the table warm, especially in cold weather. In traveling, persons eat cold lunches for days together, and realize no inconvenience or harm. We want palatable, healthful food every day of the week; but upon the Sabbath, let your cook have her day of rest, in the place of cooking for a family. Let every provision be made on Friday. But do not let the Sabbath be regarded as a day in which to get something especially gratifying to eat. Educate your children and every member of the family to enjoy plain, simple food, and to be ready to receive the blessing which the Lord of the Sabbath is waiting to bestow upon all who are in an attitude to receive it. He has this for every one who shows his love for God in keeping holy the Sabbath day, God’s great memorial of creation. Speak softly, walk softly. Let not a word of lightness or trifling come from your lips. This is God’s day. He has blessed the seventh day, as His Sabbath, to be sacredly observed.” Review and Herald, June 8, 1897.

Put Away Differences

Another special instruction has been given to us. All difference between brothers and sisters in the church of Christ, and even those not of our faith, should be put away. There should be a close examination of the heart of the past week, a confessing of sin before the Sabbath begins.

“There needs to be much more close investigation of the week past. Review it and see if, as a branch of the living Vine, you have drawn nourishment from the parent Vine to bear much fruit to the glory of God. If there has been feverish excitement, if hasty words have been spoken, if passion has been revealed, these have surely been the working on Satan’s side of the question. Clear the heart by confession. Sincerely make everything right before the Sabbath. Examine your own selves, whether ye be in the faith. We need to guard our own souls constantly, lest we make a great profession but, like the flourishing fig tree spreading its branches in pretentious foliage, reveal no precious fruit. Christ is hungering to see and receive fruit. Leaves of profession without fruit are to Christ just as worthless as those of the fig tree which He cursed. . . .” That I May Know Him, 147.

“There is another work that should receive attention on the preparation day. On this day all differences between brethren, whether in the family or in the church, should be put away. Let all bitterness and wrath and malice be expelled from the soul. In a humble spirit, ‘confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed.’ James 5:16.” Testimonies, vol. 6, 356.

“When difficulties arise among church-members, let them be cleared away before the Sabbath comes. This should be regarded as a Christian duty by every church-member. ‘Let the peace of God rule in your hearts, and be ye thankful.’ Are you troubled and perplexed? Sweep away the rubbish that has been accumulating before the door of the heart, and open the door, inviting Jesus to come in and abide as an honored Guest. Bring peace and comfort into your own hearts and the hearts of others.” Australasian Union Conference Record, April 15, 1903.

To be continued . . .

Remember The Sabbath Day . . . Part III

Before the Sabbath begins, all business should be set aside. No new business should be started. Could it be that our minds might drift away from the holy to the common?

“This day [Friday] is preparation day. We would come up to the Sabbath with our work closed up in proper shape and not dragging into the Sabbath. We must commence in the morning to look after every piece of clothing if we have neglected to do this through the week, that our garments may be neat and orderly and comely to appear in the place where God’s people assemble to worship Him. . . . Entering upon new business should be avoided, if possible, but endeavor to close up the things already started that are half accomplished. Prepare everything connected with the household matters so that there shall be free-dom from worries, and the mind be prepared to rest and to meditate upon heavenly things.” That I May Know Him, 147.

“The day before the Sabbath should be made a day of preparation, that everything may be in readiness for its sacred hours. In no case should our own business be allowed to encroach upon holy time. God has directed that the sick and suffering be cared for; the labor required to make them comfortable is a work of mercy, and no violation of the Sabbath; but all unnecessary work should be avoided. Many carelessly put off till the beginning of the Sabbath little things that might have been done on the day of preparation. This should not be. Work that is neglected until the beginning of the Sabbath should remain undone until it is past. This course might help the memory of these thoughtless ones, and make them careful to do their own work on the six working days.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 296.

“Before the Sabbath begins, the mind as well as the body should be withdrawn from worldly business. God has set His Sabbath at the end of the six working days, that men may stop and consider what they have gained during the week in preparation for the pure kingdom which admits no transgressor. We should each Sabbath reckon with our souls to see whether the week that has ended has brought spiritual gain or loss.

It means eternal salvation to keep the Sabbath holy unto the Lord. God says: ‘Them that honor Me I will honor.’ 1 Samuel 2:30.” Testimonies, vol. 6, 356.

