The Sabbath is the day made holy and set aside by God during the creation week (Genesis 1,2) for worship celebration of God’s presence and confession of God’s grace.
Seven Ways to Treasure the Sabbath Gift
- Plan Ahead. Read the manna story in Exodus 16. “Think ahead,” God was telling the Israelites, and us as well. Make plans to enjoy the Sabbath gift. Don’t just plan for a few hours, like 9:30 till noon on Saturday morning. Plan the entire 24 hours.
- Make it Special. In the middle of the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:8-11) God reminds us of His gift of the Sabbath. “Don’t do your everyday work on the seventh day,” God tells us. By following His plan, we’re not trying to by His favor. Nothing we do can make Him love us more than He does already. We just want to be fully free to experience the incredibly wonderful presence of God and to enjoy being together with Him.
- Do Good. The Sabbath is not just about not working. Jesus taught us that we honor our Heavenly Father by doing good on the Sabbath (see Matthew 12:9-12).
- Worship Together. The practice of “going to church” on Sabbath was an example Jesus set for us during His life here on earth (see Mark 6:2 and Luke 4:16, 31, for example).
- Discover Joy. In some mysterious, wonderful way, the Sabbath gift imparts joy, filling our lives all through the week with deep trust in. the goodness of God. Read Isaiah 51:11 and 58:13, 14.
- Celebrate Salvation. More than anything else, the Sabbath was to be a sign between the Creator and His people that it is God who saves us (see Ezekiel 20:12). The Sabbath points to the fact that we have given up on the idea of “working our way to heaven” (see Hebrews 4:9, 10). It reinforces the truth that there is nothing we can do to earn salvation. It reminds us’ every week that we are saved by the grace of God, and saved by grace alone (Romans 3:20-24).
- Look Forward. The Sabbath is not an earthbound tradition. The Bible makes it clear that when the history of this planet is over, the redeemed will continue to worship God every Sabbath in heaven (Isaiah 66:22, 23).
Adapted from Walking on the Edge (AdventSource. 1996).
How Can a Youth Leader Enjoy the Sabbath?
- Get a head start. Don’t leave all your planning to Friday night. Start preparing Sabbath School early in the week. Make Wednesday or Thursday night your night for phoning participants, studying the lesson, preparing a bulletin, or practicing for the program.
- Get up early. Before everyone else in your house gets going, get ready for the day. Enjoy the quiet. Take a short walk outside while the air is still brisk. Don’t rush. Plan to leave for church ten minutes earlier than you have to. Drive slowly.
- Treat Yourself. Brew a pot of your favorite decaf. Eat a warm cinnamon roll. Read a chapter in a devotional book you don’t read any other day. Listen to your favorite sacred music.
- Make a big deal about Sabbath. When you get to church, greet your youth with a warm, “ Happy Sabbath.” Comment about being thankful for Sabbath. Talk about the extra sweetness of Sabbath air, the additional intensity of Sabbath rain or snow, the special blueness of clear Sabbath skies, the deeper joy of Sabbath friendships. Wax eloquent!
- Observe Sabbath all day long. Don’t stop thinking about the Sabbath when church is over. Keep a list of favorite Sabbath afternoon activities, play favorite Sabbath games, read together, enjoy a rest in the middle of the day, etc.
Super Sabbath Group Activities
- Cake Art. Provide an undecorated sheet cake for each group of five or six people, as well as all the items necessary to decorate the cake. Once the cake is decorated, share it with people at a nursing home, or with little kids who could use a treat.
- Midrash Walk. Wander out in nature and find a place where you can comfortably interact. Talk in the form of Hebrew Midrash, equating two unrelated objects in order to learn and teach from the effort. For example, how is the law like an overcoat?” or, “How is morality like the Alps?”
- Scripture Acrostics. Break your group into teams that represent an appropriate mix of age, maturity, skill knowledge of the Bible, etc. After showing them a couple of examples, give each group the assignment to create ten Bible character acrostics. Here are a couple of examples:
No land in sight
Only water, water everywhere
All the animals are restless
Hold on! Here comes another wave
Perhaps I’ll try.
Everyone else is afraid.
There’s another wave coming.
Easy does it.
Right now I wish I’d worked more on my backstroke!
These activities were taken from a wonderful book by Don Pate, 52 Sabbath Activities for Teen Groups (Hagerstown, MD: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1995).
It’s interesting to note that the observance of the seventh-day Sabbath came to Adventists by way of the Seventh Day Baptists and the influence of a woman by the name of Rachel Oakes. In 1843 and 1844, Mrs. Oakes distributed Seventh Day Baptist literature to the members of the Christian Brethren Church in Washington, New Hampshire. Many of the members were followers of William Miller, who believed Jesus soon would return to earth. A Methodist minister in that congregation, Frederick Wheeler, studied the literature and began observing the Sabbath on Saturday. Soon others in the congregation joined him.
Within a few months, a curious visitor came to the New Hampshire congregation. He was Joseph Bates, a retired sea captain who had heard of the church members’ interest in the Sabbath. In 1846 and 1847 Bates wrote a series of pamphlets in which he detailed his belief in the seventh-day Sabbath. These writings later were cited by James and Ellen White as influential in their decision to honor the Sabbath.
Beginning in 1848 the Advent believers held a series of retreats they called “Sabbath Conferences” in Connecticut, New York and Maine. During these meetings the members studied the Bible together and· settled various points of doctrines, paving the way for a united statement of belief.
More Great Discussion on the Sabbath:
- Abraham Joshua Heschel, The Sabbath (New York, NY: Farrar. Strauss and Giroux, 1951).
Also see: Grace Orientation.
From: ABZ’s of Adventist Youth Ministry
Permission to copy for use in the local congregation or group.