Review: The Abingdon Creative Preaching Annual 2015

January 26th, 2014
This article is featured in the Stuck: Now What? (Feb/Mar/Apr2014) issue of Circuit Rider

Jenee Woodard wants her readers to look deeply into the scriptures of the Revised Common Lectionary (RCL) and to listen quietly to the voice not only of the texts themselves, but also of others who are looking and listening to the same texts. Only then, after careful conversation, does she encourage anyone to speak.

This approach to scripture defines The Abingdon Creative Preaching Annual 2015. It is not primarily a resource book, as was its predecessor (The Abingdon Preaching Annual, last published in 2012). It is rather a collection of many different types of material from a wide variety of sources, all fit together to spur conversation around the texts.

As with most lectionary-based resources, the Annual is divided according to the Sundays and other holy observances of the Christian year. Each week lists the RCL texts and provides seven brief glimpses into one or more of those texts. Woodard, who also serves as editor of, suggests that readers not rush through the entries in search of usable sermon material. Instead, she urges them to take the readings in slowly so as to foster creative conversation with the texts.

Woodard draws on the writings of John Wesley for much of the Annual’s commentary. But she also relies heavily on modern preachers, musicians, and worship planners, many of whom make their thoughts available online through lectionary websites or blogs, cited along with the author of each section.

Although the entries for each week are related, they rarely fit into the same style. Some are straightforward prose, while others are bullet point notes on one or more scripture. Some offer poetry, some images, some prayers. A few list appropriate musical selections for worship, and some—particularly from Ann Scull’s “Seedstuff” blog—briefly suggest movie clips, devotional messages, and congregational responses outside the normal routines of worship.

These different types of material are spaced throughout the book, but are not uniform from week to week. The entries for Transfiguration Sunday (February 15), for example, include many prayers and acts of worship, while Ascension Sunday (May 17) is filled with standard commentary. However, the websites noted from earlier entries will give readers a good idea of where to look online for more specific worship needs.

In the end, The Abingdon Creative Preaching Annual 2015 does not serve as a turnkey resource book from which to cut and paste content. Then again, that is not Woodard’s purpose. Her aim is rather to open new windows to the texts of the Revised Common Lectionary. The perspectives she offers—both hers and others’—invite readers to look at and listen to the text in new ways.

The Abingdon Creative Preaching Annual 2015 by Jenee Woodard, editor of publishes in April of this year.

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