By MARGARET BROWN
Margaret Brown is one of The Resident’s longest standing contributors and has lived in the Algarve for more than 20 years. As well as Point of View, she also writes Country Matters twice a month.
If it were possible to record the ups and downs of a long marriage, it might resemble an electrocardiogram of a healthy heart.
There the analogy ends because after fifty years or more, to survive happily both partners will have made big adjustments and the mythical heart line would then have few spikes and longer flat spots. To the Cardiologist this might indicate imminent death but in terms of a living union it would show a relatively pleasant plateau had been reached, self having been partially subsumed and fewer flashpoints to upset the apple cart.
In the New Testament, Paul’s Letter to the Christian church in Ephesus refers to their relationship with Christ as that of the betrothed to her future bridegroom, to whom she must remain faithful while awaiting their marriage.
This is how it might be in an ideal world, but today the universal church continues as it has through two millennia – torn by disputes. Separated from without by different denominations and cults, damaged from within by unchristian attitudes, gossip and power struggles. More like a bad marriage than a happy period of betrothal, human nature being what it is.
Yet in a parochial church, if all goes smoothly, the congregation may become self-satisfied, static, and resemble the comfortable old age of a happy marriage rather than the vigour of its youth. Sometimes the tail tries to wag the dog – long established members seeking to direct their priest, stifle innovation and demand a preferred menu of worship Sunday by Sunday.
It seems that to become a good working Church, the body of Christian believers needs to have an active faith, be students of the Bible, and willing to reach out to others under the guidance of a strong priest in order to stem the rising tide of secularism.