It is a new term that has sprung up since the financial crisis and it is staycation. Basically, it is a holiday that you have by staying at home. Now, of course, this on the face of it this seems less than exciting compared to the pleasures of far off places. Yet having had a few in my time, these sojourns into the familiar can be enjoyable. Since when we look again at local attractions we usually find something new to see or something really worth revisiting. Put simply, staying put in body doesn’t mean stay in the same place mentally or spiritually.
Well the very start of Acts made clear that the disciples stayed put after the resurrection. Indeed, they might have remained living in the very room of the last supper. They probably did so through fear of the authorities out to hunt down Christ’s followers. They may have stayed out of a sense of curiosity as to what God might do next. They may have simply stayed because they really couldn’t think of anything better to do or go.
Nevertheless, whatever the reason for their staycation in Jerusalem, that period of static reflection was rewarded. For it helped them accept that the solution to their perilous situation was not a cataclysmically intervention by God as their question about restoring Israel suggests. Instead the first steps out of their predicament lay at their feet. The first responses to the radically changed future were in their hands. The light of their way forward was dawning not outside themselves but inside their minds and hearts and souls.
And so they stayed together in community. They stayed in contact with God by listening. They stayed and built up their courage, their sense of call and the vision of their new destiny through prayer.
We too in our personal lives face crises. Moments when darkness and light seem to intermingle in a most perplexing and uncomfortable way. Too often the immediate reaction is to do something. It is moments like those we need to remember that group in the upstairs room. We indeed need to bring to mind their thoughtful, prayerful and faith-filled staycation. For, it was that pause for reflection that was the first step in turning them from followers to leaders. The first step in turning the fearful to the faithful. The first step in turning runners to stayers. Let then the first moments of any trouble we encounter be given over to God and our first actions be at his say so.
However, the staycation recipe of the followers of Jesus had another and vital ingredient. And that was their openness to the supernatural. Since we could rationalise away their sightings of an alive Jesus coming amongst them. But if we do then we are left with a problem. For, if they had not truly experienced these miraculous happenstances, what helped them eventually to unbar the doors? Who irresistibly moved them from the upstairs room to the open air? Why finally did they risk the transition from Staycation to vocation? Put directly who else could possibly have forcibly ejected them out of hiding into building the church? None other than the encounter with a supernatural phenomenon which was the risen Christ – the risen Christ who inspires – the risen Christ who emboldens – the risen Christ who is always ready to lead us forward.
Yet when we talk about supernatural things we are necessarily cagey. For such discussions too easily bring to mind the old adage that a person who talks to God is regarded as pious. But the person who claims God is talking to him or her is deemed mad.
And as a result when faced with a crisis, we still often look not for the supernatural but the natural. But that rejects the super-nature of our Lord and Master.
Instead then let us have faith in an actual risen Christ walking beside us each moment of the day. Let us, when stuck in a dark room, expect to meet the risen Christ. Let us, whatever the situation, feel the living presence of the risen Christ. Since then we will be gifted his encouragement. We will find a peace that is beyond understanding. Moreover, we rediscover hope no matter the circumstances. And I can no better express this sustaining power of the Holy Spirit than quoting a pre-war doyan of French cycling. Being of Jewish descent, they waited for the inevitable knock on the door from the German Nazi occupiers. When it happened, he turned to his wife and said until this moment we have been living in fear, from now on – we will live in hope.
May we never doubt then that the supernatural Jesus brings faith – faith even in the riskiest hour.
But still we hang back – we want our staycation in a crisis to simply be our hideout from troubles. We want the darkness of indoors to cover us rather than being a place filled with challenging hope. We want the doors forever locked against the risk that the risen Christ often calls us to. May I even put it this way – we demand the natural of the ordinary instead of the extraordinary of the supernatural.
So much so – we ask why not cop out, why try to move outwards and onwards -why hazard a possibly dangerous new world?
Well I suppose it depends in the end where you want to see your name listed. Will it appear in the also-rans. Will it appear amongst those who sold their faith for the limits of rationality. Or will it be in the best and most honoured choice of all – and that is appended to that list in Acts. The list of those who stayed the course – those who overcame their situation in faith – those who conquered their crisis of risk, danger and evil, those indeed who turned their mortal selves into immortal saints and so made Christians of us all, now and forever more.