The scandal of Mary’s pregnancy is an offer of hope. Her hope was in the fulfillment of a promise to come. Despite outwardly awful, wretched circumstances of “Mary’s scandal,” she carried and delivered Hope. Can you imagine the gossip? Can you bear to consider the judgment, condemnation, and ridicule of Joseph and Mary’s predicament? An unwed woman, pregnant. She names God’s spirit as the father.

Today, we are far enough removed from their scandal to adore and gush over the magical moment of Jesus’ birth. This Christmas, I found a new angle of the story to wonder at and be thankful for. Maybe you have been criticized? Have you been misunderstood? Have people jumped to conclusions about your predicament? Is there gossip about you? You are not alone.

Mary's Christmas scandal delivered hope

Jenkins, D., Schwartz, J., & Edson, A. (2021). Christmas with the chosen: The messengers. [Music video]. Loaves & Fishes Production.

Scandal and Hope

The supporting act of Mary and Joseph’s story hit me for the first time this year. At church, we watched some of Christmas with The Chosen: The Messenger (2021). I have never had a reason to consider their human, day-to-day position in the story of Emmanuel. Much iconography connected to Christmas today depicts a quaint scene of adoration, serenity, and simple worship. However, the reality was much different. It was smelly. There was fear. There was some panic. Joseph and Mary were first-time parents, after all. Who would accompany them to help with the delivery? No earthly individual we see or read about in Scripture. Everything about the setting was humble and not in a feel-good sort of way.

Mary’s Christmas Scandal
Mary and Eve, crayon and pencil drawing, Sr. Grace Remington, OCSO of the Cistercian Sisters of the Mississippi Abbey.

Mary, The Chosen

On the ride to Bethlehem, a full-term, pregnant Mary uncomfortably adjusts atop the donkey. Joseph is walking the donkey, desperate for water, and trying to plan where they can go once they reach town. Mary begins to thank Joseph for accepting her as she is, pregnant by a child who was not conceived by Joseph. She appreciates his willingness to stand by her and with her through pregnancy, delivery, and building a family and life together. He reminds her . . . reminds himself . . . he received direction from an angel of the Lord (Christmas with The Chosen: The Messenger, 2021). His unvoiced confession is that his mind was set on putting her away quietly (Matthew 1:19; Moyer, 2021).

Mary, The Outcast

Their experience was the beautiful and breathtakingly painful balance of wonder, worship, and wailing. Mary was in a tough spot, for sure, when she chose to accept the unknown. Her reckless embrace of a wild, unfettered offer is almost bizarre. One must do some speculation to consider the impact on Mary’s social relationships when she conceived the son of God.

Perhaps Joseph’s position too was handicapped as a result of their faith. What was it like for them to be in the middle of an impossible story? How was it for them to raise a family, which itself yields trials? Their story surely was received with some distrust-her words viewed as a deceitful attempt to conceal a sin . . . or sins. Their experience was one of hardship, perhaps ridicule and rejection. 

Who knows what she endured from religious kin or village elders? One can almost imagine the whispers of the women in Joseph’s family: the questions, repeated doubts, reckless judgments, ongoing contempt, and coldness. Their endless suggestions for better alternatives and disgraceful attempts to throw another before him…one who in their eyes was worthy.

It must have been unimaginably difficult; a feat of endurance, patience, and persistence to find joy in the daily hardship of life as a misunderstood, oft outwardly alone, sojourner of a story they did not author. Mary, at some point, was an outcast, a misfit, a misunderstood, distrusted character with drama and the threat of shame overcasting the beauty of her courage, faith, and commitment to God’s story. 

Mary’s Hope

Wherever your life is at this point of your journey, I trust Mary and Joseph’s experience can lend some comfort. Perhaps not immediate, but a promise nonetheless. Merry Christmas, even in the scandal. May her hope become your hope this season and the one to come.

You are not alone.

Joyful Journeys

You are not alone. Joyful Journeys Counseling offers evidence-based counseling with faith-based counselors. Our counselors offer client-centered, trauma-informed professional counseling for conflicted couples, parents, children, teens, and adults. Contact us today for a free consultation. Journey toward inner healing with a faith-based, licensed counselor at Joyful Journeys Counseling.


Jenkins, D., Schwartz, J., & Edson, A. (2021). Christmas with the chosen: The messengers. [Music video]. Loaves & Fishes Production.

Moyer, G. K. (2021, December 15). Why did Joseph decide to divorce Mary quietly and then change his mind? Busted Halo: Faith shared joyfully.,%2C%20judgment%2C%20and%20possible%20death.

Remington, G. Sr. (unknown). Mary and Eve [crayon and pencil]. Cistercian Sisters of the Mississippi Abbey.

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