January 2024 Worship Services

With All Your heart neon signage

January’s Ministry Theme is Liberating Love

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 Given that the state of emergency has been lifted, they are no longer in effect.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: The Mustard Seed

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

The Mustard Seed. Rev. Jeremiah Lal Shahbaz Kalendae, preaching; Karen Hsu Patterson, worship associate. The Christian Church arose from humble beginnings. “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed…though it is the smallest of all seeds, when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds come and perch in its branches.” —Matthew 13:31–32  The mustard seed is akin to individual faith and the wider church community. Though small, it grows larger than we can possibly imagine. No matter how modest, it can flourish and impact lives profoundly, embodying the transformative power of belief. Join us for worship in-person and online.

Event Series Sunday Worship

Sunday Worship: Ahimsa, The Way of Nonviolence

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

Ahimsa, The Way of Nonviolence. Rev. Jeremiah Lal Shahbaz Kalendae, preaching; Michael McCormack, worship associate. Nonviolence is a religious virtue in many religious paths and especially in the dharmic traditions of India. With so much violence in the world, on television, in our schools, and in our communities, we will reflect upon this ancient spiritual teaching and consider its application to our lives and our common pursuit of social equity and justice. We will celebrate the prophetic embrace of non-violence by human and civil rights movements around the globe and especially the leadership of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. this morning. Join us for worship in-person and online.

Event Series Sunday Worship

Sunday Worship: Try a Little Tenderness

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

Rev. Dr. Kikanza Nuri-Robins, preaching; Cassie Winters, worship associate. Try a Little Tenderness. It is true, as the saying goes, that you can catch more flies with honey, than with vinegar, but who wants a room full of flies? Sometimes it is easier to be the crochety one, seeing all that is wrong, guarding your boundaries with epithets and dire warnings. What happens when you lead with your softer sides? How much easier will life be if you respond from your heart, rather than your head? How much work must you do to move to this tender approach to life? Perhaps you are already there...and can help a grouchy friend to relax into love. Join us for worship in-person and online. 

Event Series Sunday Worship

Sunday Worship: Sri Ramana Maharshi, Knowing One’s Self

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

Sri Ramana Maharshi, Knowing One's Self. Rev. Jeremiah Lal Shahbaz Kalendae, preaching; Sue Bickford, worship associate. Join us as we explore the life and teachings of one of the great saints of the Hindu tradition: Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi. After a near-death experience in his early years, he claimed he experienced enlightenment and then he spent the rest of his life teaching a path that was applicable to many religious traditions. Central to his teachings was consistent inquiry into the nature of one's Self. Join us for worship in-person and online. 



Homeboy Industries logoJanuary Generous Congregation Recipient: Homeboy Industries


Our practice here at UUSM is to dedicate half of our non-pledge Sunday offerings to to support the life of our church and the other 50% to organizations doing work in the world that advances our Unitarian Universalist principles. This month we’ll share our Sunday Offering with Homeboy Industries.

Perhaps you’ve purchased some Homeboy chips, salsa, or bread at a farmer’s market — or visited Homegirl Cafe in LA? And did you hear Father Boyle when we invited him to give the 2011 Ernie Pipes Lecture?

paper coffee cup with image of Homegirl cafe & cateringHomeboy Industries provides hope, training, and support to formerly gang-involved and previously incarcerated men and women, allowing them to redirect their lives and become contributing members of our community. Founded in 1988, they offer a continuum of free services and programs, including social enterprises that serve as job-training sites, like bakeries, cafes, catering, and a variety of branded merchandise marts. Learn more about this amazing nonprofit.

