Sermons

This is a full list of sermons presented at UUCCSM since mid-1999. Links to sermon texts are included when made available by their authors. Audio recordings are also available for most sermons presented after September, 2007 by our staff ministers and others directly affiliated with our church (just click the speaker icon next to each sermon where it's available*). Audio from guest speakers is posted only when we have their permission to share it.

Hard copies of sermons by Rev. Jeremiah Kalendae are available in the church office. Contact office assistant Sibylla Nash at office@uusm.org if you have a request.

"Leaving Room for Hope: Sermons for Uncertain Times," a book of Minister Emerita Judith Meyer's sermons, is available here.

[*Please Note: if you do not see an audio speaker icon below each of the individual sermons on this page, click the small lock-shaped icon next to the page's URL in your address bar, and in the drop-down menu that pops up, make sure "Flash" is set to "Allow." Then re-load the page, and you should be able to see the audio players. Sorry for any inconvenience - we are working to fix this issue.]

July 19, 2020 - 10:00am
The Rainbow Sign (Online Service)
Rev. KC Slack
What does our covenantal faith mean for our relationship with the wider world? What is our duty regarding justice? What happens when we fall short of that promise?
 
We welcome back the Rev. KC Slack, who serves as minister of our neighboring UU Church of the Verdugo Hills, and continues their work as a hospital chaplain, their work as a sex educator, and as an individual spiritual director. In addition, KC is a UU scholartivist (scholar, artist, activist, and spiritual leader). They’re about all multiple everything: bi/pansexual, polyamorous, and pantheistic. Their work blends their mystic UU Pagan faith (don’t worry, they’ll happily tell you too much about it if you ask), ministry, radical politics, heavy theory, joy, art, and living a queerly fabulous life in LA.
 
Born and raised in small-town North East Ohio, our guest preacher comes from a large extended family and what they will tell you are “very rust belt” roots. The grandchild of factory workers and the child of factory managers, KC received a B.A. in Political Science from Case Western Reserve University. After graduation in 2016 from Starr King School for the Ministry, KC completed a year-long Clinical Pastoral Education residency at a mid-sized hospital in Burbank. KC was highly regarded by their peers and supervisors, as well as by medical and administrative staff throughout the hospital. They brought their broad education in world religions and their knowledge of liberatory theologies to their patients and classmates, and worked within the peer group to help future chaplains better understand how to care for LGBT+ patients.
July 12, 2020 - 10:00am
Buddhism, Zen, and a Call to Justice (Online Service)
Rev. James Ishmael Ford
What Buddhism and particularly Zen say to people today seeking ways to engage not only the deeper matters of the heart, but the heart of justice?
 
The Rev. James Ishmael Ford has been a Unitarian Universalist parish minister for 30 years. He is Minister Emeritus of the First Unitarian Church of Providence. In his early retirement he continues to serve, currently as consulting minister for the UU Church in Anaheim. James is also a Zen Buddhist priest, guiding teacher of the Empty Moon Zen sangha, and is the author of several books addressing Zen and Buddhism.
 
 
July 5, 2020 - 10:00am
Lift Every Voice and Sing (Online Service)
Rev. Kikanza Nuri-Robins
A Quest for Freedom. Have you chosen a quest for love or a quest for freedom? What is the cost of each path? Today we will talk about what freedom means spiritually, and how your choices have led to greater or less freedom for your spirit.
 
“Lift Every Voice and Sing” – often called “The Black National Anthem” – was written as a poem by James Weldon Johnson (1871-1938), an American author, educator, lawyer, diplomat, songwriter, and civil rights activist with the NAACP.  In 1899, it was set to music by his brother, John Rosamond Johnson (1873-1954), American composer, singer, and editor of song collections during the Harlem Renaissance.  The inspiring piece was first performed in public in the Johnsons’ hometown of Jacksonville, FL, as part of a celebration of Abraham Lincoln’s Birthday on February 12, 1900, by a choir of 500 schoolchildren at the segregated Stanton School, where James Weldon Johnson was principal.  Published widely, it is included in our UUA hymnal, Singing the Living Tradition, as #149.
 
