Editor’s Note: On this sixteenth day of our Advent blog series “Hidden Joys,” FMS Board Member Dr. Hans Dethlefs encourages us to place our hope in God’s promises.

Promise is a powerful word as we await the coming of Christ during Advent. Promise is hope personified. When we receive a promise from another person, we place our hope in that person. We trust that what they have said will come to pass.

The whole of the Old Testament comes down to a single promise – a Covenant – “I will be with you always.” The New Testament heralds the fulfillment of that promise: Emmanuel, God with us. The incarnation and the birth of Christ brings this great promise to fruition in the most concrete of ways. God comes to us in the person of His son.

The Advent season is our opportunity to personally fulfill this same promise. Our Christian calling is to allow God to be incarnate in our words and actions. When we speak to others, does it give them a sense of God’s presence? Do our actions reflect an embodiment of Jesus. Does the Eucharist that we consume manifest in what we say and do?

Jesus admonishes us to not make vows, but to “…let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes’ and your ‘No’ be ‘No’” (Matthew 5:37).  This is because the only promise that matters, the promise that undergirds all hope is that God is with us. We cannot add anything to this with our own promises, we can only say ‘Yes’ to the decisions that reveal God’s presence and ‘No’ to the attitudes and choices that obscure God’s presence.

My Advent prayer for each of us is that when strangers, foreigners, friends, and family experience our presence, they say to themselves “Wow, God kept His promise.”