In his Cadbury Lectures (published under the title The Poet, The Warrior, The Prophet), Brazilian poet Ruben A. Alves describes watching a spider which constructed a cobweb in a corner of his study.
“I did not see her first move,” he observes, “the move which was the beginning of the web, the leap into the void … I can imagine that tiny, almost invisible creature, hanging alone on the wall. She sees the other walls, far away, and measures the distance between them: an empty space …
“And there is one thing only she can count on for the incredible work she is about to start: a thread, still hidden inside her body. And then, suddenly, a leap into the void, and the spider’s universe has begun …
“The spider: a metaphor of myself; I also want to weave a web over the void. But my world is not woven with anything material. It is made out of a substance more ethereal than gossamer thread, so ethereal that some have compared it to the wind: words. The human world is made with words.”
The preacher’s world is built on words. We are called by the Word. We proclaim the Word. And the gossamer thread by which we leap across the void is woven with words.
It is important for those of us called to proclaim the Word to pause and consider words — those fragile building blocks which we are given and called to give again. In the midst of our days which can be consumed by study and service, it is easy to take for granted the words that contain power. That contain life.
Words are strong arms, reaching across the void to draw us to a loving Father.
Words are rivers, flowing down from the fertile places to nourish parched and hungry lands.
Words are bridges, spanning great distances to bring new possibilities, new hopes, new life.
When Zacharias questioned Gabriel’s promise of a son, the angel said, “And, behold, thou shalt be dumb, and not able to speak, until the day that these things shall be performed, because thou believest not my words” (Luke 1:20). Words have power to bring hope or despair, life or death.
No wonder, then, that John’s triumphant prologue begins, “In the beginning was the Word …”
The Word came to Bethlehem so long ago, and we are called to be stewards of the treasure. Stewards of the words. Servants of the Word.
That is our burden and our privilege. “Glory to God in the highest.”

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About The Author

Michael Duduit is the founding publisher and editor of Preaching magazine. He is also the founding Dean of the new College of Christian Studies and Professor of Christian Ministry at Anderson University in Anderson, South Carolina. Michael is author and editor of several books, including the Handbook of Contemporary Preaching (Broadman & Holman Press), Joy in Ministry (Baker Books), Preaching With Power (Baker) and Communicate With Power (Baker). From 1996 until 2000 he served as editor of the Abingdon Preaching Annual series. His email newsletter, PreachingNow, is read each week by more than 40,000 pastors and church leaders in the U.S. and around the world. He is founder and director of the National Conference on Preaching and the International Congress on Preaching, which has been held in 1997 at Westminster Chapel in London, 2002 at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland, and 2007at Cambridge. He has been a pastor and associate pastor, has served a number of churches as interim pastor, and speaks regularly for churches, colleges and conferences.

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