By MaryKate Morse
When Jesus hung on the cross, he gave his body so our bodies could be spared. On the cross he gave his life, his privilege, his power, so we might become the sons and daughters of a living God. When white people wonder about what they might do to show solidarity with our sisters and brothers of color, I recommend that we do what the Wall of Moms do, and what Jesus did, give our bodies.
Black lives have bled out in the streets of our nation. We ought to be angry and we ought to protest. In Portland, Oregon, where I live, we have had over 50 nights of protests against racial injustice. We have federal law enforcement officers pulling demonstrators off the streets into unmarked vans, taking them to jail and questioning them without cause or access to lawyers. How do we respond to this madness? Moms found a way.
Surely he has borne our infirmities and carried our diseases; yet we accounted him stricken, struck down by God, and afflicted. Isaiah 53: 4
The Wall of Moms is an informal network of mothers who “support the civil rights movement to end police brutality by defending and supporting BLM protestors on the front line.” They do this by linking arms and forming a human chain of their mother bodies standing between the protestors and the police. These moms want to “take some physical hits in hopes our Black and Brown kids, friends, neighbors, and loved ones will be spared some pain.”
But he was wounded for our transgressions, crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the punishment that made us whole, and by his bruises we are healed. Isaiah 53:5
As a memorial to George Floyd with his last words crying out for his mother, these mothers give their bodies again that something different might be born. They take upon themselves the madness that leads to physical blows, pushing, tear gas (illegal on the war front but not on the home front), and even rubber bullets for people protesting injustice.
The Moms have two guiding principles, the one is to use their white bodies as a protective barrier, and the other is not to use their white voices. They want the focus to be on black leaders and black words and black decisions about action needed. These moms gave up their privilege to be protected and their privilege to speak. Jesus did the same. He did not demand the protection of God or use his words to judge. He simply gave his body for us.
He was oppressed and He was afflicted, Yet He did not open His mouth; Like a lamb that is led to slaughter, And like a sheep that is silent before its shearers, So He did not open His mouth. Isaiah 53:7
If they do speak, they chant a lullaby “Hands up please, don’t shoot me.” To hear this, tears at our hearts. We are reminded that we are all in this together. We are reminded that we are all sinners, and we need the Lamb of God.
All we like sheep have gone astray; we have all turned to our own way, and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all. Isaiah 53: 6
These mothers are not identified as Christians. They are simply mothers, and yet, I find what they are doing to be a profoundly sacramental act. They remind us that when the world goes mad, our most powerful response is the gift of our bodies and the quieting of our voices. We humble ourselves before God. We listen. We stand with those suffering injustice.
Photo credit: @WallOfMoms Facebook page, posted July 22, 2020.
MaryKate Morse is a professor at Portland Seminary of George Fox University as the Lead Mentor in the Doctor of Ministry program on Leadership & Spiritual Formation. She is a church planter, spiritual director, leadership mentor and coach, speaker, and author including Making Room for Leadership: Power, Space, and Influence and A Guidebook to Prayer. She is passionate about companioning and resourcing people on the front lines of ministry.