I concluded my children’s sermon on Sunday with these steps, “intervene, introduce, and invite.” The encouragement I had to share from Standing Rock was how powerful it was to stand together, and in the wake of rising hate speech and threats of violent, how important it is to do so. If you see someone being bullied, intervene, don’t walk by. You don’t have to engage the bully to change the situation, you can simply introduce yourself to the one being targeted and invite them with you, away from the situation.
A few of you spoke with me afterwards about how we can do this proactively too. We don’t have to wait until we see an active bully or bigot at work. Indeed we can work to make our community resilient to the hate speech in the first place.
I have been serving as the President of United Ministries this year, the interfaith consortium of ministers serving students at the university of Virginia. I have become friends with two of my Muslim colleagues this year and they hosted our last meeting at the mosque, taking the time to show us around and even into the prayer room. We shared with each other the anxiety and fear we are reading in all of our students and we too are considering how together, we can introduce ourselves to more people and invite one another into our communities so that we make friends out of neighbors.
May it be so. Christlove and Light!