If you have a shot at winning $50,000, you take it, right? For Nancy Judd, resident of Alpine, Utah, the possibility of a $50,000 prize wasn’t enough to get her to depart from her convictions to keep Sunday a special day. Nancy’s a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (often inadvertently referred to as the Mormon Church) and takes the commandment to keep the Sabbath day holy seriously.
In the For Strength of Youth booklet published by The Church of Jesus Christ it says the following:
The Lord has given the Sabbath day for your benefit and has commanded you to keep it holy. Honoring the Sabbath day includes attending all your Church meetings. Go to sacrament meeting prepared to worship the Lord and partake worthily of the sacrament. . . . Refrain from activities that would distract you or others during this sacred meeting. . . . As you do these things, you invite the Spirit of the Lord to be with you.
When Nancy Judd won $10,000 in the World Food Championship contest, she had a chance to compete for the larger grand prize. The competition day took place on a Sunday, and she repeatedly declined to attend. The judges were taken off guard by her response and continued asking her to participate–Nancy held to her original stance and officially turned down the invitation.
Mormons Make a Point of Avoiding Sunday Activities That Are Not Gospel-Centered
Judd’s position on Sunday activities isn’t unique to her–in fact it represents a much larger doctrinal and cultural effort to keep the Sabbath day a holy day set apart for worship. Brigham Young University, a school owned by The Church of Jesus Christ, operates a lively athletic program. When teams schedule their games for the season, they never compete on Sundays. This policy is in place across the board. Even high-profile teams like the football and basketball teams refuse to compete in any Sunday games. This complicates things for BYU football, because the team is independent.
Even when post-season games are scheduled for Sundays, BYU teams decline to participate. Many times, opposing teams will work to accommodate BYU and commend them for sticking to their principles.
Sabbath Observance is Personal
Observing the Sabbath day is a cultural characteristic for Mormons, and it’s one that is also very individual and personal. Sunday observance focuses on one’s personal relationship with God and the Savior. Sacrament meeting, the most important Sunday meeting for Mormons, is a time for every member to reflect on the week and evaluate his or her standing with God. This is a time to repent and to commit to living more in line with the teachings of Jesus Christ.
Sundays have always been an important day for me. Growing up, my parents kept Sunday a special day where we’d listen to uplifting music, eat meals together, and reflect on our choices. Now that I have a family of my own, Sundays are perhaps more full of snacks and diaper changes, and now I have a chance to teach my own children the importance of keeping Sunday special. Sunday is a day for me to rest from my weekly chores and spend time with my husband and son. The Sabbath is a day I set apart from the rest of the week to dedicate to my Savior.
Sometimes keeping the Sabbath holy is hard, and sometimes we have to make sacrifices. Sometimes those sacrifices are even a shot at winning $50,000. And when we hold to our promises to God to keep His day a special one, we qualify for blessings that will improve our lives far more permanently than a check would.
Charlotte graduated from Brigham Young University with a bachelor's degree in English, with an emphasis in editing. During her education she interned with the Neal A.Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship, BYU Publications, and the New Era magazine. Charlotte currently lives in Portland, Oregon, with her husband and son. She's a stay-at-home-mom and has been able to keep up her writing through maintaining a personal blog (smallandtrivial.blogspot.com).