"Festival Jane"*, a devout, dedicated, and extremely zealous
new convert, had some questions about keeping the Sabbath properly.
She turned to an article in the Good News for answers.
This is "her" fictional, yet realistic diary entry concerning
William Dankenbring's reasoning sent to the members of the Church.
I Guess I'm kind of new to keeping this Sabbath thing. But I'm a little confused!
I just got this Good News magazine, and the guy who wrote the article tried to tell me how it is that I should keep the Sabbath. I ended up more confused than ever!
I guess the good news is that I can sleep in a little – the services start at 10:30 in the morning. The article said I can have some personal prayer and study – that'll be nice to do, kind of relaxing after the hectic week I had. I can make a nice appetizing breakfast because I'm going to need the energy for church. My husband is the only one who can lead the Bible Study, I guess – and we're supposed to read The Bible Story – but to be honest, I'm just not into letting my kids see those awful, horrid pictures! But if I say anything about it to my minister, I think he'll tell me I have an attitude problem. I think we'll just talk together.
I was wondering what my children can and cannot do, and to be honest, I am more confused now than ever! They're allowed to read to keep busy – but only educational or profitable books. What's educational exactly? They aren't going to want to read their textbooks – they've been in school all week. And they say that encyclopedias are just boring! I really don't want them reading encyclopedias anyway. I know where they will be turning to, and they're too young for that. So what books are okay, and what books aren't?
The kids love to play games. But they are only allowed to play quiet games. What's a quiet game? When kids play games, they play games. Maybe tic tac toe? Are they not supposed to laugh? And another educational game? They've been in school all week! They just want to take a break and have a little time to unwind. But I don't want them to inadvertently break the Sabbath because I'm responsible if they do. So where do I draw the line? Where does okay and not okay meet? I'm trying to take this seriously, but it seems so vague!
We could just forget the games, and I could take the whole family on this amazing picnic. But even here, I could get this all wrong. We're not supposed to seek our own pleasures – or think our own thoughts. What am I expected to do at this picnic then? Just eat my food, listen to the birds – or music?
Oh yes, music. I could bring the radio with us to listen to music! But even here – it has to be the right music. Inspiring music. I guess country's out. Rock's always out anyway. Oh well, guess I'll pop in those Young Ambassadors singing zip-a-dee-doo-dah, because my kids just cannot stand classical operatic music, and they get enough choir at church. My, oh, my, what a wonderful day!
I could listen to the news, they said that's okay – but not too much news. If I have the news on constantly, that breaks the Sabbath. But how much news is too much news? Where's the line drawn? When have I offended God by breaking the Sabbath and when have I not? Are there any real answers here? Is this really just a guessing game of try your best and you're okay? After all, they said that how I keep the Sabbath could be vital to my salvation! So why is it that it seems so crazy relaxed, but with such serious consequences?
At least they told me I don't have to worry about using gas or electricity. That's the good news.
I can drive, too! Well, kind of. I asked them about that, about how the Jews could only drive less than a mile on the Sabbath, and they said that's true, but that was a Jewish custom, not from the Lord – so go ahead and drive to Church, you haven't broken the Sabbath.
I also thought I shouldn't buy anything on the Sabbath – but I guess I can. I can get gasoline, or I can pay to park my car – depending on the circumstances. How do I know what are the right circumstances? I really don't want to break the Sabbath, but do I really need to call my minister every time I have a doubt about it? Is it really all in my own judgement? They said if it's an emergency and I have to do it, it's alright. But I should have done it on Friday night before sunset. So I still feel guilty!
But they told me to come to church because it's more important to fellowship on the Sabbath than to stay home. But what if I did break the Sabbath – and they don't tell me I did, and I don't know I did? They said something about binding and loosing and the minister's authority and power – but it just does not sit right with me.
I wondered about the whole graduation thing down the road, and that got even more vague. It all depends on how long, how much work, being brief... I feel like I'm walking on pins and needles! The same with funerals, weddings.... as long as I don't miss church. If anything happens during church time, they say I have to go to church as the first priority. I can always go to church, but these things only happen once in a while. But if I don't go to church, they could kick me out and I could face the third resurrection. Again – why so vague? And if I DO get to go to a wedding or funeral, I'm not supposed to engage in worldly conversation or idle chatter. What am I supposed to do, sit in the corner and read a Bible while everyone else is enjoying the occasion?
And when it comes to chores. They said I can wash the dishes, but it should be done the night before. If I do wash the dishes, only when I have to – like a cleanliness or bug issue. Same thing with making the bed. I shouldn't go all out in making the bed, but I can pull the covers up a bit and I should “be okay”.
I wondered about when my neighbors come over to borrow something. I can't lend them tools, because I'd be enabling them to work, but I can give them sugar or bread – even though they might be using that to cook with. Why does everything have to be so complicated?
I guess I'm left with more answers than I started with. They told me don't be on either extreme of these questions. I can always go to the minister to decide on these issues if I have doubts about it. Maybe that's what they want me to do. To always rely on them for the right answers and the proper judgment. I guess that's what I have to do. Because they want me to believe the Sabbath is a delight and a feast day. But all I end up doing is wondering if what I am doing is right, or wrong, and end up disciplining the children, or okaying something that's not okay, or not okaying something that is okay.
I think after reading this letter, that they aren't taking the Sabbath as seriously as I do, because I read in the Bible how serious it was in those days. Oh well, if they aren't too worried about it, maybe I shouldn't be. But I do need to make sure I never miss a church service, or send in a tithe, or disobey a minister. That seems to be what they always take seriously! Maybe I'm just not converted enough to understand this. Yeah, that's it. I'm definitely not ready for baptism.
Until next entry - Forward to the Kingdom.....
Reference to Article: The Joyful Blessings of God's Holy Sabbath
Author: William F. Dankenbring
Date: September 9, 1964
Publication: Good News Magazine
submitted by SHT