How To Celebrate the Sabbath Today

A woman sitting in the grass overlooking an ocean.

Seventh-day Adventists throughout the world celebrate the Sabbath every Saturday (the seventh day of the week). 

In this post, you’ll learn how you too can celebrate the Sabbath following Biblical principles. How you can plan and make time to enjoy its blessings even amid crazy schedules, family obligations, and hectic workdays. 

Here are 4 things you’ll learn:

  1. Reasons for keeping the Sabbath
  2. How to plan for the Sabbath
  3. How to prepare at home for the Sabbath
  4. Ideas on things to enjoy throughout the Sabbath day

Let’s start with the reason why we celebrate the Sabbath.

Opened bible on a wooden desk background.

Why Keep the Sabbath?

Adventists celebrate the Sabbath because God Himself “blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all His work that He had done in creation” (Genesis 2:3, ESV).

It’s a weekly reminder for us to rest from our work, to enjoy what our Creator made for us, and to worship and commune with Him. 

Also, we keep it in obedience to God’s command to His people to “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy” (Exodus 20:8, NKJV).

(Sometimes we have to be told to stop and rest…or we just won’t!)

As the fourth of the Ten Commandments, the Sabbath is a memorial of two things:

It’s also a sign of our sanctification through God’s work to transform us to be like Him—pure and holy (Ezekiel 20:20).

It’s also a way we show our complete trust in God as our provider and sustainer. This is seen when for a whole day, we stop what we always do to earn a living. We rest from our labors trusting that He’ll take care of us as we honor Him (Deuteronomy 7:9).

So, the main reason for celebrating the Sabbath is to show our trust in God. To trust Him as our Creator, Redeemer, and Provider. 

Looking at the Bible, you’ll see the Creation Sabbath on the seventh day of the week was kept by our Lord Jesus Himself, the apostles, and even the early church. And it was not just for the Jews. It was also kept by early Christians.

cityscape on the water with peaceful Sabbath sunset in the background

Sabbath Preparation

With all that demands our attention throughout the week, it’s important to plan and prepare for the Sabbath if we’re to keep it well.

This preparation is usually done on Friday, the day before Sabbath. Even in the Bible, Friday was known as “preparation day.” 

In Bible times, people ensured they completed all work before sundown on Friday evening (Mark 15:42; John 19:31,42; Luke 23:54).

But Friday preparation can be tricky sometimes. Like if you work and return home just before sundown—let’s say 5:00 pm. 

In this case, you can prepare in advance throughout the week by doing something every evening.

Let’s look at some ideas to get all your secular work done before Sundown on Friday so you can truly enjoy the blessing and benefits of the Sabbath.

Well dressed African American woman reading her  Bible

How to plan for the Sabbath

How we prepare for the Sabbath today is based on principles found in the Bible. Principles learned from God’s instructions, and how His people did it.

Here areas that need attention during Sabbath preparation:

Plan to have Saturday as your day off from work

The Bible tells us to “do no work” on Sabbath (Deuteronomy 5:14, NKJV). 

And the “work” that takes up most of our days is our daily employment.

So, it’s important to plan to have Sabbath as our off day, from sunset on Friday to sunset on Saturday (Leviticus 23:32).

This may be difficult for professionals like firefighters, or if you’re in the medical field. Even while keeping the Sabbath, you may need to be on call in case of emergencies.

But you can always set aside some time for meditation and private worship, even if you have to put in some time at a job like that. 

The primary thing is to just do what you can to not end up treating the Sabbath like any other ordinary day. Keep it sacred, and have your thoughts turned toward God as much as possible. This is good for your mind and your body.

Encourage your family members and visitors to rest too

The Sabbath Commandment to rest covers not only you, but also “your son… your daughter…or your resident who stays with you” (Deuteronomy 5:14, NASB).

If you are a parent, you can enjoy Sabbath with your children also, teaching them the blessing God intended for us on this weekly day off. This may mean not going to work, school, or doing homework (which they will surely appreciate!).

And for visitors staying with you, you can help them prepare too.

Without being forceful, you can talk to them about the benefits of Sabbath and why it’s important to you. You can explain that you want them to partake in those mental, physical, and spiritual benefits as well.

What if you’re the only one in your household who believes in Sabbath observance?

If you’re the only one or you’re a visitor in a house that doesn’t keep the Sabbath, you don’t have to be worried. And you don’t have to get everyone to keep it with you. 

Just explain yourself and prepare. Then go ahead and keep it in the most pleasant way possible, demonstrating how wonderful of a blessing it is. 

Some people may not understand what Sabbath means for people today, but you can show them that it’s all about enjoying what God created for us and acknowledging His power and love.

Many people make it a point to go to church on Sabbath, just as Jesus and the apostles did. It’s the perfect opportunity to meet together, worship, pray, and study about God our Creator. 

