Always Too Much

by Rev. Nick Chambers

Since beginning at Peachtree, I have come to delight in officiating weddings. Few events are so paradoxically weighty with meaning and light with joy. All the preparation and anticipation is released in a moment. All rise. The doors open and there stands the bride. Fanfare builds and climbs to a breathless rest. And she enters. While all eyes are fixed on the bride, mine move to the groom. This is my favorite moment, when “the bridegroom rejoices over the bride.” Whether they are showing every tooth in their mouth or their lips have retreated tight and trembling, even the stoic cannot keep their faces silent. The delight cannot be contained.

In his poem, “The Country of Marriage," Wendell Berry writes,

What I am learning to give you is my death
to set you free of me and me from myself
into the dark and the new light. Like the water
of a deep stream, love is always too much. We
did not make it. Though we drink till we burst
we cannot have it all, or want it all.
In its abundance it survives our thirst.
In the evening we come down to the shore
to drink our fill, and sleep, while it 
flows through the regions of the dark.
It does not hold us, except we keep returning 
to its rich waters thirsty. We enter,
willing to die, into the commonwealth of its joy.

The love we experience and share as humans is the love of God himself, and it is "always too much.” One of my favorite contemporary philosophers describes God as "dynamic excess of giving being.” God’s life and love are an inexhaustible plentitude in which we share. At every wedding (following The Book of Common Prayer) I remark on Jesus’ miracle at the wedding in Cana, in which he changes six stone jars of water into wine. We should clarify that these “jars” were twenty to thirty gallons each, making the total somewhere between one to two hundred gallons. The life and love of God is never merely enough. It fills and overflows, an excess that does not consume but celebrates and sustains.