The parson was hanging out with his friend, Dr. Gary, pastor of Saint John's United Methodist in Augusta, Georgia, the oldest still worshiping congregation in Georgia. Gary and the parson had been friends in seminary. That friendship was cemented when the two discovered a phrase in the school's catalog that read, “Class attendance is not a perquisite for a passing grade.” The two had taken that literally and adjourned to the pizza establishment across the street.
Gary was on his way to speak at a church in Tennessee. He'd stopped to visit his old friend along the way. Now the two sat on a bank overlooking some soccer fields not far from the parson's abode. Below them a game between two girl's U-14 teams was in progress. The parson watched intently as he and Gary talked. Two of the girls below attended his church.
The parson and his guest had enough time to catch up on their individual activities since last seeing each other as well as share plans for coming years. And then the game was over. The girls the parson had come to see were victorious. He and Gary waited to greet them.
“Hi, Parson,” shouted Susan, who played sweeper on the team. “Thanks for coming.”
“It was fun,” said the parson. “This is my friend, Gary. He was really impressed with your team.”
“Thank you,” Susan said to Gary.
“You're a good player,” Gary replied.
Rhonda, Susan's best friend and a midfielder on the team now ran up.
“Hi, Parson,' said Rhonda. “Hi, I'm Rhonda,” she said to Gary.
“I'm Gary, I'm glad to meet you,” Gary replied.
“Did you ask him?” Rhonda said to Susan.
“Not yet,” said Susan.
“Ask me what?” the parson asked.
“Okay,” said Susan, “you used to coach soccer in college, right?”
“I did,” the parson admitted.
“So, if Rhonda and I wanted to get a soccer scholarship for college, what will we have to do?”
“Make good grades,” said the parson.
Susan smiled, “I know that, Parson. I'm talking about a soccer scholarship.”
“I am, too.” said the parson.
“Okay, okay. You sound like Mom. But what else?”
“You have to master the basics,” the parson said.
“Like what?” asked Rhonda.
“Well,” the parson asked. “How many times can you juggle the ball without missing.”
“Maybe twenty,” said Susan.
“Yeah, twenty or sometimes thirty,” Rhonda said.
“Keep practicing until you can do it a couple hundred times,” the parson replied.
“But, Parson,” Rhonda protested. “You don't ever have to juggle the ball that much in a game.”
“You're right,” the parson said, “but if you can juggle it two hundred times in practice you'll always be able to do it one time in the game.”
The parson and Gary rose from their seats, brushed the grass off their butts and headed to the car. Halfway there, Gary commented. “I don't know squat about soccer. But I know a good sermon illustration when I hear it.”