As we come to terms with unprecedented change over the past fortnight, and perhaps hold our breath as we face the next few months together, it’s good to pause, draw breath, and be thankful that we live in such a close-knit community, where the spirit seems to show heaven on earth.

On Wednesday, many of us joined in the worldwide call to pray the Lord’s Prayer slowly and in unison with others, and the line that jumped out to me was ‘on earth as it is in heaven’. At this time when things seem dark, the spirit of genuine care and compassion that is evident in Topsham and surrounding areas shines even brighter.

Here is where God is to be found – in the tireless work at the Estuary League of Friends to reach the most vulnerable; in the commitment of LoveTopsham to keep us connected and looking upwards; and the many other groups, social, religious, just plain neighbourly, who are encouraging and helping one another beyond any reasonable expectation.

And now is the time to tap into that outpouring, put in your support networks, establish your daily routine, and make sure that your wellbeing is prioritised in that.

As a church we have gone online and through the phone (as well as having many volunteers with Estuary League of Friends). Please visit A Church Near You website to see what resources (all ages) and encouragement we have to offer. I am offering a daily thought for the day through email, and also a weekly family support posting. If you would like to be on either of those databases, please do let me know.

I can, and am, also supporting anyone, church, community, outer space … all comers welcome … who wants to just touch base, vent their feelings, ask the big questions, or even simply send a smiley face and get one in return.

My contact details are louisegrace45@gmail.com ‪01392873188 or ‪07779585908

I am on steep learning curve with technology but hopefully will be able to offer Zoom from next week.

I am mindful that lots of people will be getting less than the usual rightfully expected face to face care around bereavement over the coming months, whatever the cause of that loss.

The offer of online and telephone support is particularly there for those households.

Those who will have to have very short and limited funerals for their loved ones will be offered full memorial services in the autumn.

I can also signpost to specialised service providers should bereavement or anxiety be getting too much.

Ironically our last service in church was a funeral of a wonderful local woman, Penny Robinson, who embodied much of this Topsham spirit of generosity, kindness, unstinting care for others. This ‘heaven on earth’ spirit.

As we all sang the last hymn wholeheartedly it filled the church with a resonance that was so powerful, I could hear the beautiful words of the reading we had chosen for the service echoing in our hearts, the same words which are  on the banner in front of the church. The words that so many people love, churchgoers or not; it’s from 1Corinthians chapter 13:

Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.

Here for you, waiting together, trusting together.

Rev’d Louise Grace