December 2023 Worship Services

December’s Ministry Theme is Mystery

Join us in-person and online on Sundays at 10:30 am. All are welcome! We as Unitarian Universalists in Santa Monica look forward to being with you.

COVID Update May 2023: The congregation’s Pandemic Policies and Protocols were adopted specifically in response to the pandemic. Given that the state of emergency has been lifted, they are no longer in effect. Masks are optional, but always acceptable and welcome. If you or someone in your household is not feeling well or have tested positive for COVID, please stay home; you can still join us via our Facebook or YouTube live-stream worship. 

Parking at the UCLA parking structure at 1311 16th St. is available to people attending Sunday services. The entrance is from 16th St. between Santa Monica Blvd. and Arizona Ave., on the SE corner of Arizona and 16th; ask the attendant for a UUSM parking permit to place on your dashboard. For those with a handicap parking tag, several spaces are also available onsite, via the alley west of 18th St., as well as in the UCLA structure.

Worship Online:  We livestream our service from the sanctuary. Join us by clicking the WATCH NOW button above where the video is live every week beginning at 10:20 am, or watch on YouTube or Facebook. You don’t need to have a YouTube or Facebook account, or be logged in, to watch the service. You do have to be logged in to comment and chat with other members of the congregation. 

Explore past services on our Sermons page, available 24/7. Tune in anytime to catch up and worship with your community. We encourage you to light a chalice or candle at home, mediate, and sing along. 

Event Series Sunday Worship

Sunday Worship: A Place Called Home

Sanctuary 1260 18th Street, Santa Monica, CA, United States

A Place Called Home. Rev. Kikanza Nuri-Robins, preaching; Cassie Winters, Worship Associate. Every Hallmark Movie shown this month will revolve around the idea of being home for the holidays. This morning we will talk about "Home" as a place on the map and as a place in your heart. What does home mean to you? How can you create — or recreate — this idea of home so that it is a source of loving comfort? Come, come, whoever you are. Come home. Join us for worship in-person and online.

Event Series Sunday Worship

Sunday Worship: We Celebrate Light – All Ages Winter Celebration Pageant

Sanctuary 1260 18th Street, Santa Monica, CA, United States

We Celebrate Light: All Ages Winter Celebration Pageant. Rev. Amelia Mu'mina Marie, preaching; Jyvonne Haskin and David Erik Peterson, Worship Associates. Across traditions this is a time to notice the light and to celebrate it. The animals and the angels will gather together to sing in the season. Please raise your hearts and voices with us as we revel in the joy of all ages community and worship. Join us for worship in-person and online.

Event Series Sunday Worship

Sunday Worship: Winter Solstice – Reveling in the Darkness

Sanctuary 1260 18th Street, Santa Monica, CA, United States

Winter Solstice - Reveling in the Darkness. Rev. Jeremiah Lal Shahbaz Kalendae, preaching; Chela Metzger, Worship Associate. Even In the midst of the Season of Lights is the Winter Solstice which the shortest day and the longest night of the year in the Northern Hemisphere. Nature invites us to revel in the dazzling darkness and we will explore what important lessons the ancient wisdom of this time may have to teach us. Join us for worship in-person and online.

Event Series Sunday Worship

Sunday Worship: It’s Sunday Morning

Sanctuary 1260 18th Street, Santa Monica, CA, United States

It's Sunday Morning. Rev. Kikanza Nuri-Robins, preaching; Susan Hendricks, Worship Associate. We know it is Christmas Eve, and many of us look forward to the special customs we share with friends and family around this special day. For some of us, this is one more Sunday morning and we would like to be in church. Wherever you fall on this spectrum, if you are seeking company in a scared space, please come join us. We will sing and reflect and share as we experience one more Sunday Morning. Join us for worship in-person and online.