Special instruction has also been given on how to prepare for the Sabbath to those who have their own business and employees. Some will say that those business owners who close half the day on Friday and on Sabbath, these being the busiest days of the week, are losing out on a lot of business. I was told by a minister in Cleveland, Tennessee, that the owner of Chik-fil-A requires new franchise owners to agree to be closed on Sundays. [“Chick-fil-A has remained moored to its core values: ethical and spiritual tomes extolled by the company’s founder, S. Truett Cathy. . . . That corporate guidepost is perhaps most visibly demonstrated by the company’s ‘Never on Sunday’ policy. ‘We feel that is a very special day, a divine day, a day that is set aside for the family and to worship if you choose,’ says Cathy. Cathy has never yielded to external pressures to abandon his ‘Never on Sunday’ policy . . . .” Erica Stephens, “Divine—And Bovine—Intervention,” QSR, August 2002, (cited August 12, 2002).] The minister went on to say that God had richly blessed Chik-fil-A’s owner because of what he did. Now the question is, would not God sustain His people if they were truly devoted to Him? “Them that honor Me I will honor.” Remember that!

“Whenever it is possible, employers should give their workers the hours [off] from Friday noon until the beginning of the Sabbath. Give them time for preparation, that they may welcome the Lord’s day with quietness of mind. By such a course you will suffer no loss even in temporal things.” Testimonies, vol. 6, 356.

Reform Needed

“Before the setting of the sun, let the members of the family assemble to read God’s Word, to sing and pray. There is need of reform here, for many have been remiss. We need to confess to God and to one another. We should begin anew to make special arrangements that every member of the family may be prepared to honor the day which God has blessed and sanctified.” Child Guidance, 529.

Special instruction should be given our children on what is to be done on Sabbath morning.

“Let not the precious hours of the Sabbath be wasted in bed. On Sabbath morning the family should be astir early. If they rise late, there is confusion and bustle in preparing for breakfast and Sabbath school. There is hurrying, jostling, and impatience. Thus unholy feelings come into the home. The Sabbath, thus desecrated, becomes a weariness, and its coming is dreaded rather than loved.” Testimonies, vol. 6, 357.

Keeping the Sabbath Holy

“Do not allow yourself to spend the precious hours of the Sabbath in your bed. The heads of the house should be astir early. . . .

“In the morning the family should gather about the table quietly; and it would be well if on the Sabbath there should ever be a simple, palatable meal, yet something that would be considered a treat, well prepared—something that they do not have every day of the week. Then either before or after the meal should come the family worship. This should be a service in which the children can take some part. All should have their Bibles, each reading a verse or two. Then a simple hymn may be sung, followed, not by a long, wearisome prayer, but a simple petition, telling the Lord in the simplest manner the needs [of the family], and expressing gratitude for God’s mercies and blessings. This invites Jesus as a welcome guest into your house and heart. In the family long prayers of remote things are not in place and make the hour of prayer a weariness, when it should be considered a privilege and a blessing. Make the season one of interest and joy. Never let the children consider it a burden.—Manuscript 57, 1897.” Manuscript Releases, vol. 13, 293.

Do Not be Late for Church

All should learn to be on time for church, setting a right example to others and especially to the children.

Mrs. White addressed this issue in the Youth’s Instructor, March 19, 1879: “It is a sad failing with many that they are always behind time on Sabbath morning. They are very particular about their own time, they cannot afford to lose an hour of that; but the Lord’s time, the only day out of the seven that the Lord claims as his, and requires us to devote to him, quite a portion of this is squandered away by sleeping late in the morning. In this they are robbing God. It causes them to be behind in everything; it makes confusion in the family; and finally results in the tardiness of the entire family at Sabbath school, and perhaps at meeting. Now why can we not rise early with the birds, and offer praise and thanksgiving to God? Try it brethren and sisters. Have your preparations all made the day before, and come promptly to the Sabbath school and meeting, and you will thereby not only benefit others but you will reap rich blessings for yourselves.”

It is interesting how we are able to get up during the week to go to work, or go somewhere that we want to go, and be there on time. But we seem to have a hard time being at the appointed place of worship on Sabbath on time.

In the Review and Herald, May 30, 1871, Mrs. White wrote: “Meetings for conference and prayer should not be made tedious. All should, if possible, be prompt to the hour appointed; and if there are dilatory ones, who are half an hour or fifteen minutes even behind the time, there should be no waiting. If there are but two present, they can claim the promise. The meeting should open at the appointed hour, if possible, be there few or many present.”

