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.]

Bible Study Guides – From Sunset to Sunset

December 17, 2006 – December 23, 2006

Key Text

“He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much.” Luke 16:10.

Study Help: Patriarchs and Prophets, 295, 296; Testimonies, vol. 1, 531–533.


“God is no less particular now in regard to his Sabbath than when he made this requirement of the children of Israel.” The Spirit of Prophecy, vol. 1, 259.

“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. . . . 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.

“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.’ [James 5:16.]

“Before the setting of the sun let the members of the family assemble to read God’s Word, to sing and pray.

“We should jealously guard the edges of the Sabbath. Remember that every moment is consecrated, holy time.” The Faith I Live By, 34.

1 What is the biblical reckoning of the beginning and end of a day? Genesis 1:5, 8, 13, 19, 23, 31.

2 The Bible gives a number of examples of how the faithful have observed the Sabbath from the Creation (Genesis 2:1–3), in the time of Israel (Leviticus 23:32), during the post-captivity Reformation (Nehemiah 13:19), and all the way to the time of Christ (John 19:31).

note: “At last Jesus was at rest. The long day of shame and torture was ended. As the last rays of the setting sun ushered in the Sabbath, the Son of God lay in quietude in Joseph’s tomb. His work completed, His hands folded in peace, He rested through the sacred hours of the Sabbath day.” The Desire of Ages, 769.

“The Sabbath was now drawing on, and it would be a violation of its sanctity for the bodies to hang upon the cross. So, using this as a pretext, the leading Jews requested Pilate that the death of the victims might be hastened, and their bodies be removed before the setting of the sun.” Ibid., 771.

“Gently and reverently they removed with their own hands the body of Jesus from the cross. Their tears of sympathy fell fast as they looked upon His bruised and lacerated form. Joseph owned a new tomb, hewn in a rock. This he was reserving for himself; but it was near Calvary, and he now prepared it for Jesus. The body, together with the spices brought by Nicodemus, was carefully wrapped in a linen sheet, and the Redeemer was borne to the tomb. There the three disciples straightened the mangled limbs, and folded the bruised hands upon the pulseless breast. The Galilean women came to see that all had been done that could be done for the lifeless form of their beloved Teacher. Then they saw the heavy stone rolled against the entrance of the tomb, and the Saviour was left at rest. The women were last at the cross, and last at the tomb of Christ. While the evening shades were gathering, Mary Magdalene and the other Marys lingered about the resting place of their Lord, shedding tears of sorrow over the fate of Him whom they loved. ‘And they returned, . . . and rested the Sabbath day according to the commandment.’ Luke 23:56.” Ibid., 774.

3 How important is it that we do not encroach on any of the Lord’s time on the Sabbath day? Luke 19:17; 16:10.

note: “God is no less particular now in regard to his Sabbath than when he made this requirement of the children of Israel. His eye is upon all his people, and over all the works of their hands. He will not pass by unnoticed those who crowd upon his Sabbath, and employ time for their own use which belongs to him. Some professed Sabbath-keepers will intrude upon the Sabbath in doing those things which should have been done previous to the Sabbath. Such may think they gain a little time; but instead of being advantaged by robbing God of holy time, which he has reserved to himself, they will lose.” The Spirit of Prophecy, vol. 1, 259.

“There has been too much slackness in regard to the observance of the Sabbath. There has not been promptness to fulfill the secular duties within the six working days which God has given to man and carefulness not to infringe upon one hour of the holy, sacred time which He has reserved to Himself. . . . Transgress in a small matter, and look upon it as no particular sin on our part, and the conscience becomes hardened, the sensibilities blunted, until we can go still further and perform quite an amount of labor and still flatter ourselves that we are Sabbathkeepers, when, according to Christ’s standard, we are breaking every one of God’s holy precepts. There is a fault with Sabbathkeepers in this respect; but God is very particular, and all who think that they are saving a little time, or advantaging themselves by infringing a little on the Lord’s time, will meet with loss sooner or later. He cannot bless them as it would be His pleasure to do, for His name is dishonored by them, His precepts lightly esteemed.” Testimonies, vol. 1, 531, 532.

4 How can we be sure that we will not infringe on the sacred time of the Sabbath?

note: “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.” Testimonies, vol. 6, 356.

5 What time has God given us to be prepared to keep His Sabbath according to the commandment? Mark 15:42; Luke 23:52–56.

note: “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.

“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.