The Rev. Dr. Kikanza Nuri-Robins is a consultant to people and organizations in transition. She works with non-profits and faith-based organizations around the country helping them address issues of leadership, communication and cultural competence. Her most recent book is Fish Out of Water, and she is currently collaborating on a book about Gender Identities. She is a member of our UUSM community. www.KikanzaNuriRobins.com
June 28, 2020 - 10:00am
"Beyond the Water's Edge" (Online Service from UUA General Assembly)
Rev. Joan Javier-Duval
Please join us - and hundreds of UUs around the country - for the largest Unitarian Universalist worship gathering of the year.
 
This powerful, communal worship experience, a highlight of our denomination’s General Assembly, will stream at https://www.uua.org/ga/off-site/2020/sunday-worship at 10:00 am PDT.  (Note:  The link to the UUA stream will also be shared on our UUSM Facebook page on Sunday, though we will not actually be able to stream the video there.)
 
The Rev. Joan Javier-Duval, minister of the Unitarian Church in Montpelier, VT, will preach, the Rev. Mykal O’Neal Slack will serve as a worship leader, and Benjie Messer will be the music director for this special national UUA service. The worship service will include a collection for the Tomaquag Museum, an indigenous museum featuring an extensive collection and archive of Southern New England tribal communities.
 
For information about the full General Assembly of the Unitarian Universalist Association, visit uua.org/ga. The program will be held online; you can register to be a Virtual GA Participant for an exciting array of meetings, lectures, and workshops June 24 to 28. Registration is not required for several events, including the Sunday morning worship.
 
Also, PLEASE NOTE:
 
ANNUAL MEETING AT 12:00 noon online
The GA service will be followed by our Annual Meeting Presentation at noon by church leaders on Facebook and YouTube. Details will be emailed and mailed to members of the congregation.  Plan to join in online as we gather on June 28 for our 93rd anniversary. More information coming soon.
 

June 21, 2020 - 10:00am
Our Bright Flame (Online Service)
Monthly Theme: Play
Rev. Jeremiah Kalendae
We’ve managed to thrive as a community as we lived into our liberal religious mission in the world this church year. This morning we will celebrate the many accomplishments of the past nine months as we prepare for a period of slowing down, rest, and restoration in July and August. Come celebrate this church year and explore what our bright future holds.
June 14, 2020 - 10:00am
Playmate (Online Service)
Monthly Theme: Play
Rev. Kikanza Nuri-Robins
Are you having fun yet? This spring has been a time of high anxiety — and crisis management. We have experienced the Flight, Fight, Freeze response to the unknown and unwelcome, and now we are moving into a different mode of interaction. We didn’t celebrate Pride Sunday, the last two weeks in the world has been extraordinary, summer is coming. Most of us are still cloistered, we all need a break, and I don’t think any of us is going on vacation. How are you caring for your spirit? Even if it means just taking small moments to breathe, we need to find ways to laugh and play as we work to change the world.
 
The Rev. Dr. Kikanza Nuri-Robins is a consultant to people and organizations in transition. She works with non-profits and faith-based organizations around the country helping them address issues of leadership, communication and cultural competence. Her most recent book is Fish Out of Water, and she is currently collaborating on a book about Gender Identities. She is a member of our UUSM community. www.KikanzaNuriRobins.com
June 7, 2020 - 10:00am
Civil Awakening (Online Service)
Rev. Jeremiah Kalendae
Our congregation proudly declared “Black Lives Matter!” and we commit ourselves to the difficult soul work of dismantling white supremacy within ourselves and in our society. Join us for a special service exploring the liberatory power being unleashed in the world as we transform LGBTIQ Pride Month into an intersectional call for racial justice.
May 31, 2020 - 10:00am
What Do We Need to Live? (Online Service)
Monthly Theme: Thresholds
Rev. Judith Meyer
 
 
 
While it may be too soon to draw durable lessons from the pandemic, it still prompts us to ask ourselves what we need to live. Our awareness of suffering and uncertainty, combined with the challenge and sameness of our days, may offer some new answers.
 
