Sermon Illustrations

Michael Yaconelli’s, "Messy Spirituality"

Vincent’s story about grace graciously given in the messiest of circumstances from Michael Yaconelli’s book Messy Spirituality.

In a book aby New Zealand author Mike Riddell, Vincent has met and fallen in love with a young girl named Marilyn. Neither one of them is seeking a relationship, but a relationship is seeking them. Swept up by their emotions, the two become deeply involved. Marilyn a prostitute, is not prepared to fall in love and is certainly not prepared for the honesty love requires. She must tell Vincent who she it, knowing full well that here painful disclosure will probably mean the end of their relationship.



“There’s ah .....There’s something we need to talk about.”

“Only if you want to. I’m happy just to sit here and look at you. Sorry, this looks like something serious.” Looks a lot like the intro to the Dear John speech, truth be told.”

“Its about me and what I do.”

“Yeah, wondered when you were going to pluck up the courage to talk about it. Don’t tell me, you work for the CIA, right?” Sorry. sorry, I’ll shut up.”

She is totally absorbed in the remains of her salad, scrutinizing it for something. Anything to avoid his eyes.

“There’s no easy way of saying this. I’m a prostitute. I sleep with men for my living. It’s a business. I’m very professional.

Time and silence have this thing they do together. The make a chasm that has no bottom to it. And there you are, standing right on the edge of it. Aware that at any moment you may be falling and falling , with no hope of recovery. At the moment they are at either side of it, each consumed by their private terror. She looks up at last from here salad. Vincent is crying. The tears are streaming down his cheeks, and he is biting his lip to stop himself sobbing. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to deceive you. I’m sorry, Vincent. I’m sorry.”

He can’t speak. He wants to, but nothing is working. He is looking at her, at her beautiful face, at her eyes, at the slight hardness around her mouth. And weeping and weeping. She reaches a hand across to hold his. She is beyond tears, empty and bleak and barren. Vincent is mumbling something but is incoherent through the pain. And then he begins to repeat it again and again.

“I love you, I love you, I love you, I love you.....”

This is the worst thing she has ever heard in her life. She wants to scream, to break something, to tip over the table in rage. Instead some continental shelf rips loose within her. She begins gulping and moaning, a terrible agonizing cry from another place. And the tears are flowing. They grip each other’s hands, and lean their foreheads together. The tears are flowing into the abyss, and there is no end to them.

Marilyn expected Vincent to reject her, to pull away from her, to have nothing to do with her. In a strange and touching way Vincent did what Jesus would do; he looked beneath the expected criticism; what she received was understanding. Instead of hearing words of condemnation Marilyn heard over and over again , “I love you”.