Preaching has been called “truth through personality.” This is one area of the liturgy in which one person’s personality is highly involved, and in which the rest of the community listens. This listening is a moment of reflection and devotion in which the Word of God is presented to the people by a minister set apart of this purpose. The human voice speaks and it is important that the voice be one that is culturally and personally familiar to the people. The sermon is a reflection on and explanation of the texts, especially the Gospel, but it is ultimately not a didactic or overly moralistic moment. It is, in fact, not very preachy. Instead, the homily or sermon is the preaching of the Gospel one more time.
Anglicans have a very high view of and appreciation for preaching. This is evidenced by the fact that the part of the definition of church in the Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion is a congregation “in which the pure Word of God is preached” and of a careful examination of people to discern a call to preaching. God uses the voice of the preacher as a means of bringing the truth of the Gospel into the heart of the listeners and the life of the parish. It is not as if the preacher’s every word, logical construction, or illustration is inspired. But preaching is a sacramental act whereby a person like us opens up God’s Word to us. But since the act of preaching is seen more as an experience of transformative listening to the Gospel and less of a teaching moment (although much is learned), the time frame is shorter, and the emphasis is larger and more devotional in nature.
That said, there is a much variety in styles and methods and even theologies of preaching across North America and one must simply sit and listen to a preacher to begin to discern how God is using his human personality in presenting the divine truth of the redemption of the world through Jesus Christ.
Greg is the founder of Anglican Compass (previously known as Anglican Pastor). He is an Anglican Priest of the Anglican Church in North America. He served in a non-denominational church before being called into the Anglican church in 2003. He has served as an Associate Pastor, Parish Administrator, and Rector. He currently serves as the Canon to the Ordinary for the Anglican Diocese of the South.