THE need to find ‘cover’ is a perennial problem for clergy, and is one that has been vexing me this week!

At the moment, this mostly refers to finding people to run services while I’m away. But all of us look for ‘cover’ at times: cover for absence, cover to hide in, cover for blame, cover for shame, cover for our identity. Perhaps you know what I mean: when we run for cover when family visit, when we search for alibis when something goes wrong, when we need a drink to cover our shyness, when we wear things or act in ways in order to hide something of ourselves we don’t like or are ashamed of, when we delete our browser history before anyone can look at our phone. It goes on. We search for cover.

Ever since the beginning where Adam and Eve tried to cover their shame and cover up their guilt it has been a part of the human condition – the need for cover.

But God offers cover. In the Bible, it says there is cover for those who need to find refuge under the feathers of God, like the image of a chick under its mother’s protection. For us who need shelter or reassurance, and for those of us who are fearful of the world or how it sees us, there is God’s cover - the tender yet fierce cover of a mother gathering her young. For those of us who are ashamed or need forgiveness, there is the occluding cover of God that removes the guilt from us - not so we can pretend it never happened - but so we can look up from our feet, make amends, and live onwards instead of being mired in the past. God covers us.

God’s cover extends back to the beginnings as he sought out Adam and Eve as they hid, and enabled them to cover their shame. God does the same for any of us too. As creator, God’s love for our world covers our self-inflicted guilt and shame, and secures us in our fear of life’s circumstances or fear of recognition for who we really are. This is God’s modus operandum - cover, either as forgiveness or security is God’s calling card.

Perhaps the greatest example of this is in God’s own sacrifice when Jesus died to provide cover for the evil of the whole world - just like God had been doing from the start and has never stopped doing. Typical God behaviour! But thank God for cover all the same!