LONDON – A Church of Scotland minister has planned a "Chocolate Sunday" this weekend to encourage his flock to think about sacrificing something greater than the usual chocolate during Lent.
While the Rev. Albert Bogle of Bo'ness St Andrew's suspects that a chocolate fountain and chocolate sweets for parishioners may entice some non-churchgoers, he insists he is holding Chocolate Sunday to remind his congregation about the true meaning of Lent.
"We're inviting people to debunk the secularity of Lent – too often we give up the things that cost us very little," he said.
"We won't change the world by giving up chocolate but we can if we take up a cause that's worth dying for," he noted. "Although it's a bit tongue-in-cheek, people can eat the chocolate, but what we really want to do is take up our crosses and start serving others."
His message echoes that of the moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, the Rt. Rev. Bill Hewitt, who encouraged Christians to use the period of Lent to serve others rather than give up their usual indulgences.
In his message for Lent, Hewitt criticized the "selfish pursuit" of money and urged people to reject the hedonistic lifestyles of some celebrities.
"Many people use the discipline of these weeks to give up chocolate or fish suppers or the likes, but I prefer the idea of Lent being a time of giving of ourselves in service to others," he said.
"This runs contrary to a culture that suggests that the only thing that motivates people is money."
South of the border, people are being invited to submit their prayer requests to the Church of England's Web-based service SayOneForMe.org.
The website, which will stay live during Lent, is a Web version of public prayer boards in churches where members of the public can leave their prayer requests.
The prayers submitted to the website will be later offered on their behalf by bishops during their own prayer times.
The Bishop of Dudley, the Rt. Rev. David Walker, said, "Of course, nobody needs a dog collar to be heard by God, but for many people, knowing that someone else is praying for us gives us the confidence to make our own prayers, and prayer is often the gateway to hope."