[1 Timothy 2:1-6] First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time.
“…desires all people to be saved”
Why do we bother to gather together? What does Sunday morning accomplish? Is there importance to you being here often?
First, you gather because of your need. You are God’s child through baptism. Yet you also still have a sinner clinging inside you - even an unbeliever - which doesn’t want to be God’s child. That’s our sinful nature. And the world and the devil are after us too.
You, the child of God, need to be sustained and kept. “The Lord bless you and… keep you.” And make His face shine on you and be gracious unto you. You gather because here the Lord feeds, sustains, and keeps you. Here, He provides for His children.
His Word and His Sacrament. Here you feast on the Bread of Life. Here, Jesus is your sustenance. And families eat together. And a child with a family is secure. Here, you are at home in the family of God.
Second, you gather together here not only for you but for others. In our Epistle reading today [1 Timothy 2:1-6] from Holy Scripture - which is all God’s Word - the Apostle Paul is giving instructions to the pastor, Timothy, about what to do when the people are gathered together. Instructions about what to do in this service.
“First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people.” You are gathered to pray together. To thank God together. To petition your Father for one another. To pray on behalf of - make intercession for - all people, those who are not here, those who are not yet His - pray “for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions.”
The Prayer of the Church, the prayers in the liturgy, prayers in song, in the hymns - these are your work of service together for each other and on behalf of the whole world. “We pray for the whole people of God in Christ Jesus and for all people according to their needs.”
Why? What’s the importance? God would certainly do His will on His own. But His will is that His Holy Spirit would work through the prayers of His people, and He does. I’ve heard it said this way - that God doesn’t work because of your prayers, but He does work through your prayers. You are gathered to pray. You do it together. “OurFather…”
Why else do you gather? In this first part of the chapter, the Apostle Paul gives instruction about prayer as you are gathered. Next in the chapter, and in the next chapter, he gives instruction about teaching and preaching in this gathering, in the divine service.
Here you gather that God’s Word may be taught, believed, and confessed - you gathering here therefore makes for the primary witness to the Gospel in this place. Where God’s people gather, there God’s Word is taught. The Lord gathers each of you here to make a witness to the Gospel here in this particular place in a dark world.
God gave one mediator between God and man, the man Jesus Christ. Jesus became Mediator on the cross. There He made peace between God and man - “God and sinners reconciled” - by His standing in your place, offering up the God-pleasing sacrifice of His perfect life on your behalf - suffering the sacrifice of paying the full price for your sins by His agony and death. In your place. Standing in for you between you and God. Procuring the forgiveness of your sins.
Jesus is the only Mediator between God and man. As you gather here to benefit from that Mediator together, your gathering here is also a witness so that others may know that Mediator.
Why? Because God desires all people to be saved — “This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time.”
Where and when God’s baptized people gather, there this testimony is proclaimed - in every place - that many may hear and be saved, according to the will of God. You and your neighbor need this testimony about Christ’s ransom payment for all to be proclaimed. You and they need to hear it.
You need Jesus Christ here each week, not just when you feel the need. If you’re on a medication, just because you don’t always feel sick each and every day doesn’t mean you don’t need to take it each day. Right? You need Jesus together each week - and more - and individually each day.
And each one of you, individually, your time of putting this gathering in your schedule each week is a witness to someone else who also needs the Bread of Life. They learn it’s important each time they see that it’s important to you. But if you treat it as unimportant - or as something you might get too or maybe not, oh well - then what witness are you giving?
However, each Sunday you attend you increase the witness. And each time you attend, you encourage someone else who is here and needs to be here.
More than all that, it is God’s will. It is God’s will that the family gather together - that includes all the members. That includes you. It is good to do God’s will in life. And we shouldn’t feel safe not doing God’s will. In fact, it isn’t safe.
It is God’s will that all people be saved. He desires there to be a witness to the Gospel of His Son Jesus in every place, among all sorts of people. He gathers you here so there is a light in the current darkness. Each one of you, He gathers. He works through all of your prayers, through each of your “amens”. He gathers each of you to carry out His purpose and will to save. You have purpose here. Each of you.
And God sends each of you out of here. He feeds, sustains, and strengthens you here and sends you out there to be His witnesses in every part of your life among others - including in your home, and among others. In each place where you spend your week, a child of God is there. That starts with you being here. Amen.