When at home, many people take time to relax while reading the Bible, listening to Christian music, playing music or writing songs or poems, or taking a walk while praying. 

Wherever you find yourself on Sabbath, you can honor God’s holy day.

Plan to have your employees off duty on Sabbath

The fourth Commandment clearly states that the Sabbath rest is also for “your male servant [and] your female servant…that your male servant and your female servant may rest as well as you” (Deuteronomy 5:14, NKJV).

This applies if you have employees at your place of business. Or if you’ve hired someone to help you in your house or garden. 

These people also need to keep the Sabbath, so give them an off day too.

Plan not to buy or sell on Sabbath

In Nehemiah 13:15-22, we see God’s people being asked not to sell their goods on Sabbath. And even if other people try to sell to them, they should not buy from them. This is because business transactions are part of the work that we should rest from.

The Sabbath is a day to take a break from the concerns of making money or getting ahead in the business world.

So in preparation for Sabbath, we can try to do many of these things in advance. Avoid any unnecessary transactions that can be done before or after Sabbath.

Prepare food ahead of time

In Exodus 16:23, God’s people were asked to cook their Sabbath meals on Friday, before the Sabbath. 

So for us today, we can follow this example and do all we can to prepare our Sabbath meals on Friday. Then we just need to warm and set it out on Sabbath with very little effort, except for simple things that need to be put together just before serving.

Let’s now look at all the things we can do for and on Sabbath!

father and young daughter laughing while they sweep and mop to get ready to celebrate the Sabbath

Preparing the Home for Sabbath

Studies have shown that clutter and messiness at home causes people to feel more stress. 

That means a clean and pleasant home will make it feel restful, encouraging a more focused and peaceful pleasant state of mind. 

That’s why it’s a great idea to schedule some cleaning and tidying time before Sabbath each week. 

These chores might include:

  • Cleaning the bathrooms
  • Tidying up the kitchen after preparing the Sabbath meals
  • Sweeping and mopping the floors
  • Putting away clutter
  • Dusting furniture and other surfaces in the home
  • Changing the sheets on the beds
  • Making sure the spaces in your home where you’ll want to spend time are cleared and ready. 

Extra ways to make your home feel more special on the Sabbath are:

  • Set up a place for prayer, reflection, and/or Bible study
  • Set the table in a special way
  • Light candles
  • Make a special Sabbath meal for the family, or to share with friends
  • Clear away things that can be distractions, or that make us think of weekly obligations or worries

With all these in place, we’ll be able to “call the Sabbath a delight and the holy day of the LORD honorable” (Isaiah 58:13, 14, NKJV).

Then we’ll be ready to welcome the Sabbath with anticipation. 

Welcoming the Sabbath

It can be extra nice to pay attention to when sunset happens on Friday night, so you can acknowledge the beginning of the Sabbath day. It can make things more special, and it can help us be intentional about “turning off” our mental processes about work or other things, and direct it toward God and the blessings He wants to give us.

Friday Evening Vespers

Many find Friday evening the perfect time for a casual worship gathering to welcome the Sabbath. “Vespers” is the name often used to describe this evening service.

Sometimes it can be held at home, and many times families invite friends and other church members for fellowship that draws them together. 

They pray, sing, and share a devotional from the Bible. Sometimes people may share thoughts or testimonies.

Snacks like fruit and popcorn, or other favorites, can be a fun addition as well. 

In other places, church members gather in churches for vespers. This is especially helpful for those who live alone or who are the only Sabbath keepers in their homes.

And you can still hold your own vespers wherever you find it easy to relax and focus on the joy of the Sabbath. Maybe it’s a cup of hot cider in a chair in your living room while you read or pray, or maybe it’s at a scenic place you like to drive to. 

Sabbath Morning

After a good night’s sleep, and with no routine morning chores, Sabbath mornings provide awesome time to spend with God. Your mind is free from so many of its usual burdens, and it can be exciting to learn more about who God is and what He has in store for us. You might even be surprised at how fun it can be to dig into some of the profound ideas and concepts expressed in God’s Word. 

Personal Devotional time

Spending time each day in prayer and reading the Bible is important. But on Sabbath, you have more time to focus without distraction.

You get to dive deep into Scripture, which helps you grow closer to God and deepens your faith. 

You can begin with soothing music that prepares your mind for worship. Then spend time praying, reading your Bible or devotional, and in reflection. 

Family Worship

Christian Family Praying together

The Sabbath also provides dedicated time for family fellowship and worship. 

Just like Friday evening vespers, a family can get together for prayer, singing, sharing, or reading the Holy Scriptures or a devotional.

There’s something sweet and special about coming together with those you love the most for a time of worship. It breeds a kind of closeness and unity that’s not found anywhere else.

