Change comes on the wind (Or at least that’s how it happens in movies).

Written by Julie Clawson : June 12, 2008

Editor’s Note: Below is the first place winner in the praxis category for the Stepping into a Violent Wind Writing Competition:

The scene is set.  A quiet little town or neighborhood existing as it always has.  The habits and rituals of daily life are center stage.  No major crises are looming and yet something is missing.  People appear to be content, but one can see they are not fully alive.  They lack a certain spark, the joie de vivre so to speak that gives passion and purpose to ordinary existence.  This is when the wind changes.  A select few may pause to notice the change marked by the creaking turning of the weather vanes, but then they go their way forgetting they noticed anything at all.  They are unaware how drastically their lives are about to be transformed or that the wind currently whipping through their hair heralds the awakening of their souls.  For with the wind comes a new voice, one that will speak into their lives and set them on an utterly new path.

This is where in the movies we are introduced to say Mary Poppins or Vianne in Chocolat.  Unassuming at first glance, these women blow into town with the wind and quietly get to work at changing lives.  Their ways are a bit unorthodox to be sure.  Having a spoon full of sugar to help the medicine go down or opening up a chocolaterie during Lent just aren’t the way things are done.  Yet one soon discovers that the outward quirks of these women are part of the awakening and healing process they bring to those around them.  From Mary Poppins helping a family learn to love, to Vianne helping a town heal and restore broken relationships, it took the stirrings of something new and different to affect change.  Of course their ways were questioned and ridiculed by those who preferred the status quo, but eventually the winds of change prevailed and a happier much more alive group of people emerged.  At this point, the wind once again changes and pushes onward to new situations in need of this special form of healing and growth.

The image of a mighty rushing wind is of course the Biblical imagery for the Holy Spirit.  On Pentecost change came with the wind as the Holy Spirit came upon the apostles and the other followers of Jesus who had been meeting for prayer.  Yet it isn’t just the Holy Spirit rushing in on the wind that I find so extraordinary (although it certainly is that), it is how it was sent to dwell in and empower Christ’s followers to do the work he left them.  Change didn’t just come with the wind (or as the wind); it took the form of people sent out to transform the world.

Like the Hollywood stories told of Mary Poppins and Vianne, change often occurred through unexpected and unorthodox methods as those who had received the Holy Spirit sought to bring hope and healing to those they encountered.  The Holy Spirit wasn’t blowing haphazardly, stirring hearts to change here and there.  Real people found themselves moved to be the harbingers of these changes – bringing new hope and healing wherever they went.  One finds the church praying in Acts 4 that they might have boldness in spreading the message of Christ.  The scriptures tell us that they were filled with the Holy Spirit and not only were they able to testify powerfully, but that they were unified as a community that took care of each others’ needs.  Radical change came upon the group in ways that brought them closer and healed the hurts of those in need among them.  Change brought about by the work of people empowered by the Spirit.

It is this sort of change that is needed in our world today.  Too often I hear prayers asking for God to send the Spirit to change the hearts of a community or to bring healing to a situation.  These prayers while rightfully trusting in the power of the Spirit fail to recall that the Spirit works through people to affect such changes.  We should be praying instead that we would be emboldened to help change hearts and to heal.  Being filled with the Spirit isn’t something that is done merely for our own good, but to empower us to serve.  Seeking to transform the world is of course something none of us can do on our own strength, but it is a vital part of the very nature of what it means to be filled with the Spirit.

So are we even bothering with the winds of change?  Are we the ones sitting around seemingly content yet utterly unalive when we should be the Mary Poppinses and Viannes of the world?  We have been given the Spirit; we should be empowered by the greatest wind of change ever to blow on this earth - why are we expecting not to have to do anything?  We should be the ones loving boldly, sharing the good news, and taking care of the needs of the hurting.  We should be the ones out there bringing families back together, healing broken marriages, and restoring broken friendships.   We should be the ones overcoming oppression, setting captives free, and seeking justice.  We should truly be acting as witnesses to God’s power.  This is the work to which we are called; this is the change the wind has brought.

Our scene is set.  The wind is blowing.  May we be emboldened to act.

Author Bio: Julie Clawson has spent the last few years helping plant an emerging church in the Chicago suburbs, but will soon be heading back home to Austin, Tx.  She is passionate about social justice, emerging Christianity, gender equality, and really good Tex-Mex food.  Julie is currently working on a book about everyday justice issues and she and her husband Mike are eagerly awaiting the arrival of their second child (any day now).  She blogs at

Mark Van Steenwyk is the editor of He is a Mennonite pastor (Missio Dei in Minneapolis), writer, speaker, and grassroots educator. He lives in South Minneapolis with his wife (Amy), son (Jonas) and some of their friends.

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    This feels like a synchroblog event. Cool. As always - you ripped it up. I'm going to think social change and spirit empowerment when I eat chocolate from now on.
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    Julie! Amazing work as always. With the female protagonists cited, I thought you would go in a different, gender-specific direction with the Holy Spirit. Thanks for reminding us that we are the ones we have been waiting for... harbingers of transformation. Beautiful.


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