Filming for season three of the popular internet series “The Chosen” will begin in Spring 2022, but fans won’t have to wait that long to get their fix because a brand new Christmas episode of the show is now available, thanks to the creator of the series, Dallas Jenkins.
Capitalizing on the opportunity to create content before the third season begins filming, Jenkins created “Christmas with the Chosen: The Messengers,” which includes a 35-minute episode dramatizing the birth of Christ along with musical performances, interviews, and commentaries from the show’s actors.
The Christmas special was planned to have a 10-day run in theaters nationwide starting Dec. 1. However, the showings are now extended until Dec. 21, according to Fathom Events, the special’s theater content distributor.You can search for a theater near you showing the special by visiting Fathom's webpage.
If you happen to miss the special in theaters, it will be available for free to live stream sometime after its debut on the big screen. However, theatergoers reap the benefit of seeing a bonus 15 minutes of filming, which won’t be included in the free version.
“Christmas with the Chosen: The Messengers” will “arouse in you a desire to worship" Jesus, Jenkins told CNA in an interview.
Performances and interviews with Christian musicians include: 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 episode itself aims to tell the story of the birth of Christ through the eyes of Mary and Joseph.
The musicians perform Christmas songs on the set of “The Chosen,” and they even come together for a final joint performance at the end of the special. Segments of their interviews show the musicians answering questions about faith and Christmas.
Jenkins told CNA the idea of including musicians in the special stemmed from his interactions with artists who are fans of the show. One artist originally asked to shoot a music video on the set of “The Chosen,” sparking the idea in Jenkins.
Jenkins, with a vision to make “The Chosen” more than a show, wanted to bring a mix of musicians in because he hopes “that the show leads people to worship.”
“That's the natural result of knowing and loving Jesus more,” he said. “So when we can create worship experiences through the lens of ‘The Chosen,’ we want to do that.”
Fans of the show will see many familiar faces during the episode, including Raj Bond and Sara Anne Burciaga, who played the roles of St. Joseph and the Blessed Virgin Mary in the show’s pilot episode portraying the nativity, titled “The Shepherd.”
The episode also features "the older" Mary, as Jenkins calls the character of the mother of Jesus played by actress Vanessa Benavente in seasons one and two. In the new Christmas episode, she tells the story of Jesus' birth 10 years after the events of “The Chosen,” when Jesus is no longer on earth, Jenkins said.
Jenkins said that he believes “that this portrayal of the birth of Christ is a portrayal that greatly honors, and exalts the humble beginnings of Jesus’s life here on earth.”
Both Blessed Virgin Marys in the show are shown praying the Magnificat in the episode.
“Even though I happen to be an Evangelical,” Jenkins said, “I believe that this episode will continue the response that my Catholic brothers and sisters have had to the show so far, which is to appreciate both the lofty and epic joy that we try to capture in our love of Jesus combined with the lowly and humble beginnings of him on earth and I think there's something we share and celebrate together.”
Those lowly and humble beginnings of Jesus can be clearly seen in the episode as St. Joseph can be seen shoveling what appears to be animal droppings in the stable where the Blessed Virgin Mary prepares to give birth.
Something that will jump out to many Catholics during the birth of Christ scene is the portrayal of the Blessed Virgin Mary in excruciating labor pains.
Although Jenkins acknowledged that the “consensus” in the Catholic Church holds that the Blessed Virgin Mary is sinless, he called debates about whether she experienced pain or discomfort in child birth “far more nuanced” in beliefs among Catholics.
“I do believe that there's no reason why Mary's birth would have been any different from any other human being's birth and the arguments that I've heard to the contrary, I just don't happen to share,” he added.
There is discussion in the church as to whether the Blessed Virgin Mary experienced pain during childbirth, as it is not a dogma of faith. The perpetual virginity of the Blessed Virgin Mary is, however, a dogma of faith.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church says that, “The deepening of faith in the virginal motherhood led the Church to confess Mary's real and perpetual virginity even in the act of giving birth to the Son of God made man. In fact, Christ's birth ‘did not diminish his mother's virginal integrity but sanctified it.’ And so the liturgy of the Church celebrates Mary as Aeiparthenos, the ‘Ever-virgin’" (CCC 499).
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Jenkins noted that there will be times when not everyone will agree with the way he chooses to portray biblical events on the show.
“I do hope that Catholics, even when there are moments in the show that don't line up with how they would portray it, that they're still able to see that we both love the same Jesus,” Jenkins said.Jenkins said that “we both want scripture honored” and want God to be supreme. He added that the show, “more than any other show that’s out there right now,” faithfully honors Jesus.
Joseph Bukuras is a journalist at the Catholic News Agency. Joe has prior experience working in state and federal government, in non-profits, and Catholic education. He has contributed to an array of publications and his reporting has been cited by leading news sources, including the New York Times and the Washington Post. He holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from the Catholic University of America. He is based out of the Boston area.