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Summary: A monologue of the parable of the laborers in the vineyard.
Style: Dramatic, with light touches.    Duration: 10min.
Scripture: Matthew 20: 1-16
Actors: 1M

A worker in the vineyard.


Hi ho, hi ho, it’s off to work I go.
Then me and my buds we’ll have some suds
Hi ho, hi ho hi ho hi ho.

Yep, nothin’ like a good day of honest labour to put a swing in your step and a well-earned pint in your hand. The missus is off to the market, the kids are with the neighbors who’s going to take them to school, and here I am, early in the morning’, crack of dawn as my old Dad used to say, off to find some work.

Any work will do. Just so’s it pays a fair wage for a fair job. One little old denarius is all I ask for a day’s labor. That’s the going wage these days. Hey, there’s my buddies. Levi, you old scoundrel, how’s that gout of yours doing? Take a rest, friend.

Samuel, you’re looking a little grey this fine morning. Up late with Abe again, were you? Come on, let’s go. You’ll catch some wind in your sails soon enough. We’re almost at the labour depot. Here we are. Man, it’s going to be a hot one today! I can feel it already.

There’s a fellow looking for workers. Hey, sir, here’s a couple of calloused hands for you. Me and Sam here, finest fellows you’ll ever put to work. Honest pay for an honest day. (pause) Yes, sir! A denarius it is. You won’t be disappointed, sir. I promise you that! Come on, Sam. Put some oomph in that step of yours. We got a job!

(walks for a while) Wow! That is some vineyard! Look at the size of that spread! You and me are going to have one long day ahead of us, Sammy old boy. Hope there’s a well nearby. We’re gonna need some water. Thank you, sir. Yes, I’ll be more than happy to hoe for the day.

(hoes for a while) Sam, you gotta keep up. I told the owner that he’d get a fair piece of work out of us. My well-deserved reputation is on the line. Here, have some more water. I know, it looks grim. We’ll never get this vineyard finished by the end of the day. I hope he goes for more workers. (looks in the distance) Yep, sure enough. There he goes. Back to the labour pool. Take a breather, Sam. Here, have a falafel.

(They rest, then he listens, gets on his feet.) Sammy, Sammy, get thee onto thy feet, thou wastrel. The owner returneth. And lo, he doth bring a veritable legion of labourers. We’re saved!

Gentlemen! Welcome to the most honest piece of work you will ever see in your life! This grand orchard is ours for the tilling!

My name’s Jacob by the way. And you are? Gideon! Nice to meet you. Here, have a drink. You’ll need it. Here’s another hoe. There’s another row. Hi ho Hi ho. Sorry, my mother gave birth to a poet. Me and Virgil, we go way back. Have a good one, Gideon!

Come on, Sam. No pain, no gain. Back to work. You can sleep it off tomorrow.

(hoes some more) How you fellows doing over there? Gotta keep it going, you know? Lots left to do here. Say, look, the owner’s going back to the city. It’s noon. I guess he needs more workers. Can’t say I blame him. Probably has some deadline to make. O the vicissitudes these owners must have! Makes me glad to be a humble labourer.

(looks up, sees more coming) Fellas, over here. Sorry you have to start in the heat of the day. Enjoy it, though. There’s good company to be had around this fair acreage. Mighty fine indeed.

(turns to Samuel) Say, Sam. What do you think these guys are getting paid? After all, we’ve been working here six hours already I figure. For one denarius. Guess they’ll be getting half or not much more. (pause) No, I don’t think we should ask. It’s not polite.

(Hoes, looks out again) Holy Mount Sinai! Samuel, will you look at that! I can’t believe it! It’s almost dusk, and the owner is bringing in more workers! What in the name of Moses and the plague of toads is going on here? Never mind, let’s just finish the work, collect our pay, and go home for a warm one. O for a cool one. Somebody ought to invent refrigeration in this country.

(Hoes, listens) Look, Sam, the manager is calling us over. Guess that’s it for the day. Let’s go get paid.

(walks over) Wait a minute. Those guys in the front of the line, they’re the ones who got here just an hour ago. They’re getting paid first. Holy mother of Miriam. Sam, do you see what I see? I know those coins like I know a good book of poetry. Those are denarii. Those fellows are getting a full day’s wage for one hour’s work. They must be relatives or something. Hey, what in the name of the God of justice is going on here?

Guess I better keep my mouth shut, or I won’t get paid at all. (moves up the line) Yes, sir. Hi ho Jacob in the flesh. Full day’s work for a full day’s pay. Thank you, sir. You are so very kind. Yes, that is what we had agreed to. One denarius. Looks like a good one, too. My wife will be very pleased.

But I have one question that I cannot leave without asking. Why? Why did I and my friend Samuel here get a denarius for a full day’s work and those fellows over there who barely got dust on their hands got the same wage? Now I am going to speak for the both of us, and say that this is not fair. It is not just.

Yes, I will listen to your explanation. And it had better be good.

(Listening, repeating) You are saying this is all about being good? You mean your generosity to the ones who worked only an hour should not be compared to your fairness to me and Sam here?

It’s true that you did treat us fairly, I’ll grant you that. We got what we agreed to. You’re right. You did us no wrong.

You say it’s about grace and not about justice. Alright. I’ll try to think about it differently.

OK, I’ll try to put myself in the shoes of the last workers. On the one hand they did only a small amount of work. But they got a great reward. And the reward was not based on how much they did, but on how generous you were with them.

Actually, now that I think about it, I treat my daughters that way. Our twelve-year old does a fair amount of work around the house and she gets the same amount of love and respect as the little one who’s only three.

It isn’t really about earning something, is it? Sometimes it’s about getting something we haven’t earned, just - just because.

Come on, Sam. Let’s go. (walking away) - You know, Sam, I bet God is like that. Generous - just because.


(C) Copyright Jim Hatherly.
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