How do Amish keep the Sabbath holy?
The Amish stand out in this world for many reasons. One is their reverence for the Sabbath day.
This is something that even those who know little of the Amish are aware of. Even their “No Sunday Sales” business signs advertise this key belief.
While most Christians shift gears and attend church on that day, Amish take it further, both in degree, and in their vigilance for keeping the sanctity of Sunday.
I have observed how Amish keep the Sabbath holy in many ways. On Sunday, Amish may be reluctant to travel, do more than the absolutely necessary chores, even to accept food paid for on that day by non-Amish people.
Here is a guiding passage from the devotional Rules of a Godly Life:
On the Sabbath especially take note of the wonderful works of God; of the creation and governing of the world, and of our Redemption. Make the Sabbath a day of prayer, of listening to and studying sermons; make it a day of holy thoughts and holy conversation. In this way you can keep the Sabbath holy, as is so often commanded in God’s Word. If one does not keep the Sabbath holy it is certain that he will also take into contempt all the other commandments of God.
I’ve been fortunate to spend numerous Sundays with Amish, in church and out. I can say there is a peace and calmness that settles upon otherwise bustling Amish homes on this day. A busy culture grinds to a halt, and thoughts turn to God and family (even moreso than the norm).
The Amish yardstick
What does keeping the Sabbath holy mean to other Christians? The answer is less clear. What about beyond the obvious admonitions to treat the day as one of worship and rest? Is it okay to watch television, or phone a friend on that day?
What about eating out?
Individual Christians will have different responses to those questions (some Amish even might). For example, I usually don’t call Amish friends on Sunday, when Monday would suffice. But I’ve never really given a second thought if I feel I need to ring up non-Amish friends. I guess that makes me less devout than the average Amish person, but I think I knew that already.
When you spend a lot of time learning about a religious group like the Amish, you inevitably drift into using them as a yardstick against your own life. I think that can be healthy, but to a degree. I’m not Amish and won’t ever be. But at least the Amish example gives me something to think about.
My family and I used to spend Sunday afternoons driving around Parke County, Indiana, enjoying the beautiful rural setting. I was very shocked when, a couple of years ago, I came across a group of young Amish men playing hockey on a Sunday afternoon.
Interesting James, games do get played on Sundays, sometimes adults even help out the children. And of course there is volleyball in the context of Sunday singings. These things are typically accepted and not really that unusual to see. Going to play in a uniformed league may be a different story though.
some amish don’t allow any active games on sunday,while others will go as far as organizing volleyball or softball games sunday afternoon and\or evenings.
The only thing is that Sunday is not the sabbath, Saturday is the seventh day of the week and the Hebrew word “Sabbath” comes from thr root of the word seven.
Sunday keeping was instituted by Roman Bishops and Emperor Constantine in 342 A.D. The Sabbath is a noun, it is a part of Creation Gen 2:1-2, and cannot be arbitrarily changed by pagan men of Rome.
It is not the Jewish Sabbath as there was not a Jew alive at creation and Jews came thousands of years later from a Sson of Jacob called Judah.
It is one of the 10 commandments written with the very finger of Yahweh, the Creator, and Yahshua our Savior called Himself “The Master or Lord of the Sabbath day” (Saturday).
Not to argue but to encourage you to read your bible, and if so you cant find Sunday worship only the Sabbath (Heb 4:8-9)
Therefore it is the duty of the people of Yahweh to keep the Sabbath.
How to keep Sabboth
There was not a Jew alive at creation when Jehovah created the seventh day for man to rest. Do not work, buy nor sale in that day. In Egypt the israelites worked under hard bondage and were not allowed to keep the sabbath day but the bible says to obey your master. God did not hold them responsible just as we are not held responsible today. God delivered them from Egypt and he will deliver us again permenantly from this bondage we live in today. It is either work or be fired and starve your family to death. Jesus did teach to do the necessary things and gave an example by pulling your ox out of the ditch. One thing I do like about the omish is that they observe the whole day as some only observe part of it. Omish keep it on sunday while the seventh day is saturday. Any one who reads the bible closely can see that the day ends at night when it is time to go to bed. Not clean house you would normally do morning. All they really do is switch their housework from morning to evening. So if they still do housework every day then which day did they keep?
