This Christmas, as we sit down with the extended family to consume more calories than we reasonably should, I want to put out a dare. I dare you not to talk about land expropriation, or about state capture, or about corruption. I dare you not to mention crime, or racial tensions. And if anyone starts that conversation, I dare you to change the subject.

Because these things need to be spoken about; but they have consumed far too much of our time and attention this year. Instead of the predictable conversations that will either end in shared misery or a family feud, let’s dare to make this Christmas different. Let’s start our conversations with the words, “I can”.

I can, for instance, see a future in which social justice and economic justice are a reality for all.

I can play a part in healing my community.

I can make a monthly contribution to an NGO.

I can sign up as an organ donor and save eight lives.

I can study further so that I can give back to my community.

I can offer my time at the local shelter.

I can care for my neighbour’s children while she looks for work.

I can forgive my father.

I can teach a skill for free.

I can spend time with the elderly.

I can listen to someone different to me and try to understand their point of view.

I can show respect for those who have less, or know less, than I do.

I can honour my spouse.

I can be a good friend.

I can love my country.

I can see potential in everyone.

The beauty of Christmas is that it celebrates the characteristics of Christ. Even those who don’t believe in Christ, long for the characteristics of Christ to be manifest: we all want peace; we all hope for forgiveness; we all desire mercy and grace. This is why Christmas is universally embraced, even if only in the symbolic forms of a tree, gifts and a jolly Santa.

There is something in us that gravitates towards goodness, kindness, gentleness and peace. So let’s not ruin Christmas by making it just another day. This Christmas, let’s use our conversations to create a real celebration.

On behalf of the IFP and my own family, I wish you and yours a wonderful Christmas.

To my fellow Believers, I remind us of John, chapter 1, verse 17: “The law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.” May grace and truth be yours this Christmas.