The Rev. Judith Meyer served as the Minister of UUSM for 15 years, from 1993 to 2008. Upon her retirement, the congregation voted her Minister Emerita. She now lives in Knoxville, Tennessee, with her husband, David Denton.  We’re excited that she can join us for this service.
 

Update/Disclaimer from Worship Associate Aubrey Sassoon:

While our Sunday worship for this morning, Sunday May 31st, will soon be streamed, we thought it important to preface it with this disclaimer: due to the nature of our online worship format many of the components of the service are recorded ahead of time -- sometimes by as much as a week -- and so when events develop quickly we’re less able to give them the immediate space to process as we might otherwise during an in-person service.
 
This week has been a hard one, and for none more so than our Black and African-American friends, family, and community members. The threat of violence against Christian Cooper in New York, the murder of George Floyd at the hands of police in Minneapolis, and of Tony McDade in Tallahasee, just to name the recent few, are tragic and enraging and have inspired thousands upon thousands of people across the country and the world to protest the treatment of Black persons, particularly men, in our white-centered culture. 
 
As a leader in our UUSM community and your worship associate this morning I want to take this opportunity to affirm that the violence leveled at these men, and the loss of their lives weighs heavily on our community. To be true friends, allies, accomplices, to the glory of the lives of people in our communities and beyond who are different from us we have to open ourselves bravely to accountability and not perform acts of solidarity simply for social clout, but because they are the right thing to do as we live into the principles of our Unitarian Universalist beliefs.
 
Some protests, including those here in Los Angeles, have developed elements of what some call rioting or looting. Many are familiar with the quote of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who explained that “a riot is the language of the unheard.” It is an expression of the anger and heartache and loss and trauma of generations after generations of people who have been told that their pain is lesser and their futures are not their own to build, and that to protest or resist this will never be acceptable. As a white individual I have not grown up with this burden, nor have my brother or sister or mother or father. I cannot comprehend, nor will I ever, the full extent to which that affects a person, and so I refuse to be the judge of how anyone responds when that pain is prodded to the surface.
 
In our own church we will be working to build space for those who are most directly affected as they process these events and aspects of our community and society. 
 
As I sit here this Saturday night, unsure still what changes may come in the morning as a city-wide curfew has come into place, I hope the worship we present to you can still bring solace and support to any who need it.
 
I am glad that you are here.
 
-Aubrey Sassoon, Worship Associate

 

May 24, 2020 - 10:00am
Our Sabbath (Online Service)
Monthly Theme: Thresholds
Rev. Jeremiah Kalendae
Sundays are a sacred time for worship, rest, and play in our tradition. That is perhaps especially true in this time of quarantine. How did it come to be that we gather like this for a time of Sabbath? This week we will explore the Jewish and Christian origins of our sacred day and its relevance to our lives.
 
 
May 17, 2020 - 10:00am
Liminal Space (Online Service)
Monthly Theme: Thresholds
Rev. Kikanza Nuri-Robins

When you are finished with where you are, and not yet where you are going, and not entirely clear about why you are where you are, you are in Liminal Space. Resting in the arms of ambiguity might become a spiritual practice for you. Join us as we consider how we might take greater advantage of the grey areas in our lives.

The Rev. Dr. Kikanza Nuri-Robins is a consultant to people and organizations in transition. She works with non-profits and faith-based organizations around the country helping them address issues of leadership, communication and cultural competence. Her most recent book is Fish Out of Water and she is currently collaborating on a book about gender identities. She is a member of our UUSM community.  http://www.KikanzaNuriRobins.com