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R&V At the Movies: Christmas with The Chosen

The Chosen (2021) © Angel Studios.

Two thousand years removed from the birth that changed the world is a lot of time and distance. With all of the pageantry and traditions we’ve picked up over the centuries surrounding Jesus’ birth, it can be hard to extract the actual story from the Christmas lights, trees, stockings, and manger scenes. Who was actually there the night Jesus was born? What was that silent night actually like?

This Christmas, you can get a new glimpse of what it was like to see God-with-us arrive, his heavenly birthed body wrapped in swaddling clothes and sleeping in a feed trough.

Christmas with The Chosen: What to Expect

The same producers of the hit TV series about Jesus, The Chosen, released a Christmas special to theaters earlier this month, called Christmas with The Chosen. The film created by Angel Studios and Dallas Jenkins, Director of The Chosen, features dozens of contemporary Christian music artists to perform hymns and Christmas carols on the set of The Chosen leading up to the premier of a special episode of The Chosen, called “The Messengers.” It ran in theaters December 1-15 and is now available for online viewing.

“The Messengers” episode airs near the end of the nearly 2-hour-long special and runs about 25 minutes. It portrays the birth of Jesus through the eyes of Mary and Joseph as they journey into Bethlehem. Leading up to this episode was a series of spoken word narrations by cast members of The Chosen as well as Christmas performances Phil Wickham, For King & Country, Brandon Lake, Maverick City Music, Cain, Matt Maher, Bryan & Katie Torwalt, Jordan Feliz, We The Kingdom, The Bonner Family, Leanna Crawford, Dawson Hollow, and One Voice Children’s Choir.

The Chosen (2021) © Angel Studios.

Finding the Love: Faithifying Your Viewing

Amidst all of the pomp and circumstance of our Christmas celebrations, how easy it can be to forget that Jesus Christ came, as the Grinch said, “without ribbons, it came without tags, it came without packages, boxes, or bags.”

I love the ribbons and tags and packages, boxes, and bags, but in Christmases past, the glitter, sequins, and sparkling lights have sometimes felt like too much, too little, maybe a little hollow, maybe a little shallow. There have been Christmases when my heart longed to fill the hollow place in my abdomen where a child had grown but suddenly stopped. There have been Christmases when the grief of a lost loved one was fresh and cloaked the season in shades of gray where the light of joy once shined bright. There have been Christmas preparations spent beside hospital beds praying for cures that didn’t come.

In the shadows of the realities of our lives, it is so good to remember that Jesus Christ entered into the world in the same way we’ve all come. Mary cried. Joseph worried. They faced the same fears of rejection and shame we each face for a million different reasons, and into that fear God came, sending his messengers ahead with the words he’d repeat himself one day, “Do not be afraid.”

God-with-us came without packages, boxes, and bags. The glitz and glamour is lovely and beautiful, but it’s secondary. It doesn’t hold a candle to the Light of the World. “The Messengers” reminds us just how mundanely sacred this moment was, how sacred and holy every birth and baby is, how much God’s image is imprinted on every single soul, how we can see God in every passing face, even mine, even yours, every single one of us a child made in the image and likeness of God, bearing his fingerprints, carrying his love. 

He is with us, even in the midst of our grief and sorrow, even in the inability to conjure another fake smile, even in our distractions. He is also with us in our glee, our joy, our delight, the warmth of friendship and the swelling fullness of love between us, with us even here, even now, whatever brightness or bleakness you’re sitting in. 

He came to a scared teenager engaged to be married to a carpenter, who both faced rejection and shame. He came, screaming and coated in blood. He came, and Mary sang a word over her son the same way mothers have sung praises and hopes for their offspring since the ancient days:

And Mary said:

“My soul glorifies the Lord  
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has been mindful
of the humble state of his servant.
From now on all generations will call me blessed,
for the Mighty One has done great things for me—
holy is his name.
His mercy extends to those who fear him,
 from generation to generation.
He has performed mighty deeds with his arm;
 he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts.
He has brought down rulers from their thrones
He has filled the hungry with good things
but has sent the rich away empty.
He has helped his servant Israel,
remembering to be merciful
to Abraham and his descendants forever,
just as he promised our ancestors.”

Luke 1:46-55 (NIV)

Sing along with Mary the freedom and revolution Jesus brought into the world this Christmas. 

Watch the full 2-hour-long special: Christmas with The Chosen.

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