yes the Sabbath rules confuse me and it shouldn’t.. but when the 24-hour period overlaps from one day to the next regarding the Sabbath from Friday evening to Saturday and ending at the evening.. when the calendar we are used to is from midnight to midnight.. that’s what confuses me because it also involves two dates. our world is not that congenial with Saturday and most of the Christian churches celebrate the day of rest and Worship as Sunday !!! what have I been doing all this time growing up with my family considering and holding Sunday is that holy reverent day… and working on Saturday or going out.. so yes I’m confused about this
I just wanted to say you are absolutely correct and worded it beautifully. I am so shocked that so many are deceived and can’t study scripture and realize this special day. I am not a seventh day Adventist in fact I consider myself non denominational. To me they are all man made religions and I choose to follow Christ and learn scripture from studying and praying and trusting in God to show me the truths. God bless the Amish and every denomination but trust no man that he may deceive you. Instead trust in the Lord only. Be blessed in Yeshuas holy name Amen
you are exactly right. It IS the duty of “all that are called by His name”
Examine my life
This article made me stop and examine the way I keep the Sabbath holy. I realize I don’t obey this instruction of God at all. I do the same things on Sunday that I would any other day. I am going to make some changes in my life to seek the peace and calm of the Sabbath.
We need yardsticks
I pray that my family can move towards this as a model. We badly need it. On the other hand, my husband is away from home for twelve hours a day M-F, Saturday often involves a project, home maintenance, errands, or visiting. Sunday is the only day we have to get caught up on housework and ready for the work week. My husband is a teacher so there are usually lesson plans, etc. to write. I am striving to get more accomplished while he is gone so that the load is lighter on weekends, but it doesn’t take much to “derail the train.” I wonder if any readers who have experience with plain living (daily chores and many tasks done by hand) would have any advice.
What a great thought!
Isn’t it odd that as “English” people we complain if asked to work extra, like weekends or on Sunday. But, we will then turn around and go out to eat Sunday right after church. Do we ever think of those people who have to work because of our own selfishness? My Grandmother got up early on Sunday, and cooked dinner before we left for church. Then the family was expected to spend the rest of the day at home and together. How far away from traditions we have gotten. Thank you Eric for reminding me “to keep the Sabbath.”
This is a great point Tim. When I was a teenager I used to work at McDonald’s and on Sundays, like clockwork, church goers would stop in right after church. At one point I asked to have this day off, only to be denied by my Manager. However, I wonder if fewer people showed up on Sunday if they would have really kept the doors opened. I doubt it.
I don’t blame this at all on my employer, if I would have pushed the issue, I am sure I could have gotten Sunday off. However, I chose not to complain about it.
This article brings back memories of when I was young, visiting my Grandmother & Aunts & Uncles on the farm in North Dakota. Sundays were spent only doing the necessary chores, going to church, then after church, visiting with friends or family. Sunday’s “supper” was prepared on Saturday, so all the women had to do was warm it up. Sadly, these things were lost as we grew up, but thanks to articles like these, I’m slowly trying to get some of them back. Thank you Eric.
Glad if this was useful Karen, and anyone else that found it so.
Generally speaking trying to match the way Amish do things pound-for-pound usually doesn’t work for a number of reasons, one of which is that the community structure is so intrinsic to Amish Christianity.
That said, I think some Amish practices can inspire changes or challenge our ways of thinking for those who want to deepen their religious lives or make other changes (concerning dependence on technology, simplicity of lifestyle, etc).
I don’t think God ordered the Sabbath to make it hard for us or restrict us from doing necessary things but…He ordered it because He knew humanity gets overwhelmed and too busy and needs to rest. I LOVE our “day of rest” once a week. Without it life would get dull, boring, and overwhelming, and the same hum-drum monotonous drag! Just knowing I can take the day off and rest, read, go to church, or take a drive through the beautiful Rockies, etc. and not have to feel guilty if I’m not working myself thin, is VERY refreshing! To those of you who desire this freedom one day a week, make a CHOICE to do it, then make it a “no option” to do otherwise. 🙂 It will bring rest and freedom and give you time to enjoy the things you are too busy to enjoy other days of the week! (Just sharing our experience.)
