Setting the Inner Compass – Pride!


Reading poetry is one of the ways some of us nourish our faith, a way we set or reset our inner compass and stay focused on the big picture, on the spiritual journey. I know that is true for me. In this monthly column, ‘Setting the Inner Compass’ I share some of the poems I find nourishing to the soul.

Happy Pride! In most of the world June is PRIDE month, a month when we affirm and celebrate our LGBTQI kindred. As we affirm and celebrate, I find myself grieving the damage done by the church in the name of Jesus to our queer siblings. It breaks my heart and strengthens my resolve. Through almost all of my forty-years as an ordained PCUSA pastor, I have been an active ally and advocated for not just inclusion but affirmation. The last congregation I served, Immanuel in Tacoma, received the Emerald Award from the PRIDE foundation acknowledging our work and commitment.

A couple Sundays ago I preached at the Fox Island UCC. The sermon was part of their PRIDE focus. My text was the woman who was healed from a flow of blood by touching the fringe of Jesus’ garment. During the twelve years she was bleeding it is likely she was considered untouchable. I said this in that sermon:

“As we celebrate PRIDE, I think about all the ways our society and the church has contributed to making our siblings that are gay, bi or trans feel untouchable, unable to be themselves, to express their identity in a public way, seeking a human touch. We have work to do to make sure our nation and church are places where everyone feels a human touch, touched by grace, by God’s love.  In some ways things are better in my denomination than when I entered ordained ministry 40 years ago…. Yet, as we gather here things are changing. More and more states are passing laws that oppress our LGBTQ+ siblings and seek to marginalize them, making them in a way the untouchables, outcasts. In Thursdays NY Times Charles Blow’s op-ed states that we are in an “LGBTQ State of Emergency”. We have work to do.

The woman in our text went away whole, restored to human community.  After twelve long years the woman had her life back. In the light of that story, we need to make sure in our time that all God’s children feel affirmed, embraced, and touched by God’s love and free to touch with tenderness the one they love.”

We have work to do. So far in 2023, 530 pieces of anti L.G.B.T. Q+ legislation has been introduced in over 40 states[1].

My poem this month is the lyrics to the contemporary hymn by Brian Wren, “Good is the Flesh”. It celebrates human flesh and sexuality. It celebrates embodied faith, the “word” became flesh, not a few good ideas or policy statements. Good is the flesh for all God’s children.






Good is the flesh that the Word has become,

    good is the birthing, the milk in the breast,

    good is the feeding, caressing and rest,

    good is the body for knowing the world,

Good is the flesh that the Word has become.

Good is the body for knowing the world,

    sensing the sunlight, the tug of the ground,

    feeling, perceiving, within and around,

    good is the body, from cradle to grave,

Good is the flesh that the Word has become.

Good is the body, from cradle to grave,

    growing and ageing, arousing, impaired,

    happy in clothing, or lovingly bared,

    good is the pleasure of God in our flesh,

Good is the flesh that the Word has become.

Good is the pleasure of God in our flesh,

    longing in all, as in Jesus, to dwell,

    glad of embracing, and tasting, and smell,

    good is the body, for good and for God,

Good is the flesh that the Word has become.

[1] The Human Rights Campaign


“Good is the Flesh” Words:  Brian Wren  © 1989 Hope Publishing Co. All rights reserved.  Used by permission.

Rev. Dave Brown is a writer, poet, and the creator/host of Blues Vespers. He speaks about interfaith understanding with Imam Jamal Rahman and serves on the PCUSA Self Development of People Education national committee and the PCUSA Education Roundtable. Dave is the former pastor of Immanuel Presbyterian Church, Tacoma WA. ([email protected]).

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