The Parable of



Mark 4:26-29



     Mr. Hart and Mr. Jones had one thing in common:  playing chess at the picnic tables in the park.  As long as anyone could remember, they played all afternoon on Tuesdays.

     Mr. Jones scratched his white beard.  “Check”, he said.

     Mr. Hart scratched his white beard.  “Check-Mate”, he said.

     Mr. Jones grumbled and threw down his hat.  “Set them up again”, he said.

     When twilight fell, their differences became apparent.  Mr. Jones always went back to his home alone, and Mr. Hart went to the Youth Club, where he volunteered as the Activities Coordinator.

     On Wednesdays, Mr. Hart went to the Senior Center and visited some of his old friends that lived there.  On Thursdays, he played clarinet at the park with his band, “The Old-timers”.  On Fridays, he was Assistant Boy Scout Master, helping the boys earn their merit badges.  On Sundays, he went to church and taught Sunday School.  On Mondays, he volunteered as a Teacher’s Aid at the local kindergarten.

On Tuesdays, he was back at the picnic table in the park.

     Mr. Jones already had the chess pieces set up.  “You’re late”, he said.

     “Take it easy”, said Mr. Hart, looking at this watch.  I’m only ten minutes late.”

     “Where have you been?”

     “I was babysitting for the Dewly kids.  Their folks were late getting home.  I couldn’t very well leave the little tykes by themselves, now could I?”

     “Why are you always doing such foolish things?” asked Mr. Jones.  “You should act your age.  Leave the babysitting to the teenagers.”

     “It’s things like that which keep me young”, Mr. Hart replied. “Who goes first?”

     “I went first last time”, said Mr. Jones.

     “It’s a good thing one of us remembers”, said Mr. Hart.  “You know, the memory is the second thing to go.”

     “What’s the first thing?” asked Mr. Jones.

     “I can’t remember.”

     Mr. Jones chuckled, which was rare.  “Have you heard about the Tornado Watch we’re having over the next few days?” he asked.

     “No”, said Mr. Hart.  “I haven’t had time to watch much T.V.”

     “Well, you’d better stock up your storm cellar and tape up your windows, just in case.”

     “We have these Tornado Watches every year”, Mr. Hart commented.  “They never come to our area.”

     “Never say never”, Mr. Jones replied.  “I’m taking down my patio furniture tonight; I suggest you do the same.”

     “I don’t have time tonight”, said Mr. Hart.  “I’ll have to do it tomorrow.”

     “See that you do”, Mr. Jones warned.  “The Tornado flurry is supposed to start tonight.”

     At twilight, it was beginning to get very windy; they folded up the chess set and bid their farewells to each other.

     When Mr. Jones got home, he went right to work on getting his house ready for the storm.  He put his outdoor furniture in the garage with his car, opened up his windows a crack, criss-crossed them with wide tape, and secured the shutters.  He had already stocked his storm cellar with food and emergency supplies.  It was extremely windy by the time he finished his preparations.  He went upstairs and sat down to watch the news.  It was on every station.  The Tornado Watch was changed to a Tornado Warning.  Residents were even being advised to evacuate the area.


     Mr. Jones tried to stay up all night to keep track of it, but he was so tired, he couldn’t even stay awake.  He decided to sleep on his cot in the storm cellar.  He was a sound sleeper; when he woke up, it was morning.  He went upstairs and looked out his living room window.  His house was untouched, but his property was littered with other people’s possessions that had been blown away.  He turned the TV back on and watched the news.  Apparently, it was all over.  A tornado had indeed hit his area during the night.  He saw news footage of houses were left standing right next to houses that were completely destroyed.  Overturned cars were found all over the city in strange places.  He decided to call his chess partner to make sure he was alright, but his phone line was dead.  It occurred to Mr. Jones that he didn’t even know exactly where his friend lived; he had no way to go and check on him.

     As he continued to survey the damage on the TV, he was grateful that he still had his home and all his possessions in tact.  All that week, he stayed in his cozy little home alone, and counted himself as blessed.

     On the following Tuesday, he went up to the park early.  Mr. Hart was there on time. 

     “How did you fare with the tornado?” Mr. Jones asked.

     “I was really lucky”, said Mr. Hart.  “How are you?  Is everyone you know okay?”

     Mr. Jones didn’t know anyone else.  “No damage”, he said.

     “Come on”, said Mr. Hart.  “I want to show you something wonderful.”

     “What about our chess game?” asked Mr. Jones.

     “We’ve been playing chess every Tuesday for over thirty years”, said Mr. Hart.

     “My point, exactly.”

     “It can wait.  Come on!”

     Mr. Hart drove them over to where he lived.  All the houses on Mr. Hart’s block were safe and sound.  All but his.  Mr. Hart’s house was completely demolished.  In fact, most of it wasn’t there at all.

     “How did you survive this?” Mr. Jones asked incredulously.

     “I wasn’t there at the time”, said Mr. Hart, smiling. “I was out late at the Youth Center, and I was too tired to drive home, so I decided to spend the night there.  Wasn’t I lucky?”

     “Lucky?” exclaimed Mr. Jones.

     “You’re absolutely right”, said Mr. Hart, bowing his head.  “I was blessed.”

     “I thought you were going to show me something wonderful”, said Mr. Jones.

     “It is wonderful”, said Mr. Hart.  “My house was old and rickety.  It was practically falling apart around me anyway.  When all my friends found out what happened, they organized themselves to build me a new house!”

     Mr. Jones looked back at where the house used to be.  This time, he noticed the scores of people that were there were not just standing around; they were rebuilding.  The professional workers were giving instructions to volunteers of all ages.  Everyone was working with determination.

     “These are my friends”, Mr. Hart explained with a sweep of his arm.  “I don’t know where they all came from over the years.  I never realized how many friends I have.”

     Mr. Hart then drove Mr. Jones home, and made a promise to resume their chess playing the next week.  As Mr. Jones entered his home alone and locked the door behind him, he realized that indeed, Mr. Hart was the one that was blessed.


THE SCATTERED SEED  (Mark 4:26-29)

     “The kingdom of God is as if a man should scatter seed on the ground, and should sleep by night and rise by day, and the seed should sprout and grow; he himself does not know how.  For the earth yields crops by itself:  first the blade, then the head, and then the full grain in the head.  But then the grain ripens, and immediately he puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come.”