I too was raised with the instruction that you weren’t supposed to do any unnecessary work on the Lord’s Day. It was so nice to sit out on the porch, to visit, or even get a nap. Although I try to never hold anyone to the same measure I hold myself, I still can’t help but feel “something” (maybe I only take notice) when I see someone mowing their yard on a Sunday afternoon. But the truth is, since I began studying the Bible more closely (since my early 20’s), I have never been completely convinced that the Holy Sabbath was replaced by the Lord’s Day. I do not believe that the Old Testament was replaced by the New, so it’s one of those things I’m not 100% sure about; However, I attend Church on Sunday.
There’s lots of enthusiastic debate about the subject. I did a quick search. Here’s a shorter one (I don’t know the affiliation):
Amish not perfect on Sunday
To add a little to what I hinted at in the post, I think that the above depiction of Amish treatment of Sundays is generally valid, though things may get fudged around the edges–with business transactions even being done in a roundabout way on the Sabbath.
For example, milk pickups that are supposed to be done late Saturday or wee hours Monday may actually bleed into Sunday. A Facebook commenter claimed (link below) that Amish in Holmes County hire drivers on Sunday. If the driver were paid on another day, this may be staying within the letter of the law. This commenter also said she was asked to buy ice and bread while attending an Amish service, for what it’s worth.
The Sabbath Day at Belle Center
I asked Mark about Sunday for the Amish at Belle Center. He said that, of course, no business is done on Sunday. Van drivers would be the exception because if travel is done to another community to go to church there, the van driver must be paid. Otherwise, no business on Sunday. Mark said that in his community the only means of transportation on Sunday are to walk or by horse and buggy. The exception being travelling so far away that a van driver must be hired. No bicycles on Sunday. Mark said that sometimes if a particular family is hosting church in their district, has young folks in the family, and is going to host the Sunday evening singing; then often they will invite the youth in the community to come over and spend the afternoon. If there are only boys in the family, just boys will be invited. If just girls in the family, just girls will be invitied. If both girls and boys are invited, then they stay separate from each other. Often times the afternoon will be spent singing favorite hymns. Board games will be played. Some card games such as Uno, Phase 10, etc. Traditioinal cards (hearts, clubs, spades, diamonds,) are forbidden. No games involving money are to be played. A lot of Amish families, Mark said, spend Sunday afternoons visiting others. Or, if the family opts to go home, then well deserved Sunday afternoon naps are indulged.
Last evening I didn’t get to be with Mark because the young folks in his district hired drivers to take them to a local nursing home so that the young folks could sing and visit with the old folks there. Tonight, Mark will be going to the Christmas program over at the east district’s school, Rushcreek Christian School.
Sunday at Belle Center continued
I forgot to mention that Mark said that sports such as volleyball, baseball, soccer or anything like that are not permitted. I think croquet is allowed in the summer. I seem to remember seeing that but it may have been during the week I saw it. Sorry, I’m 90. I can’t remember everything.
Don, you probably do a better job of it than I do (age 34).
Thanks as always for these great updates from Mark’s community. Obviously there are different ways both of being Amish and observing the Sabbath. And there will be disagreement as with so many things in this society.
To further complicate things I’ve also been hearing via comments off the site that most Christians are doing it on the wrong day to begin with.
Erik, you have pricked me again with the thorn that got me in 2003 when I left the Amish by bringing up this issue.
To most the Amish of the Midwestern traditions(Ohio, Indiana and daughter communities), Sunday is a day of rest, in which no business is done in their businesses. It is NOT a holy day, unless it is something special like Easter, Pentecost, etc. If you have a piece of furniture at a craftsman’s shop, you cannot pick it up on Sunday, even if it is already paid in full. The Amish will not unlock the door for you to pick it up yourself. BUT, that same Amish man will go out to his phone shack and call a professional driver to drive him and his family to visit friends and/or family at a distance the Amish man deems too far to use a buggy. Often they return home and pay the driver that day. I confirmed this entire scenario with several different Amish ministers and lay people in Northern Indiana. To me this is hypocrisy. It is too much for me to consider joining any Amish church that does not forbid it. Those that do forbid it are of only the most conservative sects and I could not join them either. As Don Curtis wrote earlier today, His son Mark’s Amish church engages in this activity, therefore it is just another Amish church I could never join without severely compromising my conscience.
