While the students talked, the parson gazed out the window remembering his seminary days, when Everybody's waitress wore t-shirts, only t-shirts; when the war in Vietnam was being doggedly protested on the campus, when the school's policy stated that class attendance was not a perquisite for grades; and when, the parson and his best friend, a friend here unnamed because of his prominence as senior pastor at a really, really big church, spent a good many of their seminary days feasting upon the pizza at Everybody's, as well as sampling the various beverages offered in pitchers to accompany the entree. Ah, but the early 1970s were part of a previous century. The parson turned his attention back to the conversation of the seminary students.
“It was really a terrible sermon,” said one of the students, a seminarian from a state on the other side of the continent. “I'll never forget it.” She then went on to state the three points of the sermon, including an illustration the preacher gave for two of the points. “And then,” she said, “his conclusion was, get this, his conclusion was ….”
“Are you serious?” asked another student. “He actually preached that. What a terrible thing. I don't know how you could sit and listen to it.”
“That was a horrible sermon,” said a third student.
“What do you thing, Parson,” asked a fourth student.
“The parson deliberately chewed a moment on his pizza, holding up his hand to the students in a gesture of apology. Pizza consumed, he took a sip from his mug, then asked, “Did you say you heard this sermon when you were sixteen?”
“I did,” the original critic of the sermon replied.
“How old are you?” the parson asked.
“I'm twenty-eight,” she replied.
“So, you're telling me you heard a sermon twelve years ago and today you can repeat all three points, the illustrations for each, and the conclusion, and it was a terrible sermon?”
“It was,” she insisted.
“No,” said the parson. “It wasn't. It was a great sermon; it just didn't fit your theology. But any sermon you can remember for twelve years is a great sermon.”
The students were silent.
The parson asked, “How about another pitcher?”