Sabbath Thoughts and Words

“When the Sabbath commences, we should place a guard upon ourselves, upon our acts and our words, lest we rob God by appropriating to our own use that time which is strictly the Lord’s. We should not do ourselves, nor suffer our children to do, any manner of our own work for a livelihood or anything which could have been done on the six working days. Friday is the day of preparation. Time can then be devoted to making the necessary preparation for the Sabbath and to thinking and conversing about it. Nothing which will in the sight of Heaven be regarded as a violation of the holy Sabbath should be left unsaid or undone, to be said or done upon the Sabbath. God requires not only that we refrain from physical labor upon the Sabbath, but that the mind be disciplined to dwell upon sacred themes. The Fourth Commandment is virtually transgressed by conversing upon worldly things or by engaging in light and trifling conversation. Talking upon anything or everything which may come into the mind is speaking our own words. Every deviation from right brings us into bondage and condemnation.” Child Guidance, 529, 530.

“Those who wish to be blest and approved of the Lord in this world, and who expect to finally be saved, and have right to the tree of life, must keep the Sabbath holy. They should pray daily for grace and wisdom to keep from polluting it in any way. . . .

“Are you as careful as you should be in keeping the Sabbath? You have something to do besides laying aside your work and amusements on that day. If you, on that day, lay plans of what you will do when the Sabbath is past, or talk of your work, amusements and clothes, you pollute the Sabbath. . . .

“When you are speaking of your hope in God, of Jesus and of his soon coming, and of the beauties of the New Earth, you are not speaking your own words. Of these things you may freely speak on the Sabbath. On six days you may talk of business matters, and lay plans that are necessary; but the Sabbath is holy time, and all worldly thoughts must, on that day, be dismissed from the mind. The blessing of God will then rest upon you, and you will have the sweet consolations of His Spirit, and you will also have confidence when you approach the throne of grace.” Youth’s Instructor, February 1, 1853.

Parents’ Example

Fathers and mothers should attend Sabbath school and church services with their children, thus setting a right example. Many times I have seen fathers, and even mothers, send their children to church alone.

“Fathers and mothers should make it a rule that their children attend public worship on the Sabbath, and should enforce the rule by their own example. It is our duty to command our children and our household after us, as did Abraham. By example as well as precept we should impress upon them the importance of religious teaching. All who have taken the baptismal vow have solemnly consecrated themselves to the service of God; they are under covenant obligation to place themselves and their children where they may obtain all possible incentives and encouragement in the Christian life.

“But while we worship God, we are not to consider this a drudgery. The Sabbath of the Lord is to be made a blessing to us and to our children. They are to look upon the Sabbath as a day of delight, a day which God has sanctified; and they will so consider it if they are properly instructed.” Child Guidance, 530, 531.

No Nap!

“None should permit themselves, through the week, to become so absorbed in their temporal interests, and so exhausted by their efforts for worldly gain, that on the Sabbath they have no strength or energy to give to the service of God. We are robbing the Lord when we unfit ourselves to worship Him upon His holy day. And we are robbing ourselves as well; for we need the warmth and glow of association, as well as the strength to be gained from the wisdom and experience of other Christians.” Ibid., 530.

“Let none come to the place of worship to take a nap. There should be no sleeping in the house of God. You do not fall asleep when engaged in your temporal business, because you have an interest in your work. Shall we allow the service which involves eternal interests to be placed on a lower level than the temporal affairs of life?

“When we do this we miss the blessing which the Lord designs us to have. The Sabbath is not to be a day of useless idleness. Both in the home and in the church a spirit of service is to be manifested. He who gave us six days for our temporal work has blessed and sanctified the seventh day and set it apart for Himself. On this day He will in a special manner bless all who consecrate themselves to His service.

“All heaven is keeping the Sabbath, but not in a listless, do-nothing way. On this day every energy of the soul should be awake, for are we not to meet with God and with Christ our Saviour? We may behold Him by faith. He is longing to refresh and bless every soul.” Testimonies, vol. 6, 361, 362.

Irreverence in God’s House

The Sabbath has also been broken by our disregard and irreverence in the house of God. We have lost the sense that God is present when we worship Him.

