Skip main navigation

Sabbath Traditions

Sabbath Traditions
As a convert to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I had grown up with Sabbath traditions very different from those I now embrace. On Sunday mornings my parents would be off to the tennis club, weather permitting, where they would spend the morning playing tennis and the rest of the day socialising.  As a young boy I would play with the other children there and we would find things to do around the club. Later, as a teenager, I grew to love surfing and would spend my Sundays at the beach. Everyone in our family had their own interests and each would go their separate ways on a Sunday. That’s what weekends were for - days to be filled with fun.

I have always enjoyed technology and finding out how things work. Probably as a result of my love for technology I became fascinated with Formula 1 motor racing, and whenever I wasn’t out surfing on a Sunday I would watch the F1 Grand Prix.

My wife, Lilian, on the other hand, had grown up in the LDS Church. Her family Sunday traditions, passed from one generation to the next, were very different from mine. Sundays were spent worshipping, serving, and visiting family and others. And their Sabbath worship really started the day before. The Primary song “Saturday is a special day. It’s the day we get ready for Sunday” was a reality in their home.

Lilian and I met as teenagers and I was introduced to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Over a period of time I came to learn for myself that the Book of Mormon was the word of God. I gained my own testimony that Joseph Smith had indeed seen the Father and the Son, and that this was the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. This knowledge necessitated a change in the pattern of my life, especially the pattern of my Sundays. The traditions of my family were not in harmony with the teachings I’d grown to accept. Surfing on the Sabbath was set aside.

We married and started our family, and while our gospel ideals were now similar, some of my old family traditions still tugged at me quite strongly. I had no desire to go surfing on Sundays, but I was still drawn to watching F1 Grand Prix racing. After lunch, after a morning at church, I would set myself up in the lounge in front of the TV where I would spend a few hours watching, while my wife looked after our young family. I rationalised that I was not actually participating in sport on the Sabbath, only watching it.

In Lilian’s family, as she was growing up, the tradition had been a Sabbath of devotion and service. In my family it had been sport. It soon became clear that our Sabbath day traditions were conflicting and that we needed to establish our own traditions.

I knew of the counsel in the 59th section of the Doctrine and Covenants that, to more fully keep ourselves unspotted from the world, we needed to go to church and offer up our sacraments on the Sabbath1. I was also aware of the promises that the “fulness of the earth” would be ours if we did this 2, but I’d overlooked the requirement of verse 13 that “... on this day thou shalt do none other thing ...”3.

As a family we counselled together and determined that there were some TV programs that we didn’t feel were suitable for the Sabbath, one of them being the F1 Grand Prix. Technology came to the rescue for me and a VCR provided the means for me to watch later in the week. My interest in F1 waned though as, despite my best efforts to avoid hearing the results, I would find myself watching a race already knowing the outcome. Over time our family stopped watching all TV programs on Sundays.

As a young family we wanted, and desperately needed, the blessings of the gospel, and we realised that some of the things we were doing robbed us of the full measure of the Lord’s blessings. Change was necessary, sacrifice of old habits was required, and newer and brighter family traditions - traditions more closely centred around our Saviour’s teachings - needed to be established.

These changes were not always easy - especially for me - and it took time and determination to give up the old and embrace the new. Today, some decades on from those early decisions, I look at how our Sabbath observance has become a sign4 for our family, how it’s become a delight5 for all of us, and a covenant we choose to make with our Heavenly Father. I marvel at how our children have hallowed the Sabbath and chosen for themselves to set aside the things of the world5. I thrill to see how our grandchildren are now being helped and encouraged by their parents to choose to make the Sabbath a special day, and I pray that it might be a “perpetual covenant”6 with God throughout the generations of our posterity.



1. D&C 59:9

2. D&C 59:16

3. D&C 59:13

4. Exodus 31:13

5. Isaiah 58 :13&14

6. Exodus 31:16