Event Series Sunday Worship

Sunday Worship: The Joy of Christmas – A Candlelight Service

Sanctuary 1260 18th Street, Santa Monica, CA, United States

Rev. Jeremiah Lal Shahbaz Kalendae, Rev. Amina Mu'mina Marie, Rev. Kikanza Nuri-Robins, preaching; Sue Bickford, Worship Associate. Join us for our annual Christmas Eve Candlelight Service at 6:00 pm as we travel from our sanctuary to Bethlehem to celebrate good tidings of great joy with stories, songs, prayers, and carols. Refreshments and fellowship will follow. All are welcome! Join us for worship in-person and online.

Event Series Sunday Worship

Sunday Worship: The Thread

Sanctuary 1260 18th Street, Santa Monica, CA, United States

The Thread. Chaplain Michael Eselun, preaching; Chela Metzger, Worship Associate. Popular guest speaker, church member, and oncology chaplain, Michael Eselun will reflect and explore the idea of a single thread that may run through our entire lives — what it takes to find it, what is our relationship to it, and how it just might help us make sense of the whole journey thus far. This will mark Michael’s 23rd time in our pulpit. Join us for worship in-person and online.


Generous Congregation Recipient: UNICEF

Our practice here at UUSM is to dedicate half of our non-pledge Sunday Offering to organizations doing work in the world that advances our Unitarian Universalist principles; the other 50% of the offering is used to support the life of our church. This month, half of our Sunday Offering will go to the UNICEF.

Originally called the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund, and now officially the United Nations Children’s Fund, UNICEF is the agency of the United Nations responsible for providing humanitarian and developmental aid to children worldwide. Among the most widespread and recognizable social welfare organizations in the world, it has a presence in 192 countries and territories.

For over 70 years, UNICEF has worked in the world’s toughest places to reach the most disadvantaged children and adolescents – and to protect the rights of every child, everywhere. UNICEF’s mission is to help children survive, thrive and fulfill their potential, from early childhood through adolescence.

UNICEF is the world’s largest provider of vaccines and supports child health and nutrition, safe water and sanitation, quality education and skill building, HIV prevention and treatment for mothers and babies, and the protection of children and adolescents from violence and exploitation.

Before, during and after humanitarian emergencies and despite remarkable challenges, UNICEF is on the ground, bringing lifesaving help and hope to children and families. Non-political and impartial, they are never neutral when it comes to defending children’s rights and safeguarding their lives and futures.

Thank you for your generous support of our beloved community and UNICEF. To give $10 right now, text “$10 GCC” (or another amount) to 844-982-0209. (One-time-only credit card registration required.) Or visit


December 2023 Theme: Mystery

Our Soul Matters theme invites of to consider that we live in a generous and grace-filled world of Mystery.

Article II Connection to the theme of Mystery…  Proposed Amendment 5 to Article II of the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) Bylaws: “As Unitarian Universalists, we proclaim that direct experiences of transcending mystery and wonder are a primary source of inspiration. These experiences open our hearts, renew our spirits, and transform our lives…” – Comment by Matthew Johnson: “This amendment was created by a group of a dozen ministers, and improved by a small group at the workshop. It brings back that beautiful and vital phrase: direct experience of transcending mystery and wonder. It adds scientific at the request of some congregations as well, and clarifies that gratitude is not our response to all of our religious heritages.” Link

On Letting the Mystery Be…     
I think it’s much more interesting to live not knowing than to have answers which might be wrong. I have approximate answers, and possible beliefs, and different degrees of uncertainty about different things, but I am not absolutely sure of anything. There are many things I don’t know anything about, such as whether it means anything to ask, “Why are we here?” I might think about it a little bit, and if I can’t figure it out then I go on to something else. But I don’t have to know an answer. I don’t feel frightened by not knowing things, by being lost in the mysterious universe without having any purpose – which is the way it really is, as far as I can tell. ~ Richard Feynman

I wanted a perfect ending. Now I’ve learned, the hard way, that some poems don’t rhyme, and some stories don’t have a clear beginning, middle, and end. Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what’s going to happen next. Delicious ambiguity. ~ Gilda Radner