“Now Moses kept the flock of Jethro his father in law, the priest of Midian: and he led the flock to the backside of the desert, and came to the mountain of God, [even] to Horeb. And the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush: and he looked, and, behold, the bush burned with fire, and the bush [was] not consumed. And Moses said, I will now turn aside, and see this great sight, why the bush is not burnt. And when the Lord saw that he turned aside to see, God called unto him out of the midst of the bush, and said, Moses, Moses. And he said, Here [am] I. And he said, Draw not nigh hither: put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest [is] holy ground. Moreover he said, I [am] the God of thy father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. And Moses hid his face; for he was afraid to look upon God.” Exodus 3:1–6.

“God is greatly to be feared in the assembly of the saints, and to be had in reverence of all [them that are] about him.” Psalm 89:7.

“It is too true that reverence for the house of God has become almost extinct. Sacred things and places are not discerned; the holy and exalted are not appreciated. . . . Many who profess to be children of the heavenly King have no true appreciation of the sacredness of eternal things. Nearly all need to be taught how to conduct themselves in the house of God. . . . In the minds of many there are no more sacred thoughts connected with the house of God than with the most common place. . . . Such do not realize that they are to meet with God and holy angels. . . . They have no true idea of the order, the neatness, and the refined deportment that God requires of all who come into His presence to worship Him. . . . Unless correct ideas of true worship and true reverence are impressed upon the people, there will be a growing tendency to place the sacred and eternal on a level with common things, and those professing the truth will be an offense to God and a disgrace to religion. They can never, with their uncultivated ideas, appreciate a pure and holy heaven, and be prepared to join with the worshipers in the heavenly courts above, where all is purity and perfection, where every being has perfect reverence for God and His holiness.” Testimonies, vol. 5, 495–498, 500.

True Reverence

Another precious grace that should be carefully cherished is reverence. True reverence for God is inspired by a sense of His infinite greatness and a realization of His presence. With this sense of the Unseen the heart of every child should be deeply impressed. The hour and place of prayer and the services of public worship the child should be taught to regard as sacred because God is there. And as reverence is manifested in attitude and demeanor, the feeling that inspires it will be deepened.

“Well would it be for young and old to study and ponder and often repeat those words of Holy Writ that show how the place marked by God’s special presence should be regarded.” My Life Today, 281.

“Humility and reverence should characterize the deportment of all who come into the presence of God. In the name of Jesus we may come before Him with confidence, but we must not approach Him with the boldness of presumption, as though He were on a level with ourselves. There are those who address the great and all-powerful and holy God, who dwelleth in light unapproachable, as they would address an equal, or even an inferior. There are those who conduct themselves in His house as they would not presume to do in the audience chamber of an earthly ruler. These should remember that they are in His sight whom seraphim adore, before whom angels veil their faces. God is greatly to be reverenced; all who truly realize His presence will bow in humility before Him.” Ibid.

Once we really understand reverence, we will also understand where two or three are gathered in His name, there He is in the midst of them. (Matthew 18:20.) Does it take a church building for God to be there, or could He be present in the closet, in home worship, and even in a home church?

“God is high and holy; and to the humble, believing soul, His house on earth, the place where His people meet for worship, is as the gate of heaven. The song of praise, the words spoken by Christ’s ministers, are God’s appointed agencies to prepare a people for the church above, for that loftier worship.

“When the worshipers enter the place of meeting, they should do so with decorum, passing quietly to their seats. . . . Common talking, whispering, and laughing should not be permitted in the house of worship, either before or after the service. Ardent, active piety should characterize the worshipers.

“If some have to wait a few minutes before the meeting begins, let them maintain a true spirit of devotion by silent meditation, keeping the heart uplifted to God in prayer that the service may be of special benefit to their own hearts and lead to the conviction and conversion of other souls. They should remember that heavenly messengers are in the house. We all lose much sweet communion with God by our restlessness, by not encouraging moments of reflection and prayer. . . .

“Elevate the standard of Christianity in the minds of your children; help them to weave Jesus into their experience; teach them to have the highest reverence for the house of God and to understand that when they enter the Lord’s house it should be with hearts that are softened and subdued by such thoughts as these: ‘God is here; this is His house. I must have pure thoughts and holiest motives. . . . This is the place where God meets with and blesses His people.’ . . .

Parents should not only teach, but command, their children to enter the sanctuary with sobriety and reverence. Practice reverence until it becomes a part of yourself.” Ibid., 286.

[All Emphasis Supplied.]