As I re-read the Nativity story this year, I was struck by the important role angels played. This was on my mind all the more after the recent First Presidency Christmas devotional. President Henry B. Eyring reminded us:
No recounting of the Christmas story is complete without hearing words of an angel sent to prepare the way for His arrival. At the heart of the account of the birth of Jesus Christ is the testimony of angels, as recorded by the Apostles Jesus called and ordained.
God sent the angel Gabriel to Zacharias. The angel told him of the birth to the righteous and barren Elisabeth of John the Baptist, who would prepare the way for Jesus. Mary received the same heavenly messenger to prepare her to become the mother of the Son of God, the long-awaited Messiah.
When we declare our belief in the Christmas story, we are declaring our belief that angels are real, and that they play an important role in God’s work. An angel visited the shepherds, and Joseph as well. Wise men received messages from heaven; visions and dreams were also part of how God communicated to those who played a key role in the Nativity story.
Yes, we believe in angels. We believe in communication from God through various means.
Our belief in angels and heavenly communication, as members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, doesn’t stop with the Bible, however.
Today is December 23. For Mormons, this day is significant. It’s the birthday of Joseph Smith, whom we believe to be a prophet. We do not worship him, but we believe he had an important role to play in helping the world prepare for Jesus’ second coming. The patterns seen in the Nativity of heavenly messages from heavenly messengers have played out again in more modern times.
Again, from President Eyring:
[Joseph Smith’s] unwavering testimony that the angel Moroni, an ancient prophet, came to him is in perfect accord with the experiences of the Wise Men; of Zacharias; Elisabeth; Mary, the mother of our Lord; Joseph, and innumerable others…. By personal appearance of the Father Himself and of the Son, and through angels, He has restored the Church of Jesus Christ in the latter days. He has called prophets and apostles to guide us to safety in this life and eternal life in the world to come.
To read more of the story of the restoration of the Church of Jesus Christ in the latter days, and of the authority held by ancient prophets and apostles, and of the role of angels in the process of this restoration, see the Joseph Smith page at mormon.org, as well as FAQs about Joseph Smith.