The season of giving, even when it means the coat off your back


      As a child, whenever my grandmother would talk about a generous person, she would usually end with the declaration, "He would give a stranger the coat off his back." 
      I've always associated this statement with true generosity, concern, and Christian love. I mean, after all, we are all willing to do just about anything . . . for the people we know and love.  But to show that kind of love to a stranger is the mark of a truly caring person.
   A few weeks ago the song "They Will Know We are Christians by Our Love" got stuck in my head. As I hummed along, that song melded with the phrase so often used by my grandmother, and the mission project "Coat Off Your Back" was born.    On Christmas Eve, members of our congregation will literally give the coats off their backs to be donated to MUST Ministries.  
      As we each make the walk from our warm and comfortable church to our warm and comfortable cars, in that cold and dark space between, we will stand in solidarity with the homeless and hungry, and we will let the world know we are Christians by our love for a stranger.  
    MUST Ministries saw my Facebook post about this event and called to tell me that they are stealing the idea and asking other churches to do the same. So on Christmas Eve, my prayer is that God and my grandmother are looking down on us and smiling, and that many others across the North Georgia Conference will join in this effort and give the coats off their backs.  
     The recipients of the coats may never see our faces, but they will feel our love.  And they'll know we are Christians by our love.
      Teresa Angle-Young serves as pastor of Sacred Tapestry UMC in Marietta.