The Interfaith Contact Group

The Brighton & Hove Interfaith Contact Group


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Welcome to the Words of Connection blog

March 23, 2020

The pandemic has brought pain as well as mixed emotions; spiritual comfort is essential at these times.

With this in mind the IFCG is building a collection of prayers, poems and readings suitable for those of faith and none. The words have been created at this tender moment, and also taken from other sources that may seem relevant.

The first reading on our blog is a prayer written by Rabbi Elizabeth Tikvah Sarah, and this beautiful prayer has already been used in our community. Jef Jones, the Lay preacher of Brighton Unitarian Church recited it when he closed his service streamed on Sunday 22nd March.

It is followed by the widely published prayer entitled Lockdown by Brother Richard Hendrick, plus another from the secretary of the IFCG – Charlotte Gravestock. The final is a quite different poetic rendering entitled Do Not be Afraid, by Stephanie Christopher.


Eternal One, Rock of our lives, we turn to you in the midst of this coronavirus crisis, seeking refuge and a foothold – and also encouragement as we try to find our own courage. As social distancing prevents us from experiencing the joys of life in community, may the need to withdraw and stay well be accompanied by the urge to reach out to others with compassion and care and to forge and renew connections, even in the absence of physical contact. Recalling the trials of those who went before us and their endurance and survival, may we find the strength to endure even in the face of pain and loss, and the insight to know that this challenging time will pass. As the natural world renews itself, may we be inspired by the wonders and marvels of the Earth to discover through this crisis pathways to renewal and new hope.  And let us say: Amen.

Rabbi Elli Tikvah Sarah
Brighton and Hove Progressive Synagogue
March 2020 – Adar 5780


Lockdown by Brother Richard: (Hendrick)

Yes there is fear.
Yes there is isolation.
Yes there is panic buying.
Yes there is sickness.
Yes there is even death.
They say that in Wuhan after so many years of noise
You can hear the birds again.
They say that after just a few weeks of quiet
The sky is no longer thick with fumes
But blue and grey and clear.
They say that in the streets of Assisi
People are singing to each other
across the empty squares,
keeping their windows open
so that those who are alone
may hear the sounds of family around them.
They say that a hotel in the West of Ireland
Is offering free meals and delivery to the housebound.

Today a young woman I know
is busy spreading fliers with her number
through the neighbourhood
So that the elders may have someone to call on.
Today Churches, Synagogues, Mosques and Temples
are preparing to welcome
and shelter the homeless, the sick, the weary
All over the world people are slowing down and reflecting
All over the world people are looking at their neighbours in a new way
All over the world people are waking up to a new reality
To how big we really are.
To how little control we really have.
To what really matters.
To Love.
So we pray and we remember that
Yes there is fear.
But there does not have to be hate.
Yes there is isolation.
But there does not have to be loneliness.
Yes there is panic buying.
But there does not have to be meanness.
Yes there is sickness.
But there does not have to be disease of the soul
Yes there is even death.
But there can always be a rebirth of love.
Wake to the choices you make as to how to live now.
Today, breathe.
Listen, behind the factory noises of your panic
The birds are singing again
The sky is clearing,
Spring is coming,
And we are always encompassed by Love.
Open the windows of your soul
And though you may not be able
to touch across the empty square,


‘Pandora hastened to replace the lid! but, alas! the whole contents of the jar had escaped, one thing only excepted, which lay at the bottom, and that was hope.’

 The current situation may well make us feel that the Corona virus has so suddenly unleashed such a chain of disasters across the globe, that we are living the mythological dimension.  But notwithstanding our understandable fear and sadness, may our enforced isolation encourage us to reflect on the many positives that could result from the present crisis:

May we
Learn to live in the present and treasure the moment

  • Re-assess our true values and priorities
  • Make do with less ‘stuff’
  • Travel less
  • Foster community spirit
  • Re-evaluate the importance of low-paid key workers in relation to the ‘Big Bosses’
  • Better understand how most people in the world have to live all the time
  • Be both hopeful and humble in our scientific endeavours

 Spirit of Life,
Comfort the broken hearted; lift up those in despair; energise the exhausted; calm the fearful; restrain the impatient;  fill us with hope, determination and compassion.  Amen.
Charlotte Gravestock, Hove Methodist Church, IFCG Secretary


Do Not Be Afraid
Stephanie Christopher

Do not be afraid
We have been given time
To think…

To think
Of ourselves
Of each other
Of the lonely
Of those that risk all
The brave and bright
The tired and weary

Do not be afraid
We have been awarded time
To encounter peace
Reflect on triviality
Witness degradation
Admire the good
And mourn the departed

Do not be afraid
We have been given time
To think and talk to each other
Shouting across the divide
Walking empty streets
Knowing sorrow

Do not be afraid
We have been given time
And the earth has spoken
She will breathe
She will rejoice
She will reward her children
Creatures of the sea
And the land

Mother nature will know
She will wait
And watch
And then discover
If we have learned
What we must do
To this most perfect place
We call home
Before it is too late

Please use all contributions to this page in any way you wish. We have more to follow in the days to come. May peace and health be with you.