So will I compass Thine altar, O Lord, that I may publish with the voice of thanksgiving, and tell of all Thy wondrous works. Lord, I have loved the habitation of Thy house, and the place where Thine honor dwelleth. – Psalm 26:6–8.
Anna was the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Aser. She was of a great age, having lived with her husband seven years from her virginity, and was now a widow of about 84 years. She was a prophetess, a woman endowed with special gifts of the Holy Spirit. She departed not from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day. And God gave to her the special blessing of being able to see the Baby Jesus in the temple. Having found Him, she gave thanks to the Lord, and spoke of Christ to all that looked for redemption in Jerusalem (Luke 2:36–38).
What a pattern for old Christians! They look back upon a long pathway of life which they have traversed. Soon they must pass through the valley of death to their eternal home, where heavenly praises resound, where all the wonders of God’s grace are seen and fully known, where the glory of God shall be upon them. But before the day of their departure from this earthly life, what better thing can they do than to compass God’s altar, publish with the voice of thanksgiving, and tell of all His wondrous works?
Such Christians truly love the habitation of God’s house, the place where His honor dwelleth, yea, where they find Jesus with great joy in His Word and Sacrament. Oh, may God grant His Holy Spirit to all old Christians, that, leaning upon their staff, if need be, they regularly attend services in the house of God. And oh! may they also pray, and speak of Jesus to their relatives, fellow Christians, and to other contrite sinners. This is a fitting custom for aged pilgrims who are approaching their heavenly goal. – Likewise, however, young Christians ought also to be found where God would equip them for the perilous way through this life to heaven.
PRAYER. – Lord God, Heavenly Father, grant me, I beg Thee, Thy Holy Spirit, that I may publish with the voice of thanksgiving, and tell of all the wondrous works which Thou hast done for our salvation and wilt do for our eternal happiness, and that I may love the habitation of Thy house, and the place where Thine honor dwelleth. And there graciously bestow me, O God, blessings from on high, that I may know my Savior ever better, and believe in Him ever more firmly, and finally finish my course joyfully, and through Him enter my eternal home. Amen.
His sov’reign power, without our aid,
Made us of clay, and formed us men;
And when like wandering sheep we strayed,
He brought us to His fold again.
We are His people, we His care,
Our souls and all our mortal frame.
What lasting honors shall we rear,
Almighty Maker, to Thy name?
We’ll crowd Thy gates with thankful songs,
High as the heavens our voices raise;
And earth, with her ten thousand tongues,
Shall fill Thy courts with sounding praise.
Hymn 13, vv. 2–4 (TLH)