The Spoken Words of the World, Part 1

Randy Smit

READ : Genesis 1:3

Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. (v. 3 NRSV)

When I was a child my brothers and I were not always the most attentive sons. Our exasperated mother, after telling us something over and over, would cry out, “Hey, do you think I’m speaking just to hear myself talk?” She wanted to be heard. She wanted her words to take effect. Sometimes in response to a command we would ask, “But why!?” Then she would use the most famous parental justification known to humankind: “Because I said so.” suggests most human beings speak around 16,000 words per day. If you do the math that’s 5,840,000 words per year. It kind of makes me wonder—where do they all go? What do they all accomplish? Whether we’re ordering a pizza or making a promise, we hardly seem human without the ability to share what’s inside us. Our words put something of ourselves, something active and real, out into the world. Sometimes, what we say can really make a difference.

A speech act is at the center and source of everything. When God speaks for the first time, form and shape are given to an otherwise empty void. God’s living word erupts into reality, revealing the world-making power of language. God says, “Let there be light,” and it is so. Whatever God wishes to convey becomes a reality. It has been this way from the very beginning, and so it remains today.


Lord, lead us into wonder as we consider the effect of your creative words. Amen.