Here is a readers’ theatre setting of Matthew 20:1-16, one of the suggested scripture texts for September 18, 2011 (Proper 20A). For a more traditional readers’ theatre setting of this passage, see Readers’ Theatre: Matthew 20: 1-16. For a simple dramatic version, see Dramatized Reading: Matthew 20: 1-16.
The Parable of the Vineyard Workers:
a Dramatic Re-telling
(Matthew 20: 1-16)
Jesus: The kingdom of heaven is like a wealthy landowner
who got up early in the morning and went out, first, thing,
to hire workers to tend his vineyard.
He agreed to pay them a day’s wage for the day’s work.
The workers headed to the vineyard
while the landowner headed home to deal with some paperwork.
About three hours later, he went back to the marketplace.
He saw some unemployed men standing around with nothing to do.
Owner: Do you need some work?
Go over to my vineyard and join the crew there.
I’ll pay you well.
Jesus: So off they went to join the crew at the vineyard.
About three hours later, and then again three hours after that,
the landowner went back to the market
and saw another crew of men and hired them, too,
sending them off to his vineyard and promising to pay them well.
Then finally late in the afternoon, at the cusp of the night,
the landowner walked again through the marketplace,
and he saw other workers still standing around.
Owner: Why have you been standing here all day, doing nothing?
Worker: Because no one has hired us.
Owner: Well, you should go over to my vineyard
and put in a few moments of work.
Jesus: And off the workers went.
When quitting time arrived, the landowner called to his foreman.
Owner: Pay the workers their day’s wages,
beginning with the workers I hired most recently
and ending with the workers who have been here all day.
Jesus: So the workers who had been hired just a short while before
came to the foreman, and he paid them each a day’s wage.
Then the workers who had arrived midday came to the foreman,
and he paid each of them a day’s wage too.
Finally the workers who’d been toiling since early morning came
thinking they’d be paid more,
but the foreman paid each of them a day’s wage.
As they received their pay, this last group of workers began to protest.
Worker 2: We’ve been here since the crack of dawn!
And you’re paying us the exact same wage you paid
the crew that just showed up.
We deserve more than they do.
We’ve been slogging in the heat of the sun all day—
these others haven’t worked nearly as hard as we have!
Jesus: The landowner heard these protests.
Owner: Friend, no one has been wronged here today.
This isn’t about what you deserve.
You agreed to work for a day’s wage, did you not?
So take your money and go home.
I can give my money to whomever I please,
and it pleases me to pay everyone the same amount of money.
Do you think I don’t have the right to dispose of my money as I wish?
Or does my generosity somehow prick at you?
Jesus: And that is a picture of the kingdom of heaven.
In the kingdom of heaven the last will be first and the first will be last.
Scripture taken from The Voice™.
200 6, 200 7, 2008 by Ecclesia Bible Society.
Used by permission. All rights reserved
For a more traditional readers’ theatre setting of this passage, see Readers’ Theatre: Matthew 20: 1-16.
For more worship resources related to this text, or other texts for September 18, 2011 (the fourteenth Sunday after Pentecost), click on Proper 20A in the list of “Labels” at the lower right side of the page.
For other readers’ theatre settings of scripture, click on Readers’ theatre in the list of “Labels” at the right.