A person passing by the Clark lawn last Thursday, Feb. 25, would have heard the melodic notes and clear voices of students who attended this school year’s second worship under the stars night. The lyrics to “Psalm 23” rang out from spirits eager to worship with one another after missing this space for so long. The song was recorded on the 2015 Westmont worship band album and has continued to be a community favorite as well as a regular in chapel.
Worship under the stars is a time-honored tradition at Westmont, and in the year of virtual chapel and masked learning, it holds an even greater significance to students. When approved to safely gather, masked and socially distanced, for a time of worship and prayer under the bright Montecito night sky, students jumped at the chance.
The leaders, Caleb Marll and Ruthie Dickinson, did an excellent job curating an intentional place for worship through singing alongside creating a space for prayer, scripture reading, and mutual encouragement. Marll explained that “our goal was to invite students into a time of praise for the ways that God has been moving in this overwhelming and exhausting season, and also to make space for lament and repentance.” The experience was especially significant for the many first years in attendance to get a glimpse, for perhaps the first time, of what “chapel” looks like, as far as worshipping in person goes.
With a nod to the uniquely talented job the campus pastor’s office has done this year through online chapel, the community still values the ability to gather together. Marll elaborated that “while online chapel is still wonderful, it can be really challenging and often doesn’t present the same opportunities for fellowship and growth that ordinary chapel does, so we were just really excited to offer a time to come together before God.”
Despite the unique challenges this year has presented, worship under the stars was a great reminder of how powerful the faith community is at Westmont, especially when we are able to gather together.