I am not so masochistic here that there is no way drivers could not be used at all. If there was a medical emergency, go get a driver, hurry. If there is a funeral and there is no other way to get to that funeral, then go get a driver, it is a special, unplanned event. My issue is with the use of drivers for visiting or traveling that could otherwise be done on Monday through Saturday. I discussed this with a 82 yr old Nor. Ind. Amish Bishop this past September and he lamented over what I was saying. He got a far away look to him and he said it all began when we started working the factories. The factories made us be there Monday morning and we did things Amish had never done to satisfy the bosses. I was talking to a lay person some weeks later and he thought there was nothing wrong with it as long you went to church where you were visiting. Another minister wanted me to come to his church and forget about the conservative Amish, but when I told him my beliefs about hiring drivers on Sunday, he would not even commit to allowing me to visit and talk again.
I guess we all have our opinion on this issue as to whether Sunday is anything special at all to Christians, but for me, it is God’s Holy day for man to worship Him. Completely.
In 2003, no Amish could think of a community that did not hire drivers, but allowed the thing I was not willing to give up at that time. For that reason, I could not find a Amish community that I could move to, so I left the Amish. I have come to grips with the issues in the community I was in then, and I am strongly considering returning there, if only there was land to buy within buggy distance.
Lance, as always I appreciate your take too…did not intend to prick you or anyone with this topic. And I do sympathize with you reading your comments because I have gathered over time that you have found yourself in quite a difficult position. There didn’t seem to be a church that quite fits what you were looking for, or at least that has been my impression. It sounds like you are on the way to finding it now though.
The Bishop’s reaction and the “far away look” you describe…how many of that generation get a far away look these days, I wonder. Especially in communities that have experienced a lot of change. This seems a common theme in Amish cautionary tales I’ve read.
Lance, did you mention in earlier post that you knew the new community in Mora, MN?
As with most religions, there is hipocrisy among the Amish. As fallible humans, I doubt if there are many (or ANY) among us who could “hold absolutely true” to the tenets of whatever religion/”church” we belong to. We are not “God”; we are not, nor can we ever BE, perfect.
My mother used to go to 6:30 a.m. Mass on Sundays (as I grew up in the ’50’s-’60’s.) She went alone, so that she’d be home to cook “dinner” (which is the mid-day meal, as with the Amish).My father, sisters and I (when I wasn’t “sick”) went to 10 a.m. Mass. We never all went together (strange, huh?). But it was important that we (and grandparents, cousins & an aunt or uncle or two) spent time eating “dinner” (lunch) as a family. Back then, most stores (except maybe bakeries) weren’t open on Sundays. We didn’t “work” on Sundays—unless you were a woman/housewife like my mother—then you truly did “work” (as you would other days—maybe moreso) cooking a large mid-day meal for the extended “family,” and cleaning up afterwards (with possible help from other women). Go figure! I could never understand why “women’s work” wasn’t considered “real work” on Sundays! That’s probably one more reason why I left my childhood religion.
My “holy” time is taken in bits & pieces throughout the week, not on a particular day (should it be “Sabbath” as in after 6 p.m. Saturday, or “Sunday”?) I know how important it is to “rest” (and not just physically) and connect with “my” God. I just don’t adhere to any church’s strict ordinance. I think God still loves me, but that’s my own opinion/heartfelt feeling.
How easy it is to be critical of others. That is what many look for. Something to degrade those who are doing the best they can. We are not perfect. Only Jehovah is perfect. He placed us here in a wicked earth with the devil on our heels. We are running and trying to escape the evils of the world. The temptations the devil throws our way. Yep we will fall short and every one is watching to carry the message to as many as the phone will reach.
We have always tried to keep the Sabbath holy.
Church is a given and we don’t do anything that would cause someone else to work. It’s the idea that they are then able to worship or not as they choose. In my early 20’s I worked at a Staples store and after a few months it was closed on Sunday because so few people came in. It was so nice to see a community with that value.
We often play games or go somewhere as a family, to the beach or a walk or another family’s house.
Although, we still usually watch tv or use the computer, we try to keep it “family friendly” and do it together.
Sunday afternoons could sometimes be long and boring if we didn’t do something, but I’m following this tradition and it makes for a good family day of rest.
I have Amish friends where I’m comfortable and they’re
comfortable with me stopping by anytime for a short chat, usually
in late afternoon or early evening after the chores are done.