It seemed to me, as I struggled afterward to recall the experience, that self was utterly absent: I and the chimpanzees, the earth and trees and air, seemed to merge, to become one with the spirit power of life itself. ~ Jane Goodall on her mystical experience

I like to think of mysticism as the art of meeting reality, the art of richer and deeper awareness. It is an experience that comes unbidden…it is not the intellectual conviction that Being itself is my being, but rather an ineffable experience of that Oneness, flooding in to overwhelm our illusion of aloneness, separateness. ~ Jacob Trapp

On Mystery as the Antidote to Worry…   
I accept that life is uncertain — that the goal is not to become more certain about anything but to relax more into the mystery of not knowing what will come next. And then, miracle of miracles, out there in the deep and uncertain water, I come into a peaceful knowing-a faithful wisdom that surpasses control and certainty. ~ Elizabeth Lesser

On the way to the play we stopped to look at the stars. And as usual I felt in awe. And then I felt even deeper in awe at this capacity we have to be in awe about something. Then I became even more awestruck at the thought that I was, in some small way, a part of that which I was in awe about. And this feeling went on and on. My space chums got a word for it: “awe infinitum.” ‘Cause at the moment you are most in awe of all you don’t understand, you’re closer to understanding it all then at any other time. And I felt so good inside, my heart felt so full, I decided to set time aside each day to do “awe-robics.” ~ Lily Tomlin as “Trudy the Bag Lady”

Primary Wonder. Days pass when I forget the mystery. / Problems insoluble… jostle for my attention… / And then once more the quiet mystery is present to me… / the mystery that there is anything, anything at all… ~ Denise Levertov. Full poem 

On the Mystery of the Person in Front of Us…
To be able to marvel at the face of our neighbor with the same awe we have for the mountain top, the sunlight refracting. This manner of vision is what will keep us from destroying each other. ~ Cole Arthur Riley

On Noticing the Mystery of the Ordinary World in Front of Us…
Inside It All. Beneath the masks, beneath the names… is a thrumming, ecstatic atomic swirl, unseen and omnipresent, inescapable and holy… How is it I sometimes see only woman, man, cottonwood, spider, self, other… ~ Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer  Full piece 

On Mystery’s Call to Humility… 
We have lived by the assumption that what was good for us would be good for the world… We have been wrong. We must change our lives, so that it will be possible to live by the contrary assumption that what is good for the world will be good for us. And that requires that we make the effort to know the world and to learn what is good for it. We must learn to cooperate in its processes, and to yield to its limits. But even more important, we must learn to acknowledge that the creation is full of mystery; we will never entirely understand it. We must abandon arrogance and stand in awe. We must recover the sense of the majesty of creation, and the ability to be worshipful in its presence. For I do not doubt that it is only on the condition of humility and reverence before the world that our species will be able to remain in it. ~ Wendell Berry

On the Mystery of Hanukkah…
The real miracle of Hanukkah is the fact that, even after the Temple was profaned, it could still be restored. Who you are matters. What you need matters, and your intuition-the still, small voice within-tells you this, all the time. The hard part is making the space and time to hear it-but sometimes in the dark, it’s easier to find that one, tiny flicker that we need to follow all the way home.” ~ Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg

When we share something material, we are left with less of what we started. But currencies of spirit, elements such as light, love and knowledge, defy these physical conditions-they increase as they are shared and become eternal. On Chanukah when we use one flame to light another, the glow is not halved – the light is multiplied. ~ Micaela Ezra

On the Mystery of the Solstice…
Winter Solstice. Let there be a season when holiness is heard, / and the splendor of living is revealed… / There are inexplicable mysteries. / We are not alone. / In the universe there moves a Wild One / whose gestures alter earth’s axis toward love… ~ Rebecca Parker. Full poem 


UUSM flaming chalice, round logo

Our service in the world continues.