8Late in the afternoon a breeze began to blow, and the man and woman heard the LORD God walking in the garden. They were frightened and hid behind some trees. 9The LORD called out to the man and asked, "Where are you?" 10The man answered, "I was naked, and when I heard you walking through the garden, I was frightened and hid!"
Does it seem too obvious to remark that we all hide from God? This is truly everyman and everywoman, because we keep looking for God, and wanting to be God, but when God actually arrives and we can hear God, then suddenly what was sought is feared. I'd be scared enough if I heard God walking in the woods if I had my clothes on. If I had some sin that was recently exposed and imagined God was near, how much the worse.
Like so many of these Genesis moments, the story stands as a kind of explanation for why we do what we do. So, ask yourself the question- In the summer, why do you wear clothes? The Genesis answer: Because Adam and Eve ate from a tree. Questions like these don't often come to mind- they're one aspect of how we hide from God, by not inquiring into our basic nature. Why do we kill? Why do we wear clothes? What does a rainbow mean to us if we see it? Our inability to know God well is reflected in our inability to know ourselves.
Now ask yourself the question again- why do you wear clothes? The answer: Because you'd feel self-conscious, ashamed, whatever, without them on, especially in mixed company. Now extrapolate- God can see to your very heart, so will you hide from God? What if you were confronted with Deus Nudus ?
These are the questions that come up in my mind when I read this passage. Of course God already knows me fully, but there is a difference between expressing that article of faith, and actually making the leap of faith to accept the fact, and open myself up to the one to whom I'm already open. Sounds a bit like Tillich's "accept the fact that you are accepted."
Be consoled also by this, that God also, because of our weakness of faith, wears clothing. God began this practice with Israel (through Moses) and continues it with us as well, the clothing of God now being regular things we encounter often- bread and wine in the Eucharist, water in baptism, the Word of God preached, the confession and absolution of our sin.
God cannot be found in God's "bare majesty", is not visible through our speculations about God, or the images we project upon God. We rightly run away from this God of our own making and choosing. Instead, God comes to us fully clothed, in God's masks, the sure and certain places (sacraments) where God works. And in these masks, like a loving Father with his prodigal, God runs to us and embraces us even in our shame.