The Sabbath Day is a good time to set aside things that are weighing us down.
Here’s how Jeremiah taught that principle to the ancient inhabitants of Jerusalem:
Thus said the Lord unto me; Go and stand in the gate of the children of the people, whereby the kings of Judah come in, and by the which they go out, and in all the gates of Jerusalem;
And say unto them, Hear ye the word of the Lord, ye kings of Judah, and all Judah, and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, that enter in by these gates:
Thus saith the Lord; Take heed to yourselves, and bear no burden on the sabbath day, nor bring it in by the gates of Jerusalem;
Neither carry forth a burden out of your houses on the sabbath day, neither do ye any work, but hallow ye the sabbath day, as I commanded your fathers.Jeremiah 17:19-22
This imagery must have been on the mind of Nehemiah as he stood by the gates of Jerusalem many years later, and observed people carrying their burdens through the gates on the sabbath. Reminding “the nobles of Judah” that this kind of behavior had led to the prior destruction of the city, he commanded that the gates of the city be shut on the sabbath, “that there should no burden be brought in” (Nehemiah 13:15-19).
As I’ve thought about Jeremiah’s admonition today, I’ve wondered what burdens I can lay down in order to more fully fulfill the purpose of the Sabbath day.
Two weeks ago in general conference, Sister J. Anette Davis taught, “We are commanded to love others, not to judge them. Let’s lay down that heavy burden; it isn’t ours to carry” (“His Yoke Is Easy, and His Burden Is Light,” General Conference, October 2022, italics in original).
If judging others is a burden, there must be a number of other intangible burdens I carry without even realizing it. Here are a few that I might be willing to set aside today:
- Concerns about the status of projects at work
- Fears of not fully measuring up to the expectations of others
- Worries about current world events and political issues
- My long backlog of tasks I need to complete
I’m not suggesting that planning or repenting are inappropriate activities for the Sabbath Day, but I am suggesting that, for myself, anxiety about some of these topics may unnecessarily distract me from the primary purpose of the day: to worship God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ. I would like to walk through the doors of our church building unencumbered by unnecessary burdens which might prevent me from fully celebrating the gifts God has given to me and the gifts I would like to offer to Him.
When Alma organized the church at the waters of Mormon, he established the practice of setting aside one day in every week to “gather themselves together…and to worship the Lord their God” (Mosiah 18:25). Moroni later tells us that “the church did meet together oft, to fast and to pray, and to speak one with another concerning the welfare of their souls. And they did meet together oft to partake of bread and wine, in remembrance of the Lord Jesus” (Moroni 6:5-6). I would like my Sabbath Day to match those simple descriptions and not to be cluttered with unnecessary baggage.
Today, I will set aside my burdens in order to fully participate in the Sabbath. I will defer worries and concerns that can wait until another day, and I will dedicate my time and attention to worshipping God, partaking of the sacrament, and spiritually strengthening others.