The two hundredth anniversary of Joseph Smith’s birth is three years past, and the hand wringing of Smith-centric sacrament meetings in December (Christmas infringement!) is mostly abated. Still, it shouldn’t be a surprise that commemorating the birth and life of the Prophet of the Restoration is part of our liturgical calendar, ad hoc and informal though it may be.
Someone close to me who planned a sacrament meeting yesterday called and asked for some references regarding Joseph Smith and his teachings on the Savior. Appropriately, Christ should be an important part of any Sacrament meeting, regardless of the topic. I thought of the Book of Mormon’s Christology, Joseph Smith’s sermons on theogony and his various testimonies of the Creator. But I also thought of one sermon he delivered on May 21, 1843, where at once, he highlighted the chasm the separates the Jesus from all individuals, himself included, but also highlighted one of his own most Christ-like attributes.
I have not an idea there has been a great many very good men since Adam There was one good man Jesus.—Many think a prophet must be a great deal better than any body else.—suppose I would condescend, yes I will call it condescend, to be a great deal better than any of you. I would be raised up to the highest heaven, and who should I have to accompany me. I love that man better who swears a stream as long as my arm, and administering to the poor & dividing his substance, than the long smoothed faced hypocrites
I dont want you to think I am very righteous, for I am not very righteous. God judgeth men according to the light he gives them. (Words of Joseph Smith, 204)
On the 23rd of this month, I will be focused not on the birth of Joseph the Prophet, but on the birth of Jesus the Messiah. As the introduction of the Book of Mormon states, “Jesus is the Christ, the Eternal God[.]” Still, I am happy to carve out some space in our services to discuss the person that poignantly testified of him and created of us a people.