Book Title: The Real Home
The Sabbath is the golden clasp of the week, the best day of all. In the beginning, it was made for man; and it is God’s love-gift to us. While it is ours, it is at the same time His, - a token held by both in joint ownership. Had men always kept God’s Sabbath, they would not have forgotten Him, and hence there would not have been a heathen nation on earth.
The Creator was generous in His giving. He gave us six days of each week for our own work. He kept but one for Himself, and He calls it “My holy day,.” As He presents this gift, He tells us how to use it, - what to do, and what to say.
“If thou turn away thy foot from the Sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on My holy day; and call the Sabbath a delight, the holy of the Lord, honorable; and shalt honor Him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words: then shalt thou delight thyself in the Lord.” Isaiah 58:13, 14.
The Sabbath is of such great importance that God gave a commandment telling us to “remember” it. No press of work is to interfere with its sacred hours. “In plowing time and in harvest thou shalt rest,” He commands. Exodus 34:21, A.R.V. The Sabbath comes each week, while we sow and when we reap.
“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it.” That which is kept is guarded and cherished. We strive to keep our health, our property, our lives. That which we prize most is most jealously kept. As the Sabbath comes from the Giver of “every good and every perfect gift,” it is worthy of being carefully and religiously kept to His glory and praise.
NOT A HOLIDAY
How shall we keep the Sabbath? – “Holy.” That which is holy belongs to God, and is to be treated accordingly. Anything set apart for His service is holy, consecrated, sacred. A holy day is not a holiday, nor is it to be treated as such. It is a time to give thought to our Creator, to learn His will, His character, to delight in His communion and fellowship.
“Sabbath” means rest, - spiritual rest; and he who simply refrains from work, while he talks on worldly subjects, feats, and plays, is not truly keeping God’s rest day.
Children quickly catch the spirit of their parents and associates in Sabbath keeping. If father and mother keep it according to the commandment, - if servants,
animals, all on the premises, are under the instruction given, - the children know it; and if not, they are not slow to follow the example of others.
THE PREPARATION DAY
The holy women were so careful about the observance of the Sabbath, that they would not even more perfectly embalm the body of their crucified Savior on that day; but after seeing Him laid in the tomb, they “returned, and prepared spices and ointments; and rested the Sabbath day according to the commandment.” Luke 23:56. After the Sabbath was past, “upon the first day of the week,…they came unto the sepulcher, bringing the spices which they had prepared” (Luke 24:1), expecting to finish the work left incomplete two days before.
The Sabbath is desecrated by the use of its hours to repair clothing, do extra cooking, and for other works of preparation which should have been performed the day before the Sabbath. If children are taught that the Sabbath is to be spent differently from other days, they will early have a sense of the sacredness of God’s holy time.
The Sabbath is to be remembered during the working days – which means that work will be finished, and plans made that the Sabbath may be properly kept. The temporal must not be allowed to encroach on the spiritual. We must not become too weary to enjoy the Sabbath rest. It is not true Sabbath keeping to sleep away the holy hours. …
The Sabbath is the father’s special opportunity. That day, he can be at home and in touch with his children as at no other time. It will be profitable for both father and mother to study how to instruct and help their children on this day.
It is a beautiful custom for all the family to attend church, sitting in the same pew, all singing, all bowing in prayer, all listening to the service together.
FAMILY OR DELEGATE – WHICH?
In some families, the children are sent to Sabbath school, and return home as their parents go to the church service. It is far better for father and mother to go with the children to Sabbath school, and at its close, all remain for the regular service. Some one has said: “The most beautiful sight from the pulpit is a whole family seated together in a pew. The church service is not a convention, that a family should send a delegate.”
A gifted writer forcibly says:
The absence of the children from the service of the sanctuary is one of the alarming evils of our day. There are but few congregations where children can be found in any considerable numbers. No one will attempt to deny the sad consequences which must follow as the inevitable results of such a course. The children at eight years of age who have not already begun to form the habit of church attendance, and are not quite thoroughly established in it at sixteen, will stand a very fair chance of spending their entire life with little or no attachments for either the church or religious things. The non-churchgoing youth of this decade will be the Sabbath breakers and irreligious people of the next. – Sylvanus Stall.
Reverence for the house of God and His worship is a very important item of the child’s education. It should be taught by precept and example. Children who attend church services and are able to write may be furnished small notebooks in which to write the texts and anything they wish to remember….
MAKING SABBATH AFTERNOON PLEASANT
But it is the afternoon that is the problem where there are children of different ages in the family. Plans may be carefully arranged, and if the weather permits, a walk is both pleasant and profitable. The Creator was refreshed by viewing His handiwork the first Sabbath, and nature is ever a fresh field for contemplation….
One mother suggests this plan:
“Discover the largest tree within walking distance of your home. Find out all you can about it. Take the children on a pilgrimage to it once a month for a year. Lead them to notice every change, at each visit. Let them discover the simple facts about it, - its general form, outline of branches, shape and distribution of foliage, bud protection, formation of bark, leaf coloring, and its various manifestations of adaptation to season.
“You will soon find them taking an interest in every tree they pass. Then give them a description of trees native to your section of country. Help them to discover as many as possible and learn to recognize them.
“An interest in bird life may be aroused in a similar manner. Introduce the children, if possible, to Mr. and Mrs. Robin, or Bluebird, or Oriole, who are setting up housekeeping. Let them carry string, cotton, feathers, for nest building, and later, food for the little ones. They will also learn something about birds, and lessons in kindness, thoughtfulness, and love of nature.
“The elements of botany may be learned from the common flowers. We have spent some of the happiest hours lying on our backs in the open, watching the shifting mass of clouds – a veritable moving picture show against a screen of blue.”
