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The Parable of the Carpet Man

To place a well-known parable in a modern setting. To reflect on helping people out and the complex issue of commitment

by Kate Fleming

Suitable for Key Stage 2

Aims

To place a well-known parable into a modern setting. To reflect on helping people out and the complex issue of commitment.

Preparation and materials

  • Read through the story beforehand.

Assembly

  1. Explain that you are going to read a story about a man who sells carpets. Ask the children to listen carefully and see if they recognize it as a modern story based on one of the well-known stories of Jesus.

    The Carpet Man
    Mr Freckingham carefully picked up his case of carpet samples, making sure that each one was flat, before he closed the specially made briefcase with a comforting snap. His overnight bag, the one he always used, was all ready to be stashed away in the boot of his company car. He was all set now to leave for his visit - to another carpet shop.

    His car needed servicing - he knew that - and, in the back of his mind, was the nagging thought that it would not get him to his next all-important appointment.

    The morning was sunny and bright. The first two hours passed uneventfully, listening to the radio and admiring the beautiful countryside. Then he hit the motorway. Busy or what?

    His destination was off Junction 19 and it was at Junction 13 - had to be - that the temperature gauge moved up into the red zone. Clunk, clunk, clunk. Mr Freckingham ground to a halt on the hard shoulder, steam oozing from the bonnet of the car, and the smell of burning penetrating the interior. He realized with horror that he had forgotten to bring his mobile phone with him, so instant communication was out of the question, and he had stopped right in between the emergency phones - just his luck!

    Decisions needed to be made. Cars whizzed by on the motorway, all kinds, shapes, sizes and status, different colours, different owners, each car its own little world, enclosed and safe. No one cared about Mr Freckingham, stranded on the motorway in between emergency phones, the time ticking away, his all-important appointment with Carpets R Us off Junction 19 beginning to look impossible.

    What should he do? Walk to the emergency phone? Wait for the police? Dither! Dither! Come on Mr Freck, make up your mind. Dangerous being here too! The sheer weight of traffic seemed to move his car, and those lorries! Perhaps someone might give him a lift to the emergency phone?

    But no ... the relentless stream of traffic showed no sign that anyone cared about him. Mr Freckingham was on the verge of giving up hope of ever keeping his appointment with Carpets R Us off Junction 19, when …

    'You in a spot of bother, mate?'

    Nice car, thought Mr Freckingham. New, too. Silver grey.

    'You in trouble, old friend?'

    He's only talking to me, Mr Freckingham realized.

    'Terry's the name. Jump in, I'll take you where you need to be. Junction 19? No bother, I'm going off at that Junction myself. Carpets R Us, I know exactly where that is. Don't worry, I'll get you there in time. Two o'clock, no problem! Get your sample case, and off we go! I'll call the police to tell them about the car, and I'm coming back later this afternoon so I'll give you a lift and you can sort out your motor.'

    Cruising along in the fast lane to Junction 19, my goodness, thought Mr Freckingham, this has got some power. I would never have expected this bloke to have helped me out!

    Terry kept his word too. He got Mr Freckingham to Carpets R Us for his two o'clock appointment, gave him a lift back to his car, and waited until the recovery lorry had taken it away. Then, would you believe it, he took Mr Freckingham out for supper before dropping him back at his home. What a kind man!
  2. Point out that this is a story about adults - as the children know, no child should ever accept a lift from a stranger. Ask them:

    Do you think that Terry was kind?
    Why do you think Terry stopped to help Mr Freckingham?
    Why do you think he took the trouble to go back and give him a lift home later in the day?
    Do you recognize another story like this one, about another traveller, on the road from Jerusalem to Jericho?

    Terry had made a commitment to Mr Freckingham. He kept his word.

Time for reflection

Dear God,
Help us to help each other,
to notice when people are in trouble.
Keeping our word can be difficult.
Help us to mean what we say,
and do what we promise to.
Amen.

Song/music

'Cross over the road' (Come and Praise, 70)
'When I needed a neighbour' (Come and Praise, 65)

Publication date: February 2000   (Vol.2 No.2)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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