I arrived overnight in my beloved city of Sakaraha in Tulear. I came, although yesterday the fever and the exhaustion of the last two months due to a persistent illness did not leave room for such decisions. I spent two months confined at home, asking God to make me worthy to spend Christmas close to the people I love. Yesterday I was in conflict: on the one hand, I was struggling with the thought of going out of the house as there was a risk of a sudden deterioration of my health, and on the other, my heart was filled with sadness and pain for our people.

Holy Christmas 2016!

I am sitting under two mango trees, which are used as a roof to protect us from the morning dew, with our new parishioners; under the blessed sky, which now plays the role of a dome, so that the Omniscient God can lean on in order to observe and listen to his children’s prayers.

Christ is born, glorify!

The antimension is laid over the table. This table was specifically made in order to replace the altar and bear on its perishable wooden legs the Imperishable and Eternal God, who today will give His light to the city of Sakaraha and preach through our quiet supplication in the Peace of the Matins service the great event of the Nativity of Christ.
Christ is born.

How different really is this natural, divine Peace from the fake and false “peace” of this world! And yet, it is felt and experienced under our humble trees. Under the trees of our land today…

The Heaven opens and Christ is born! In this beautiful and so well blended harmony of the natural and human worldly element with the divine and heavenly. This uniqueness is something that no other doctrine can offer or see. No other doctrine manages to see the glory of God within the peace of the material world or, conversely, the peace of the material world in the glory of God. This is so, simply because nowhere else can the Peace of God be felt and experienced except through our Orthodoxy.

The people attending this Divine Liturgy are the same who until yesterday were against our purchasing this land and had been trying to stop the procedure for at least one month; now they are praying along with us. I do not want to mention the causes of this behavior but what I do know is that now they are catechumens, they call the writer of this article “our priest” , while the church that we hope will be built in this beautiful place, they like to call it “our church.”

Indeed, I hope that close to these wonderful mango trees a beautiful church will soon be erected. .. The Sacred Church of the Lord’s Ascension, a generous offer of love made by an anonymous donor through the Orthodox Missionary Fraternity.

At this time that I am writing the construction work is about to begin in a few days. And the dream comes true, always by the Grace and with the help of our Most Merciful God.

When the construction work of our church has finished, I hope and pray for it to be filled with human souls that will see Thy glory, O Christ, in the glory of Thy Church.
However, never will they forget the presence of these magnificent mango trees, which I also hope they will stay upright along with the church.

And when aged and with teary eyes I gaze upon our first church here with you, my brothers of this land, it is with pride I will also gaze at these superb mango trees – the first real church in our city Sakaraha. I will always remember the first divine liturgies with you under the Creator’s firmament of heaven and soliloquize that wonderful quote from the Gospel: “Howbeit the most High dwelleth not in temples made with hands; as saith the prophet, Heaven is my throne, and earth is my footstool”.

Fr. Polykarpos of Agia Anna
Sakaraha-Tulear