Sermons

Julia Boral
Sermon for Youth Sunday
June 11, 2017

When Hazel first reached out to me about giving the sermon this Sunday I was enthusiastic, high school seniors before me had traditionally preached on Youth Sunday, and it was now my turn to give back to the community in this way. I have been a part of Saint Pauls for 11 years now (give or take a few years) and I know I would not be who I am today without this warm, welcoming, fun, and accepting place. I have had the most exceptional mentors and friends, young and old who have taught me how to forgive, support, and love.

In the past couple of years photography has become an important art form to me. As my fourth and final photo class came to an end it was hard to not get a little nostalgic about these classes and how photography have been a large part of my high school career. As a photographer I am constantly thinking about how to frame a shot and what story I can tell from a photograph, even if I do not have my camera with me. At the Saint Pauls retreats I have captured moments of kids at play, nature, and gathering times. I enjoy observing these interactions because of the memories that can be shared from them.

This past October I had the opportunity to travel to Detroit, Michigan for a few days, where on one of the afternoons I explored the decaying Packard Plant. The Packard Plant was an automotive factory in the 1910s that produced luxury cars, and was considered the most modern factory of its kind in the world. Today, walking through the plant, it is eerily silent. The decaying building has windows smashed, garbage strewn about, and steel beams arching from the crumbling ceilings. Although it may appear a dismal sight, this new state of the building is beautiful in its own way.

The lasting economic effects of wealth inequality that I saw in Detroit caused me to wonder, how could this happen? And what policies and actions need to be put in place so that future economic disasters are prevented? As a member of the youth group at St. Pauls I participated in a program called City Reach. At the program I helped collect food, clothing, and personal care items for hundreds of people who are experiencing homelessness in Boston. During my second City Reach experience I connected with a woman who had recently gotten out of an abusive relationship and was in a much better situation. Speaking with this woman about homelessness in Boston I could see her getting angry about how she and others experiencing homelessness felt that the mayor and government officials were not doing enough. Walking through Detroit and speaking with guests at City Reach has spurred my yearning to learn more about the causes of poverty and homelessness.

My Economics class from this past year opened my eyes to the repercussions of economic disasters and the unequal distribution of wealth around the world. In this class we looked at the work from several photographers who documented images for the global project Dollar Street. Dollar Street was developed by Anna Rosling Rönnlund at Gapminder, which documents hundreds of households in many different countries, and photographs hundreds of these household objects. This project and organization fight to challenge misconceptions about global development with a fact-based worldview. While pouring over these images of families and their cherished items from all over the world, I was surprised and amazed by the differences in the objects that were seen as a ‘bedor a ‘place to sit. One girl from a wealthy family from Latvia had many books and stuffed animals as toys, while another childs family in Romania had a discarded plastic doll as a toy. The contrast between the lives of the two families was striking. By photographing these differences viewers are able to see how people around the world live, which begins to give faces and identities to these countries.

As I continue to develop my style as a photographer I believe that I will always keep in mind to shoot with the idea that someday the subjects will no longer exist. In Detroit, the city is currently making plans to use the land that the Packard Plant is on. One day the remains will be cleared out and new buildings will be built. In developing countries people are being forced from their homes due to globalization and climate change. It is vital to preserve their cultures in any way possible, especially through photography because one day they may cease to exist.

The people of Saint Pauls have been an inspiration to me in the demonstration of putting faith in action. Hearing stories and seeing images from the Honduras trips, attending presentations on the work of Ministries Outside the Parish, and watching Sunday school teachers give their time to work with younger kids to learn more about our faith and traditions all have motivated me to want to give back to this community and others in my life.

In the fall I will be heading up north to attend Skidmore College. I imagine I will continue photography or art in some way by taking classes and joining clubs with a focus on art. I also plan on continuing doing service in the community and further educating myself on both global and local political and humanitarian issues, and who knows maybe Ill even find a chapel..., and through all the changes that will come I will carry my experiences and lessons from Saint Pauls with me.

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