, , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

20160828_202424Most often when a pastor retires from the ministry, he transfers his membership to another congregation, or at a minimum, evaporates into the sunset in his RV and is rarely seen or heard from again.

Other times he sticks around. Although it works in certain circumstances, this is rarely helpful to his successor.

There’s no need to worry about it in my case. When I retire from the ministry as a pastor, you will never see me again.

Don’t get me wrong. I love my congregation and the people who comprise her, and I’ll miss many of them. But having said this, don’t count on me being around for anything. I will not be reachable in cases of marital trouble. I will not be available to perform your wedding. I won’t be nearby to baptize your kids. I won’t be available to guest preach or make hospital visitations.

As long as I can afford it, I will be in an undisclosed location far away and my life and ministry efforts will be considered as a singular memory in the life of an ongoing congregation. I will be like the whisky of the Towiemore Distillery—God willing, a pleasant memory, something that served a precise purpose during a particular era, but no more. As it should be. Because none of it is about me. I am not the ministry. I am one of countless who have streamed along in it. Soli Deo Gloria.

Sitting here and sipping what The Lost Distillery Company has so carefully summoned with this Towiemore release, as with other editions they’ve resurrected, I am willing to surrender the necessity of looking back upon the peculiarities of individuals and their service. But let’s keep it straight, yes? With each sip, it’s kind of like saying, “Remember when someone would answer a question in Bible study and Pastor Thoma would say something funny like, ‘It hurts me deeply to hear you say such things’?” Sure, it’s fun to recall, but it is on the opposing shore of a great expanse from whispering something like, “I wish the new pastor was more like ol’ Pastor Thoma. Maybe we could ask him to come back and teach a Bible study.”

If you can find him, you can ask. But since I’m him, just know that the answer is no. And perhaps in the meantime, if you catch yourself thinking or saying such things, it’s time for you to transfer your membership in order to eliminate the troubling factor of comparison and let the new guy do his job. As long as he isn’t steering the ship into the rocks that destroy the fundamental liturgical, theological, and confessional identity and nature of the parish, leave him alone to work. Love him. Support him. Pay him a living wage if you can. After a while, you’ll begin to wonder how anyone else could ever fill the new guy’s shoes.

Now before I stray much further, let me present to you the memories of a former minister… (eh hem)… I mean, a former distillery.

If indeed The Lost Distillery Company has matched the whisky that was produced by the Towiemore, then the world of blended Scotch whisky lost a masterful servant when the distillery closed in 1931.

The nose of the Towiemore is a mild transport of most everything noted on the label. I sensed the vanilla and almonds, but I think I’d suggest plums instead of peaches. I say this now that I am much more familiar with certain Japanese whiskies.

The palate is a rich miscellany of ripened and sugary nectarines imbrued with hint of salted butter and a slight hint of alcohol burn—which is not a negative, but rather a helpful balancer.

The finish is a short, crisp, and precise account of the soaked fruit. Personally, I would not recommend adding water to this whisky, that is, unless you want to amplify what is a concealed syrupy character.

In all, kudos to The Lost Distillery Company. This is a fine replica. At least I think it is. I guess no one really knows for sure. Although, if it is, then the folks who lived and died under its ministry were well served, and we can rest assured that the modern chargés d’affaires of Scotch whisky are privileged to dwell among history’s respectable attendants that they, too, would carry forth as suitable attendants themselves.