Here’s a dramatized version of the parable of the Vineyard Workers from Matthew 20: 1-16, one of the suggestion scripture passages for September 18, 2011 (Proper 20A). It was written by Moira Laidlaw (Liturgies Online).
The Parable of the Vineyard Workers
(Matthew 20: 1-16)
You will need:
- about 10 workers - adults and/or youth;
- a narrator;
- a landowner and a trades union person
(labeled with signs around their necks;
- a manager holding a bundle of ‘money’
(pieces of paper with $50 written boldly on them—enough to pay the workers).
- two signs: MATTHEW’S VINEYARD and
WORKERS NEEDED TO HARVEST GRAPES.
Fix the signs up where people can easily read them – or have another two people assigned to hold them up.
Narr: For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner
who went out early in the morning
to hire workers for his vineyard.
The 10 workers stand or sit on one side of the sanctuary and the landowner enters from opposite side.
Narr: After agreeing with the workers for the usual daily wage,
the landowner sent them into the vineyard.
The landowner selects two of the workers and sends them off in the direction he/she came from.
Narr: The landowner went out about nine o’clock,
and saw others standing there doing nothing,
so the landowner said to them:
Owner: You also go into the vineyard,
there are still lots of grapes to pick,
and I’ll pay you whatever is right.
Another two workers go off.
Narr: Two more workers were chosen when the landowner
went out looking for more help about lunchtime
and again about three o’clock.
Four more workers go off.
Narr: At about five o’clock, the landowner went out again
and found others standing around.
Owner: Why are you standing around doing nothing?
There are still lots of grapes to pick.
You go into the vineyard now.
The last two workers go off.
Owner: Call the workers and give them their pay,
beginning with the last ones hired
and working through to the first ones hired.
Narr: When those hired about five o’clock came,
each of them received the usual daily wage.
The manager hands a ‘$50 note’ to all except those hired first.
Narr: Now when the first came, they thought that they would receive more;
but each of them also received the usual daily wage.
The manager hands a ‘$50 note’ to each.
Narr: And when they received it, they grumbled against the landowner .
The last two hired do ‘hi-fives’ with each other, while the others hired throughout the day (while looking happy) point at the last two hired and shake their heads. The two hired first complain in a loud voice about working all day in the heat and yet the landowner treated the others as if they had worked as long and as hard as they did! They call for the person from the Trades Union to come and help them. The Trades Union person comes in and joins in the complaints as loudly as the others . Everyone talks at once but all stop when the landowner holds up a hand.
Owner: Friends, I am doing you no wrong;
didn’t you agree with me to work for the usual daily wage?
Take what you have and go;
I choose to give to those who came last the same as I’ve given you.
Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me?
Or are you envious because I am being generous?
They all go back to their seats - the last two hired still doing hi-fives and the first two and the Trades Union person shaking their heads and still complaining.
Ask everyone if they think the landowner acted fairly - answers will possibly be in the negative. Then draw attention to the first verse of the reading and read again - “For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire workers for his vineyard.”
Jesus told this story to show how God acts totally differently from us. God loves everyone equally - whether we’re the oldest person or the youngest baby - the richest or the poorest, the wisest or the most foolish. God is equally generous to us all - with a love that never ends.
—Moira Laidlaw, Liturgies Online.
For other ideas for presenting this passage, see Readers’ Theatre: Matthew 20: 1-16 and Dramatic Reading: Matthew 20: 1-16.
For other 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.