So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. Luke 1: 16-19 (NIV)

Christmas is supposed to be about the birth of Christ. I mean if you can get around all the Santas, lights, parties, and packages. Just a few years ago, I gave birth to a son. I took a packed bag, received an epidural, and I think the hospital room even had cable, although I never thought to turn it on. I had an abundance of doctors, nurses, pillows, and morphine. All my friends and family showed up. A few friends even waited all night behind the door for that first cry. Afterwards, I received flowers, presents, ice chips, and of course, a beautiful little boy swaddled tightly in his hospital blanket.

Mary was just a scared teenager out back in the barn. No epidural or even clean towels. I love His humble beginnings. This is the Christ child. God could have beamed him down like a character in an episode of Star Trek or at least reserved a room for Him at the inn. Instead, He showed up where we least expected Him, in a manger. Small and helpless, with only His parents and some farm animals for an audience. At Christmas we focus on Him as a baby, as purely the hope and promise that His mere appearance offers. He hasn’t conquered anything yet, and still the heavens shine, and kings come bearing gifts.

So often I forget to come and worship. Instead, I treat my Jesus like Santa Claus. I ask. Sometimes for other people but usually just for myself. Either way, I am still asking and expecting Him to deliver. It seems that I am placing my hope in His answering my requests, not just in the fact that HE IS.

I want to take a little while to remember Christ as the tiny baby swaddled in a manger. Like I held my son in the hospital those first few days. Just as a pure and precious gift. I didn’t ask him to say please or to pick up his toys. I just wanted to hold him close and memorize the moment. It makes me wonder when the last time was I just stared into the manger, not the cross, and pondered all these things in my heart, like Mary did.

Father, help me to find my hope simply in who You are and not just the amazing things that You can do.

What happens to our hope when God doesn’t deliver? Does it reside in Him or what we ask Him to do?