I’ve done this many times on a weekday or Saturday. However, I
wouldn’t even think about stopping by on a Sunday, unless I
was invited to do so. Although they haven’t said so, I feel that
is a day they want to save for visiting with their relatives and
church members. I share my copy of the weekly Budget newspaper
with them. If it’s a weekday or Saturday, I just go to the house
and give them the paper. If it’s a Sunday that I’m in their
area, we have this agreement that I’ll leave it in their produce
stand by the road in a plastic bag and they go out to get it later
in the day.
It is interesting how different churches and religions respect the Sabbath differently. I believe it pointless and unproductive to judge another church as “hypocrites”; we’re all hypocrites about something.
In the ultra-Orthodox Jewish community, many are VERY serious about not performing any work on their Sabbath. In New York City, this leads to some unusual practices: for example, some apartment buildings have a “Shabbat elevator” that is programmed to stop on every single floor so that the observant can avoid the “work” of pushing an elevator button on the Sabbath. Likewise, some may use a refrigerator, but remove the light bulb from inside it to avoid turning on a light by opening the refrigerator.
In the end, each of us seem to come to our own answer of how to respect the divine while maintaining a temporal existence.
I’ve heard stories along these lines and always found them fascinating Ed.
Your last line seems to sum up the way things are, although that fact won’t eliminate people disagreeing–the way things always have been and always will be 🙂
I haven’t read your post to Mark, Lance. He would probably have been offended to have his church called hypocritical. How hypocritical is it to condemn a church on one point while staying in the “World?” To me it’s like a man cast adrift on the ocean complaining that he doesn’t like the color of the lifeboat and refuses to climb aboard. Rather than cause problems in an Amish church maybe you’d better just keep looking or start your own church where everything will suit you.
I did ask Mark in what circumstances that the Amish travel on Sunday. He replied that it is not done in the Belle Center for just casual visits. Belle Center is isolated from all of the other Amish churches that it fellowships with. He said the nearest New Order Amish churches are in Holmes County about 2 1/2 hours away. He said that ministers from there will come to Belle Center, by invitation, to preach. They will bring a van load with them to help defray costs. Sometimes ministers from Belle Center will be invited to preach in Holmes County and will take a load with them for the same reason. He also said that at times young folks from other communities will come to Belle Center to visit. They usually come on a Friday or Saturday and stay over until after the Sunday evening singing. Then they go home. I guess these folks could stay overnight and leave on Mondy morning or the preachers could come Saturday evening and stay the night. However, I guess that according to the convictions of these Amish it is alright to do this kind of traveling. I know that if they are on the road Mark has said that they will pack food and water so that they don’t have to stop at a restaurant.
First of all, since when was the Sabbath Day on Sunday? According to the bible it was the last day of the week; also known as Saturday. On another note, that was under the Jewish law, the Old Testament. In keeping with the New Testament, there is no command to “keep the sabbath holy”.
Read these Bible verses: Mt 28:1, Mark 16:1-2, Lu 24:1, John 20:1, but be sure to go online and read the Young’s Literal Translation, or just copy this entire link to a new tab or window:
Be sure to read the Young’s literal translation text. The important words are sabbaths(plural, the Greek IS plural, so should the english be), when the change happens(early Sunday morning), that one sabbath type(Jewish) is ending and that another sabbath type(Christian, on Sunday) is beginning. Notice that ‘week’ is not in the literal translation, nor is it in the Greek, so it should not be in the KJV, NIV, RSV, Luther, etc, but it is. ?
Young’s literal translation is the only English translation I can find that matches the Greek Textus Receptus. All others do not compare to the original text. The only correct High German translation is what the Amish call the ‘Lancaster’ Bible in the Luther translation, and that is only partially a match. Several other ‘Luther’ translations are like the English versions. Why? Excellent question. Maybe God is using it as a end times testing program to find who is truly interested in truth or something else.
The point is that God changed the ‘Sabbath’ day and nature. There are still 6 days for regular daily work, and one day for doing the works of God, ie the works of faith, such as worship, evangelizing, Bible reading, etc.
I do not know of a single denomination that shares this view, but I prefer to read the Bible for what is actually says, instead of what churches or people opine that it should say. There is much more to this subject than this little comment. This is not a doctrine I made up, I was taught it elsewhere, and find that it is Biblical even if not taught everywhere.