It also provides a precious opportunity to teach children about God, fulfilling God’s words in Deuteronomy 6:67.

It can also be nice to share a special Sabbath breakfast with your family before heading to church.

Sabbath Worship in Church

On Sabbath morning you’ll often find Adventists attending their local SDA church

Or once in a while, others can decide to meet outside in nature for a change.

This is very important for every Christian. In his letter to the Hebrews, Paul encourages us to meet with fellow believers often. To encourage each other in love and faithfulness (Hebrews 10:2425).

Here’s what to expect in an Adventist congregation:

  • First, there’s Sabbath School.

This is a session where church members go to different classes based on their age. 

In these classes, there’s singing, listening to mission stories, and having discussions on Scriptures. Usually there is a lesson book for each quarter, tackling different topics.

  • Then the main church service

The whole church meets together for a prepared program.

There is music, praying, giving of tithes and offering, and then a preacher shares the sermon of the day. 

Sometimes there may be special activities like the Lord’s supper.

And after church, you get to meet friends and head for lunch.

  • Sabbath Lunch

Sabbath lunch is always special because church members often get to share a meal. They can bring it over to the church and share everything as potluck.

In other cases, several families come together and go to one home for lunch. Or a family invites students who are away from their families to enjoy a family meal with them. Or different groups in church, like youth, choir, or department share a meal and bond.

Then after the meal, they can stay for fun family activities, go back to church, or just enjoy some time alone with God.   

Sabbath Afternoon

Just like the rest of the Sabbath, the afternoon can be a very rich time to spend with God and the people who are most special to you.

Here are several ways to enjoy the Sabbath while still keeping the Lord’s day holy. 

 1. Enjoying Sabbath afternoon Programs in Church

Some churches have afternoon programs on Sabbath. Programs like:

  • Bible studies
  • Music concerts or sing-alongs
  • Walks, hikes, or bike rides
  • Youth or children’s programs
  • Agape feast
  • Visiting sick or discouraged church members or neighbors
  • Other volunteer opportunities

2. Appreciating Nature

On the Sabbath, we’re reminded of God as our Creator whom we should worship (Revelation 4:11).

So, taking time to be outside and enjoy His creation in nature is a great way to spend the Creation Sabbath.

Exploring God’s creation, and the care and love that went into creating the world around you, draws you closer to your Creator.

It teaches children to appreciate simplicity and beauty. And even adults find rest and healing in nature from the weariness of their everyday life.

Here are some simple ideas on how to spend time in nature next Sabbath:

  • Visit a park 
  • Go on a picnic
  • Hike in the mountains 
  • Visit a quiet beach
  • Sit by a calm lake or splash in the creek
  • Lay a blanket out in the sunshine and soak up some good Vitamin D
  • Go on a nature walk and collect special and unique rocks, leaves, or acorns
  • Take a pair of binoculars and watch for birds
  • Listen to the sounds of nature – birds, frogs, and other animals
  • Encourage your children to explore the world around them. 
  • Enjoy a weekend campout over the Sabbath
  • Watch a nature documentary

3. Play Bible Games or Trivia Challenges

Children of all ages love games. 

Playing Bible-themed games is a fun way to learn more about the Bible and connect over fun and laughter. 

young Hispanic woman smiling and enjoying Sabbath while sitting against a large tree trunk holding an open black bible

4. Sermons or Bible-based Documentaries

Sometimes on Sabbath afternoon, you’d rather stay home, like on rainy days. You can watch a sermon from a favorite preacher, or Christian documentaries. 

Kids will especially enjoy Bible stories and programming. They’ll learn Bible truths as well as important character lessons.

5. Bible Crafts

Children love making crafts, and this can be a fun way for siblings and friends to bond. They also benefit a lot when their parents or other significant adults join them.

From the time spent together, they can learn Bible lessons and get a sense of value and worth. 

Some fun craft ideas might be:

  • Drawing or painting Bible stories
  • Building an ark out of popsicle sticks
  • Building the wall of Jericho with legos or blocks (and then knocking it down!)
  • Decorate a prayer journal

Closing the Sabbath

And as the sun sets on Saturday evening, many believers gather to close the Sabbath. This can be home, in church, or wherever they are.

They thank God for the blessing of Sabbath, and pray for grace and blessings for the new week ahead.

Before going on with the responsibilities that await them, they first commit themselves to God’s guidance and keeping (Amos 8:5).

And these prayers continue throughout the week.

We’ll always need God’s help as we plan again to prepare for, and keep the next Sabbath.

As we meet with challenges when trying to keep the Sabbath, we can pray for wisdom and guidance from the Holy Spirit.

We can be assured that God is faithful to answer our prayers (1 John 5:14).

The Sabbath is a special day, given to us by a loving Father. It’s a gift of immeasurable value and profound benefits that we can look forward to each week. 

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