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


January 2024 Theme: The Gift of Liberating Love

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

In the midst of uncertainty, may our chalice be a beacon of encouragement, / that our values may guide our choices. / Let us look first at the response of love. ~ Rev. Maureen Killoran; full piece 

Putting our love in boxes with qualifications: I will love you if – I will see you if – I will bear the truth of my soul alongside you if – and only if… you agree with me, you look like me, you act like me, you sing like me, you wear your gender on your sleeve and produce it upon demand. I will love you and will meet you in the sanctuary of our hearts – If and only if… / And so today,… Let our willingness to love beyond our expectations or experience break down our long held barriers… May there truly be more love, with no labels, and no binary, and no preface, and no qualification, and no arithmetic, and no limit… ~ Rev. Nancy McDonald Ladd, excerpt from “More Love”; full piece found in To Wake, To Rise, UUA meditation manual


On The Liberating Love of Universalism (Love Without Limit)

Historically, Universalism was the belief no one would go to hell – that there was universal salvation. Love was that powerful – more powerful than death. This freed our Universalist ancestors to stop worrying about the afterlife and instead work to bring heaven to earth. It was up to us to replicate the eternal fractal of the afterlife on earth.  … If you believed to your very core that all were loved, all were worthy, it would never occur to you to hurt another. ~ Rev. Sara Smalley

Fear’s pronoun is singular: I’ve got to watch out for me and mine. Love’s pronoun is plural: we’re in this together, and together we can grow things that will blossom even in a time of drought. ~ Rev. Kathleen McTigue


On Unconditional Love

Even after all this time, / the sun never says to the earth, / “You owe me.” / Look what happens with a love like that. / It lights the whole sky. ~ Hafiz

There is nothing wrong with me. I have patterns to unlearn, new behaviors to embody & wounds to heal. But there is nothing wrong with the core of me & who I am. I am unlearning generations of harm and remembering love. It takes time. ~ Yolo Akili Robinson, The Liberation Found in Self-Love

Self-care (and self-love) is never a selfish act — it is simply good stewardship of the only gift I have, the gift I was put on earth to offer others. Anytime we can listen to our true self and give it the care it requires, we do so not only for ourselves, but for the many others whose lives we touch. ~ Parker Palmer

Self-love means not letting the opinions, preferences, needs, and desires of others dictate your life. ~ Bernie Siegel

Whenever I hear someone I love being hard on themselves—whether referring to something they did, how they look, or a habit they can’t kick—I have a little rejoinder. I always say, “Don’t talk about my friend like that.” ~ Suleika Jaouadr

I do not sound “like a man” … / Silence and symphony; / This is my gift to me, / to Love the sound of my own voice / like it’s a gift from God themself, / and speak it’s million colors. ~ Rev. Juniper Meadows, excerpt of “A Love Letter to My Voice” (a poem about working through gender dysphoria)


On the Pull (and Push) of Love

Mystics experience a full-bodied embrace and acceptance by Divine Love, and then spend their lives trying to verbalize and embody it. They invariably find ways to give that love back through forms of service and worship, but it’s never earning the love — it’s always returning the love. ~ Richard Rohr


The Demands of Liberating Love

I am confused by people who say they love us but are never upset when we are treated unjustly. The two simply cannot co-exist. A love that’s aloof isn’t a love I have any use for. I need a love that is troubled by injustice. ~ Austin Channing Brown


 On Dr. King’s Call to Connect Love and Power

Power without love is reckless and abusive, and love without power is sentimental and anemic. Power at its best is love implementing the demands of justice, and justice at its best is power correcting everything that stands against love. ~ Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Love [is] the antithesis of the will to dominate and subjugate. ~ bell hooks

When we understand love as the will to nurture our own and another’s spiritual growth, it becomes clear that we cannot claim to love if we are hurtful and abusive. Love and abuse cannot coexist. ~ bell hooks

We do this because the world we live in is a house on fire and the people we love are burning. ~ Sandra Cisneros, on why she writes and speaks out against oppression

Love looks different when we relate to systems. / Love looks different in the face of injustice. / It is then that / Love is resistant / Love is defiant… / Love is challenging — because none of us is free until all of us are free… ~ Rev. Julie Taylor



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Our service in the world continues.