I found this post and all comments thought provoking. The comment about how the Jewish observe, I found interesting…escpecially since I just finished the book Unorthodox. It is about a girl who is from a Hasidic Jewish community in Brooklyn and their STRICT customs and traditions. It is an excellent read and sometimes ththe Amish and strict Jewish communities remind me of eachother with their strict dress code, observance of the Sabbath, closed off to the secular world. I am in awe and astonished and a bit envious of them. Feels like God is their first and last thought and all the thoughts in between. The way they pass this down from generation to generation is amazing.
According to the Holy Bible, the Sabbath is from sunset Friday to sunset Saturday. The Catholic Church took it upon themselves “to transfer the sanctity of the Sabbath to Sunday” in an effort to combine church and state during Constatune’s reign. This is documented in historical references as well as the Catholic Catechism guide.
According to the bible the sabbath is a sanctified day to The Lord to not work, buy nor sale. It was and is the seventh day . And yes it is a day. People should pick a full day but they don’t. They do their house work every day by simply doing it Saturday after 6 o’clock instead of the earlier. Food still cooked, bed made etc 7 days a week. I think Amish keep a full day. Bed made 6days a week.
I’m Amish and I have never heard that there is anything about doing housework after 6:00 PM. We care for our animals on Sunday, which is the 7th day of the week since the first day is Monday, but housework on Sunday? No… not in our home or community.
saturday is the sabbath day.
they are profaning the Sabbath by working on the Sabbath day and keeping sunday holy… net gut
Lord's day vs the Sabbath
The day of the Lord or the Lord’s day is NOT a conspiracy theory connected to the Catholic Church.
If you are a Jew you are obligated to keep the Sabbath on a Saturday because you don’t believe in the coming of the Messiah and you are still under the Law of Moses.
We who believes in the resurrection of our Lord Jesus on a Sunday know that the day Jesus where raised from the dead is the day we keep holy. This is the Sunday that we keep holy and in remembrance of what Jesus died on the Cross for our sins. So also did the early Christian Church in the Bible in Acts preaching the gospel on Sundays, on the first day of the week.
Therefore if you want to honour the Sabbath (on a Saturday) by all means do it but you do it under the law of the Jews before Jesus came. But if you honour (and keep it Holy) the Lord’s day (Sunday) you do it to remember the day Jesus where raised from the dead.
Test everything in the scriptures. . ..
Acts 17:11 (NIV)
“Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.”
Sunday is not the Biblical Sabbath
You should know the history of our Christian religion
By his passion, death, and ressurection our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, made “all things new”.this newness is represented by a “new Sabbath”. The Ressurection plus the birth of our new life and religion (Penticost) took place on a Sunday. As the 1st followers of Christ kept holy this 1st day of the week with prayer and the “breaking of Bread” so we keep the 1st day of the week holy. It represents the eighth day.7 means completion; 8 means “perfection”.Sunday represents the the 8th day ….the NEW CREATION.We rest in the peace of our risen messiah! In turn we worship and refrain from any unneeded work like shopping. Beautiful family meals are a way of celebrating the joy of this “New Sabbath” so to prepare and enjoy lovely meals should be a way to honor our Sunday Sabbath….the “New Christian Sabbath”.
We as Christians are to rest in the Lord EVERYDAY NOT just on Sunday. If you look in the Strong’s on the word Sabbath it means to rest. Even Jesus talked about this in: Matthew, Make, Luke and John. When He talked and when He went to the temple as well. I have done my research about the Amish and on YouTube as well. Byran Denlinger did a video called: The Amish Exposed and shared a book that a man wrote and you can even look it up for your self. Prey tell me what gives a preacher/ Bishop a right to tell people or the people in the Amish community on when NOT to have sex on certain holidays if you are married. Plus why are the people in an Amish community Not allowed to have/study God’s Word in their own home and in their own time. We ARE to study God’s Word to show ourselves approved, it’s in the bible in 2 Timothy 2:15. Yes God DID rest on the seventh day, however 1 day with man is a 1000 yrs to God and a 1000 yrs to God is 1 day with man. If I was you I would do my research and the history behind the Amish, even watch some YouTube videos.