Count me as a very grateful beneficiary of the public service of U.S. Representative Maxine Waters. She is perceptive and persistent. If you haven’t seen this recent exchange between her and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, please take a moment to savor her awesomeness in this video.
Her office had sent him an official letter.
His office did not reply.
Her letter had asked him a question.
His office had not answered.
He was then called before the House Financial Services Committee to answer some of those same questions about the President’s ties to Russian banks.
She began her time of questioning (shortened paraphrase): “Why didn’t you answer the letter?”
His response: A prolonged string of irrelevant flattery and unnecessary formalities.
Her response: “Reclaiming my time.”
Her time. Time that was hijacked, then squandered, by him.
“Reclaiming my time” from clueless white supremacy verbal violence.
“Reclaiming my time” from the patriarchal pastimes of mansplaining and man-spreading, time-wise.
“Reclaiming my time” that — appearances and tradition to the contrary — is not your time, sir, to waste.
“Reclaiming my time” in order to free up your time to do what is yours to do.
Like answering an official letter from a congressional representative.
Like replying to her direct question with the concise truth.
Imagine us citizens “reclaiming our time” from our elected public servants. Our taxes, after all, pay for their time to be spent to “promote the public welfare” (h/t Constitution preamble).
“Reclaiming our time,” time now spent boosting poll numbers, fundraising for the next election, and keeping score in the Democratic-Republican political game.
“Reclaiming our time” to be invested on direct actions that benefit the common good.
And then . . .
Imagine us pastors “reclaiming our time” from what is not ours to do:
“Reclaiming our time” from people who are not partnering with us to live out the gospel.
“Reclaiming our time” from voices that make it difficult to hear and answer God’s call.
“Reclaiming our time” from “should” tasks that take up too much ministry time.
“Reclaiming our time” disproportionately spent on buildings, budgets and by-laws.
“Reclaiming our time” to listen and learn.
“Reclaiming our time” for spiritual practice and life-giving play.
“Reclaiming our time” to do what is uniquely ours to do according to God’s call and our ordination vows.
“Reclaiming our time,” freed from doing something more, something less, something else, someone else’s.
“Reclaiming our time,” humbly remembering that all time belongs to God.
These reflections come with immense gratitude to the wise and persistent leadership of Rep. Maxine Waters.
Turns out, we well-meaning pastors might have something in common with self-serving politicians. We have lost track of time and whose time it is anyway.
“Reclaiming my time.”
Rev. Sharon M. Temple is a United Church of Christ pastor serving in Nashville TN. She is a contributor to the RevGals book, “There’s a Woman in the Pulpit” and blogs erratically at Tidings of Comfort and Joy.
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