When I was growing up in the late 1950s and early 1960s, Sundays in Rome were all very still and quiet except for church services.

Service stations, local stores and all stores downtown were closed. The only things open were hospitals, police and fire departments — all necessities.

The only place you saw a crowd gathering was at your local church. I did not understand it then, but I certainly do now. People in our community and around the country honored the Sabbath day with few exceptions. Other than church, some attended major league sports. Yet, one of the Ten Commandments of the Old Testament is: “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy” (Exodus 20:8).

Keeping the Sabbath is observing one day out of seven as a time for worship and rest. This practice apparently originated in creation because God created the universe in six days and rested on the seventh.

Historically, Christians observe Sunday, the first day of the week, as the Sabbath. They note that Christ arose on the first day of the week and, thereafter, the New Testament church regularly worshiped on Sunday. This day on which Jesus arose was called the Lord’s Day. Therefore, it is considered a holy day, reverent and set aside from all the other days of the week.

How times have changed.

More places are open than closed: service stations, malls, theaters, industrial plants and restaurants just to name a few. To my knowledge, the only fast food chain that does not open on Sunday is Chick-fil-a, and it is the most financially prosperous of all fast food franchises.

As for me, the most disappointing turn of events in the last decade is the fact that sports leagues have been established for children to participate in on Sundays. This causes many families to give up Sunday worship and rest to go to sports events for elementary to high school-age children. Some games start as early as 9 a.m. and many times children travel out of their home region and state to participate.

Furthermore, in addition to taking students away from church on Sunday, prayer has been taken out of our public schools.

Not honoring the Sabbath day not only breaks God’s law, perhaps it even breaks His heart. Can you imagine how God feels when we put sports, entertainment and other things before Him?

Do we have to involve our children, our most precious resource, in activities like this on Sunday for them to succeed in sports? Or, is this all about making more money as are other activities on Sunday. A greater concern is what life will be like 20 years from now when a generation of children have been raised with the idea that sports are more important than worshiping God.

What is our resolve? The scripture declares, “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land” (2 Chronicles 7:14).

Parents, take a stand. Coaches, think about what you are promoting, and let our church and community pray for our children continually.

The Rev. Carey N. Ingram is the pastor at Lovejoy Baptist Church.