A Knock at the Door

I love experiencing all different types of worship from Tenebrae, or contemporary, to funeral services and everything in between. On Friday our hometown of Pittsburgh, PA installed a new Catholic Bishop I was therefore very intrigued with the surrounding worship celebrations at St. Paul’s Cathedral.

For example, though he had walked through the same door countless times before, Bishop David A. Zubik could enter St. Paul Cathedral in Oakland on Thursday night only after knocking. Pondering this symbolic act that was foreign to me, I could think of several bits of Biblical references that might have inspired the tradition. First, to come to mind was the scripture from Matthew that says, "Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.” Also, Rev. 3:20, “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.” The messages of these passages to persist in finding God and while also leaving the door to our hearts consistently open to God (personally and corporately) are ones we probably couldn’t hear often enough.

I little internet research explains that the knocking-on-the-door tradition dates to medieval Europe, when "chapters" of clergy independent of the bishop controlled the cathedral. Bishops had to knock to enter the churches. So the Rev. Donald P. Breier, St. Paul's rector and pastor, greeted Zubik as he crossed the door's threshold and welcomed him to the cathedral prior to the evening prayer service.

Carrot Top Studio creates stoles and worship banners so I initially was watching for the types of vestments, and stoles worn by the clergy in attendance. I also wondered if there would be worship banners in this grand space. Because I am fond of symbolism, I was also curious to watch for the presentation of the crozier. The symbolism of this pastoral staff that is carried by the Bishop links to Christ the Shepherd and is a visual reminder of the teaching the Bishop will do. While watching this three hour service on TV it was no surprise that there was much more observed and absorbed than I anticipated. I embraced the community that came together in this celebration and prayed with them for Christianity to grow within the city of Pittsburgh. Along with the Bishop, wherever we may be, may we continue to seek, find and knock.