Mother’s Day, Pentecost have a lot in common

by guest clergy Wade Ogle

This year, the month of May has two special Sundays. On May 12, we celebrate Mother’s Day, and on May 19, we celebrate the birthday of the church and the coming of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost Sunday.

At first glance, these two celebrations have nothing in common. Many view Mother’s Day as a secular honoring or remembrance of mothers. Pentecost is a religious “high day” recalling Peter’s first sermon and the first great “in-gathering” of believers recorded in the book of Acts.

Yet these two celebrations have a lot in common. The history of Mother’s Day is interesting. Mothering Day in England was originally the celebration of Mary, mother of Jesus, and the mother Anglican church to which folks belonged. In the 17th century, a degree of the church made this day a celebration of all mothers.

Mother’s Day in the U.S. was begun by Julia Ward Howe through a Mother’s Day Proclamation of 1870. Howe, who wrote the Battle Hymn of the Republic, was grieved by all the deaths caused by the Civil War. Her proclamation called mothers together to be an agent of peace and reconciliation.

The first Mother’s Day celebrated on the second Sunday in May was the idea of Anna M. Jarvis in 1908. Her mother had died the previous year. Jarvis was searching for a way to honor her memory. Interestingly, the first official Mother’s Day service was held in Andrews Methodist Church in West Virginia, with more than 400 people attending.

At this service, everyone was given a white carnation (Jarvis’ mother’s favorite flower). It was out of this practice that we get the tradition of giving white carnations in memory of those mothers who have passed away, and red carnations to honor those who have mothers still living.

Mother’s Day has become a day that we remember the guidance and support our mothers have given (or are still giving). We remember and thank God for the care our mothers have provided throughout the years. All countries that celebrate Mother’s Day do so on the second Sunday in May.

Pentecost is also a day that we celebrate One who provides guidance and support – the Holy Spirit, the Advocate, the Counselor, the person of the Trinity active in the world today. Like Mother’s Day, Pentecost Sunday is celebrated by believers around the world at the same time. Pentecost, which is celebrated 50 days after Easter, is on a different Sunday each year.

Red is the color of the Christian Year that we use at Pentecost, symbolizing the continued presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives. Red is also the color of the carnations that honor those mothers still with us.

As we celebrate these two special days, may we all center on the influence of our mothers that have helped mold us into who we are today and the continued power of the Holly Spirit that desires to guide and mold us spiritually in the future.

The Rev. Wade Ogle is the minister at Trinity United Methodist Church, at 6230 Beatties Ford Road, Charlotte. He writes a monthly pastor’s note to his congregation that appears in the church’s newsletter.

We welcome columns from guest pastors who have a faith-based message to share in the Mountain Island Monitor. If you’d like to share, email news@

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