Last spring I asked a friend at church to teach a children’s Sabbath School class a few weeks from then. She checked her calendar and said, “I can’t. That’s the day Noah starts his Little League Baseball.” When I grew up, Sabbath School and church took priority over everything. But now it’s common for families to skip Sabbaths for whole months, and return after children’s sports events are over. What do you think of this, Aunty?

Signed, Not Like the Old Days

Dear Old Days, 

The times they are-a changin’, as Bob Dylan said—and some of us struggle with those changes. We all have an emotional attachment to the way things were when we were young. This is natural and has been going on since Plato complained about Aristotle’s generation—probably before!

Young people these days seem to be much more focused on the spirit of the law than the letter of it. I have heard a lot of young people rethinking their ideas of the Sabbath. What does the Sabbath mean? For some people, a healthy, family-centered outdoor activity such as Little League seems in keeping with the Sabbath. 

Is your real concern Sabbath-keeping, or is it church truancy? Once again we have to look at church tradition vs. church benefits. A family that attends church all year except for a few weeks during Little League season is surely receiving the benefits church can offer them. Do you miss church when you are sick or gone on vacation? Do you feel that this endangers your happiness, salvation, or church standing? Obviously, sickness or being out of town are different motivations for missing church, but the point is that missing church once in a while is surely not going to endanger anyone’s salvation or dedication. We can still receive the benefits church has to offer though we miss once in a while. 

Many of us still believe the ideal would be happy families assembling in a happy congregation every Sabbath, as eager to help as to worship. The notion of playing sports on Sabbath instead of coming to Sabbath School seems alien to those of us who sacrificed that as Sabbath-keepers. The world has changed dramatically, though, and I think we need to start circling this teaching and looking at it from different angles.

Besides, what will we gain by criticizing those who are redefining their Sabbath experience? You don’t need to look far to see that many have been chased away for good from church because others insisted on pointing out their shortcomings. Let’s pray for a more constructive solution.

Aunt Sevvy

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