6 What should we consider when planning for our temporal needs on the Sabbath? Exodus 16:23.

note: “The Lord is no less particular now in regard to his Sabbath, than when he gave the foregoing special directions to the children of Israel. He required them to bake that which they would bake, and seethe (that is, boil) that which they would seethe, on the sixth day, preparatory to the rest of the Sabbath. Those who neglect to prepare for the Sabbath on the sixth day, and who cook food upon the Sabbath, violate the fourth commandment, and are transgressors of God’s law. All who are really anxious to observe the Sabbath according to the commandment, will not cook any food upon the Sabbath. They will, in the fear of that God who gave his law from Sinai, deny themselves, and eat food prepared upon the sixth day, even if it is not so palatable. God forbade the children of Israel’s baking and boiling upon the Sabbath. That prohibition should be regarded by every Sabbath-keeper, as a solemn injunction from Jehovah to them. The Lord would guard his people from indulging in gluttony upon the Sabbath, which he has set apart for sacred meditation and worship.” The Spirit of Prophecy, vol. 1, 225, 226.

7 Since we desire to come into the presence of the Lord on the Sabbath, how should we present ourselves before Him? Exodus 19:9–11.

note: “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.” Child Guidance, 528.

8 How should our dress be when we come into the presence of the Lord on His holy Sabbath day? Leviticus 19:30; Hebrews 12:28, 29; Genesis 35:2.

note: “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.” Child Guidance, 531.

“Especial care will be taken to dress in a manner that will show a sacred regard for the holy Sabbath, and the worship of God. The line of demarkation between such a class and the world will be too plain to be mistaken. The influence of believers would be ten-fold greater if men and women who embrace the truth, who have been formerly careless and slack in their habits, would be so elevated, and sanctified through the truth, as to observe habits of neatness, order, and good taste in their dress. Our God is a God of order, and he is not in any degree pleased with distraction, with filthiness, or with sin.” Selected Messages, Book 2, 476.

9 On the Sabbath, how should our homes be prepared to welcome the heavenly angels into them? 1 Corinthians 14:33, 40; Ezekiel 44:23.

note: “The ten commandments spoken by Jehovah from Sinai can not live in the hearts of persons of disorderly, filthy habits. If ancient Israel could not so much as listen to the proclamation of that holy law, unless they had obeyed the injunction of Jehovah, and cleansed their clothing, how can that sacred law be written upon the hearts of persons who are not cleanly in person, in clothing, or in their houses?—It is impossible. Their profession may be as high as heaven, yet it is not worth a straw. Their influence disgusts unbelievers. Better if they had ever remained outside the ranks of God’s loyal people. The house of God is dishonored by such professors.” Review and Herald, January 23, 1900.

“He who was so particular that the children of Israel should cherish habits of cleanliness, will not sanction any impurity in the homes of his people today. God looks with disfavor on uncleanness of any kind. How can we invite him into our homes unless all is neat and clean and pure?

“Believers should be taught that even though they may be poor, they need not be uncleanly or untidy in their persons or in their homes. Help must be given in this line to those who seem to have no sense of the meaning and importance of cleanliness. They are to be taught that those who are to represent the high and holy God must keep their souls pure and clean, and that this purity must extend to their dress, and to everything in the home, so that the ministering angels will have evidence that the truth has wrought a change in the life, purifying the soul and refining the tastes. Those who, after receiving the truth, make no change in word or deportment, in dress or surroundings, are living to themselves, not to Christ. They have not been created anew in Christ Jesus, unto purification and holiness.” Ibid., June 10, 1902.

10 What did Jesus teach about the small details? Luke 24:1–3; John 20:7.

Personal Review

Guarding the Edges—“We should jealously guard the edges of the Sabbath. Remember that every moment is consecrated, holy time. Whenever it is possible, employers should give their workers the hours 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.

The Preparation Day—“Let every family of Seventh-day Adventists honor God by a strict regard for his law. The children should be taught to respect the Sabbath. On the day of preparation, clothing should be put in proper repair, shoes polished, baths taken. Then around the family altar all should wait to welcome God’s holy day, as they would watch for the coming of a dear friend.” The Signs of the Times, May 25, 1882.

“At the very beginning of the fourth commandment the Lord said, ‘Remember.’ He knew that amid the multitude of cares and perplexities man would be tempted to excuse himself from meeting the full requirement of the law, or would forget its sacred importance. Therefore He said: ‘Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.’ [Exodus 20:8.]

“All through the week we are to have the Sabbath in mind and be making preparation to keep it according to the commandment. . . .

“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.” The Faith I Live By, 34.

Reprinted with permission, Reformation Herald Publishing Association, Roanoke Virginia, 2003.