On Christmas Eve my family attended a Presbyterian Church service where the pastor surprised me by speaking about angels. Three large sets of white angel wings, trimmed with gold garland, were hung over the altar that was decorated with the usual poinsettias and wreaths. Angels play an important role in the Christmas story, so why was I surprised?
Just a few years ago this same pastor stated that she wouldn't wear angel jewelry because a focus on angels distracts people from their relationship with God. And while angels are mentioned in the Bible numerous times, this is the first time I recall them being the topic of a sermon. The pastor had been inspired by a children's book about angels written by a friend of hers, and she encouraged the congregation, children and adults alike, to be open to the angelic messages we might receive.
I believe in angels because I have heard so many wonderful stories of their appearances, and because they are acknowledged in many world religions. Angels are divine beings who help to create a sense of oneness among people of different cultures and faiths.
Roman Catholics tend to place more importance on angels than members of Protestant churches. "Angels in Catholicism are intermediaries between God and humans. In addition to their role as servants and messengers, angels are also attendants to God's throne. Catholic theology outlines a hierarchy of nine choirs of angels divided into three groups: Seraphim, Cherubim and Thrones; Dominations, Virtues and Powers; Principalities, Archangels and Angels."(BeliefNet.com/Inspiration)
Most Protestants share the belief that angels are messengers from God who also offer guidance, protection, and assistance. Protestants are warned not to pray to angels the way Catholics do, but I'll bet a lot of Protestants have broken that rule since angels have become so popular in recent years.
Buddhists believe in celestial beings, also known as devas. In Tibetan Buddhism devas are sometimes considered to be emanations of bodhisattvas or enlightened beings. Different schools of Buddhism have different important devas, as they are often derived from pre-Buddhist cultures and religions and not from Buddhist philosophy. (BeliefNet.com/Inspiration
Hindus do not refer to angels, but they do believe in various spiritual beings who act as divine messengers. These include the minor gods, or devas, a name that means "shiining ones." As the pastor pointed out on Christmas Eve, the angels are clothed in light, so "shining ones" is an appropriate name for them!
Angels in Islam, or malaikah, play an essential role as messengers and intermediaries from Allah to the world, beginning with the angel Jabrai'il (Gabriel) who revealed the Qur’an, Islam's holy book, to the Prophet Muhammad. Gabriel was also one of the seven archangels in Hebrew tradition. He appears in both the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures
where he serves as the announcer of the births of John to Zechariah and Jesus to Mary. The Archangel Gabriel symbolizes the Oneness of these three major religions by his important role in each one.
I have met many non-religious people who believe in angels even though they don't believe in much else. Angels are the divine representatives that connect people in a common belief while also maintaining the bridge between heaven and earth.