But the walk, and the study of trees, birds, clouds, and flowers, will be purposeless unless the children are taught to connect these objects with God and His Book.
There will be occasions when those who are sick or in trouble may be visited. The children can carry flowers, fruit, good books or other reading, and thus learn to be kind and helpful.
Very young children may be taught that the Sabbath is different from other days. Two little girls were presented with dolls and their wardrobes. After the first gladness, as they looked at the dresses and other articles, it was pointed out that each doll had three gowns.
“The ones they have on now,” explained Aunt Esther, “are their company dresses. When they go visiting, or little girls with their dollies come to visit them, these are the dresses to wear. This,” taking up a plain gown, “is dolly’s everyday dress, to be worn at home, while Alice and Gwendolyn are helping mamma. And this pretty gown is dolly’s Sabbath dress. During the week, it will be folded carefully away; but on the day we get ready for Sabbath, Miss Dolly can put on her best dress, and be all ready when Sabbath comes.”
If mother sees that such instruction is followed, the child will learn a lesson in preparation for, and observance of, the Sabbath, that will not soon be forgotten.
It is a good plan to have Sabbath books, games, blocks, scrapbooks, albums, blackboard, slates, crayons, blank paper and pencils, and a sand table or box while the children are small. All this material should be kept for use only on the Sabbath, and will impart freshness and novelty.
Dolls in Sabbath dress may form a Sabbath school class, with Margery or Horace as teacher. The lesson story for that day can be “taught” them by the little teachers. One little girl was seen to place her dolls in a row and “teach” them the memory verses.
Children may also be allowed to “play church” on Sabbath afternoon. Thus lessons of proper behavior may be learned. If the older people join in this exercise, it will be both profitable and entertaining. It should be perfectly real, and the children should not be laughed at, nor should their cute sayings or doing be repeated in their presence. Dolls may form part of the congregation, or imaginary people may be present in vacant chairs properly placed.
Begin the service by singing songs the children have learned in Sabbath school. The Lord’s Prayer may be repeated in concert. If a child desires, he may be allowed to give the Sabbath school lesson story as a talk, while the others listen as they would to a sermon.
One interesting feature is the collection to be taken by one of the children, in a little box or basket kept for the purpose. This money may be given at Sabbath school or church, or to some special offering. It should never be used for common purposes. Close the exercises with a song.
This play service, if not long, will not be wearisome, for the children will be the actors. Even where there is but one child, father, mother, and other members of the household can join in the service. But all should be reverent, and everything should be conducted properly.
Ordinary games are not to be played as on other days, and it should be the pleasure of Christian parents to make the hours so happy that their children will not look forward to the Sabbath with dread. Rather, they will hail its coming with delight, as a visit from a friend. …
When dinner is over, four little faces look at mother, waiting for something to do. … Mother says, “Benny, run and bring your blocks – the wooden construction blocks and the stone building blocks.” The dining room table is cleared, while the children eagerly crowd around it.
“What shall we make?” mother inquires.
“The temple,” answers twelve-year-old Fred.
Quickly the children build the temple, with its courts.
When it is completed, mother asks, “When did we first hear of Jesus in the temple?”
“When He was a tiny baby,” replies Benny.
“And what was the next times?”
Iona answers: “When He talked to the doctors. He was only twelve years old then.”
“What happened here?” and mother points to the court of the gentiles.
“I know! I know!” cries Fred, jumping up and down and almost tilting the table. “Jesus turned the tables over, and drove out the sheep and the cattle and the money changers.”
“Can any one tell what He said?”
“I know,” says little Benny: “‘My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves.’”
“Now,” mother asks, “what happened in the temple during the crucifixion?”
After a moment, Fred says, “I don’t know, but I can find out.” Opening his Bible, he turns to the next to the last chapter of Matthew, then says, “I’ve found it: ‘The veil of the temple was rent in twain.,’” Iona shows the younger children where the veil was.
Then comes a blackboard exercise. Mother draws a shepherd’s crook, and asks for a verse which it suggests.
“‘There were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night,’” says Benny.
Next a star is drawn, and one of the children tells the story of the wise men.
Baby Elsie is elated when mother draws a picture of a basket in a river, for she knows the story of baby Moses.
Just then father comes downstairs and tells the children he has a new book to read to them. Together they look at the pictures and read the stories. Then with some songs and a Bible-verse contest, the happy afternoon goes quickly by.
Another Sabbath afternoon, the children looked at a box of Scripture pictures. When tired of these, they took turns in giving word pictures. One said: “I see a sick man by the road, and a donkey standing beside him. Another man came along and helped him.” Then all the rest exclaimed, “The good Samaritan!”
Such an afternoon takes mother’s time; but what did the Lord give the mother time for? Is it not better to give such training than to make a social call, or to take a nap so she can work better the next day? It will mean much to boys and girls to have these hours to look back upon. …
Drills on the names of the books of the Bible, their authors, and the number of chapters in each, are entertaining and valuable. Such knowledge will be helpful all through life. …
Conduct a Scripture hunt. That is, name a text, and see who can find it first. Of course, every child should have a well-bound Bible in suitable type as soon as he is able to read, and be taught how to care for it.
Scrapbooks made by the children themselves, containing texts and stories from their Sabbath school papers and Memory Verse Cards, are instructive and interesting.
If the children have proper home companionship, they will not feel the need of going visiting or pleasure seeking on the Sabbath. It is almost impossible for grown folks to confine their conversation to proper Sabbath topics when visiting on that day, and surely we cannot expect more of children.
The hour of prayer, like a strong hem, binds off the day – an hour when each member of the family may pray, and even the youngest not feel ashamed. Possibly other days do not permit all to unite heart and voice in prayer, but the Sabbath does.
To those who “remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy,” it will ever be –
“The best, the holiest, happiest day,
The sweetest of the seven.”