Bridge wedding 1

Plastic wrappers and other pieces of litter rustled like tumbleweed across the empty space under the bridge yesterday afternoon.

Two hours later, enough chairs were set up to seat several hundred of Nashville’s homeless, enough chicken and baked beans cooked to feed them all.

And a few minutes later, while some were still finishing up their rainbow cake dessert, a cloth was rolled down the aisle and my friend Amanda walked through a crowd of her homeless friends to meet her fiancé at the altar under the overpass.

She’s not homeless. Never has been. Neither has her fiancé.

They just have tasted the grace of God and see people through the eyes of Christ.

As a train whistle echoed under the bridge and Tuesday evening rush hour traffic shook the concrete, Amanda smiled out at a sea of brothers and sisters as the band played and sang …

There are no strangers
There are no outcasts
There are no orphans of God
So many fallen, but hallelujah
There are no orphans of God.

And then they pledged to love each other for a lifetime as they love the “outcast” together.

Those of us who weren’t regulars to Heath and Amanda’s normal Tuesday night gathering of friends didn’t really know what to do when we first got there, except we knew one thing.

The homeless were to be the guests of honor.

Over and over we got the privilege of carrying their food for them as they walked to their seats, talking with them and serving them their plates as they got settled in for the wedding.

“You look beautiful,” one lady stopped and told the bride with a gap-toothed smile as she walked to her seat.

Amanda beamed. She had carefully thought this through, and it was just what she wanted.

The vows she had written for him. The flowers were picked with personal meaning, a photo wrapped around them of her niece who passed away recently. The songs were picked out for her Savior – and two of the homeless men stood up from the crowd and sang “Amazing Grace” like I’ve never heard it sung before.

And all of it was for them on His behalf.

“But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the just.” Luke 14:13

Bridge wedding 2

“Who here among us has not been broken
Who here among us is without guilt or pain
So oft’ abandoned by our transgressions
If such a thing as grace exists
Then grace was made for lives like this

There are no strangers
There are no outcasts
There are no orphans of God
So many fallen, but hallelujah
There are no orphans of God

Come ye unwanted and find affection
Come all ye weary, come and lay down your head
Come ye unworthy, you are my brother
If such a thing as grace exists
Then grace was made for lives like this

O blessed Father, look down upon us
We are Your children, we need Your love
We run before Your throne of mercy
And seek Your face to rise above.”

– Avalon

37 Responses

  1. I read your most recent post and felt a spirit connection and now reading this, I smile knowing that we may have been in the same city or even under the same bridge at one point (I went a few Tuesdays before Ieft for Africa). Such a beautiful wedding celebration. Such a beautiful God.

  2. Maybe each and everyone of us should just stop and think …………….. I get chills when I read it. What a beautiful loving way to start their new life ‘caring for those less fortunate’ and make no mistake they constantly walk among us each and every day. God love this couple and those they have chosen to spend this extra special occasion with.

  3. Amen. Not everybody lives their faith, but when it happens…it is beautiful. You see, the thing about living a life of faith is that it all matters….

  4. I have worked at a shelter for quite a while and have observed people when they came to volunteer. Most of them got their “rewards” at the moment because it was obviously more about them than Him. Sadly most Christians don’t put shoe leather to the Word. Amanda and Heath are right on. I know God was smiling right in the midst of them all.

  5. This reminds me of a saint, whose name escapes me, who was of royalty of some sort in the mid-centuries, who had his coronation feast and opened the doors to all of his people, many who were poor from the previous reign. I will have to try to seek out his name, for it’s been a long time since I’ve read his story. I’m thinking it may have been (Good) King Wenceslas who often ate in his people’s homes with them, providing them with food.

    1. This couple are Saints, for all Followers of Christ are Saints!! Romans 16:2. “For the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ” (Ephesians 4:12)

  6. This is the first real example I have ever heard of people putting that passage into practice. What a blessing!

  7. Grace,

    Your writing is beautiful…I’m always blessed by it.

    Thank you for using your talents to share Amanda’s wedding – a living parable of what Christ-following is about.

    Hope you are doing well…

  8. Your words bind, seal and usher in His Spirit to heal us all. Keep writing – for you, for Him – for us.

  9. This song has been on my heart all week and as I sit here and read this post, I’m in chills and tears. Thanks for sharing your friends Amanda and Heath’s beautiful story of unconditional and fearless love, for each other and the poor! So encouraging!! Loved it!

  10. You put this to words so beautifully. I am friends of Amanda’s sister Tracy and her daughter Marissa who passed away. I never understood why they were having their wedding this way…I now do. Thank you for sharing.

  11. Grace, you were so aptly named. Your messages always speak the amazing grace of our Father. I love you and I miss you. I am so very thankful to call you “Friend”. What messages of faith, hope, and love you are able to share like no other–truly a gift of the Holy Spirit within you!

  12. I love this! I have had the honor to be a part of Amanda’s life and to see God work through her for the last 15+ years. She is a beautiful woman both inside and out! Thank you for sharing her special day. Incredibly meaningful!

  13. I’ve been faithfully following your blog for almost a year and haven’t commented until now. My words never seem sufficient. But your posts, especially recent ones of the death of your friend, and now this have compelled me to comment and let you know that my faith is renewed every time I read your blog. I’m a photographer who is very selective with the weddings I choose to photograph because I want genuine hearts in the bride and groom. How I wish there were couples like the ones you wrote about here to ask me to photograph such a beautiful wedding. And thank you for your heart, your faith, and your love for our Savior.

  14. This was the most profound and beautiful thing I have ever heard of!!! The bride and groom truly have a heart for God!!! Just beautiful!!! I know that Father God smiled and was truly blessed! Thanks for sharing. I will be forwarding this to many friends!

  15. Grace, your words are amazing. That was beautiful, made me cry. Wish I had been there. Amanda is Special!

    Sent from my iPad

  16. I’ve been to that ministry under the bridge in Nashville. I love what they do, and this wedding story gave me chills.

    I love your writing! Have been following your blog for a while now.

Leave a Reply