Oddly Enough

British vicar catches fire waiting for God's answer

(Reuters) - A British vicar got more than he expected from his first attempt at an online sermon when he leaned too close to a candle on a cross and his sweater caught fire.

Vicar Stephen Beach of St Budeaux parish church reacts as his sweater catches fire while delivering a video sermon, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Plymouth, Britain, March 19, 2020, in this still image from video obtained via social media. Video taken March 19, 2020. ST BUDEAUX PARISH CHURCH via REUTERS.

Stephen Beach of St Budeaux Parish Church in Plymouth, southwest England, was getting his congregation to reflect on the experience of waiting in the final section of a sermon delivered from his home last week.

“It’s a great thing to pause in the presence of God and to ask the question: Lord God, what are you saying to us?,” Beach said, warming to the theme.

“And then, of course, to wait for an answer. I’ve just been pausing between these...” he continues before realising his left shoulder has moved too close to the flame.

“Oh dear, I just caught on fire”, he exclaimed, batting and blowing out the flame. “Oh my word.”

Video sermons are part of the Plymouth church’s response to the coronavirus crisis, trying to encourage people to keep faith and sustain their normal outlook on life, the vicar told Reuters in a message.

“My family love it, and the youngest grandchildren want to know when Granddad is going to set himself on fire again,” Beach added.

Several places of worship around the world have adopted online prayers and services in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak.

In a television message watched by more than 27 million people on Monday evening, Prime Minister Boris Johnson ordered Britons to stay at home, told nearly all shops to close and banned social gatherings including weddings and baptisms.

(This story is refiled to remove extraneous “the” from fourth paragraph)

Reporting by Nur-Azna Sanusi; Writing by Karishma Singh