The world is a very hectic place. There are work schedules, school schedules, long commutes, after school activities, and play dates besides the routine activities of running a home. If we are not careful, we can “crash and burn” into the Sabbath and not get the full benefit that God intended. As the ladies of the house, we as wives and mothers can do a lot to help our families enjoy the Sabbath the way God intended.
For many years, I was a single parent who worked outside the home. I was always very grateful for the Sabbath; after all, it was the one day on which I could rest! Yet my family and I found ourselves frantic each week, deciding what to eat and what to wear to church services. We wanted to observe the Sabbath properly, but we were often not at our best. I could not figure out how I could use the preparation day to get ready since I had to work. Then, it clicked! God starts days at sunset—which means that the preparation day starts on Thursday at sunset!
Starting to prepare for the Sabbath on Thursday at sunset was a revelation that changed the whole dynamics of our family. On Thursday evening, we ate a simple meal that did not take much time, and then our preparations began. Everyone had different jobs to do. Some of the jobs that were not favored, such as washing dishes, were rotated among family members. Bedrooms were picked up, bathrooms were cleaned, and the house was vacuumed and dusted in order to create a pleasant atmosphere for the Sabbath. My children selected what they wanted to wear to services, and gave me their selections for my approval. This also gave me an opportunity to iron or do some additional laundry if necessary. I prepared the bulk of the Sabbath meal that Thursday evening, so that when we went to bed on Thursday, we were ready for the Sabbath to begin at sunset on Friday.
After we started doing this, Friday evenings became almost heavenly instead of hectic. The children set the table while I put the final touches on dinner. My oldest daughter loved flowers, so she often made a flower arrangement to adorn the table. We played soft, gentle music in the background, and we gathered at the table to begin the Sabbath with prayer. Our family members started a tradition of talking about the activities of the past week, and relating spiritual lessons based on some of those events. During their teen years, the conversations sometimes seemed strained, but we always did converse. My children are adults now. When we all come together, one fond memory that they all share is their weekly Sabbath dinner.
God commands us to observe the Sabbath (Exodus 20:8), and Christ affirms that the Sabbath (as well as the other holy days in God's annual cycle) was made for mankind (Mark 2:27). God’s people are blessed to understand this weekly gift from Him. If we as wives and mothers use the entire preparation day—beginning Thursday at sunset—and get the whole family involved, we can begin the Sabbath with our hearts and minds prepared to observe it. We can then truly call the Sabbath a delight, and receive its blessings (Isaiah 58:13–14).