What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, as the Lord assigned to each. I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. He who plants and he who waters are one, and each will receive his wages according to his labour. For we are God’s fellow workers. You are God’s field, God’s building. (1 Corinthians 3:5 - 9)
As I stand by the door at Woolhope on a Sunday morning after a service, I often look at the list which is hung on the wall above the hymnbooks. On it are the names of the Vicars (and Rectors) of Woolhope stretching back to - if memory serves - the first vicar whose name is known. Pleasingly, that name is Adam. I can’t tell you how many names there are recorded, but it is certainly in the region of ‘lots’.
My name sits at the end of that list, and there is space for more to come.
As I sit here, tapping away at my laptop, I can look up and see nine pictures ahead of me, and five to my left. There are Luther and Calvin, the great reformers. Above the door is the Countess of Huntingdon, who is not looking very well, whilst Huldrych Zwingli looks off to the left. B B Warfield smiles, eyes crinkling above his great white beard. Richard Baxter - who once turned down the job of Bishop of Hereford - points to the sky, urging us to look to Christ.
And then there are the books. In many ways, I have not said an original word to you since I’ve been here. The Bible gives me verses, and then authors from the second to the twenty-first century help me to get to grips with them. Dutchmen help form my theology, and the theologians of the seventeenth century bring it alive. There, next to me chair, is the diary of Kenneth MacRae, a minister in the Free Church of Scotland. I read and I am spurred on.
But in the midst of all these vicars, pictures and authors there is one common factor. They all bear witness to a God who gives growth to his people. Like floodlights, they illuminate Christ and don’t draw attention to themselves. I hope to be simply another in their number, pointing you to Christ. If you remember Him, and forget me, then I would consider that job done.