Pastor's Blog

A Well-Deserved Rest Posted 11.09.2013

She turned 101 earlier this year, but this morning she is celebrating with the angels.  Not a bad run, I’d say.  But with her passing, there goes a generation.  Avis Beisner was a fixture at the small church in which I grew up in Downey.  I can’t remember a Sunday growing up when she wasn’t in church.  We buried her husband thirty-five years ago, but she remained faithful.  On Tuesday we will lay Avis to rest, a well deserved rest.


My memories are of a woman fastidious for the reputation of God.  The communion cloth was never presentable on the altar until it was ironed – and starched, of course.  And way back then, it was definitely not acceptable for you to bring a cake to share at church that was not made from scratch.  At least she never did.  Ever.  She mellowed with age (so I’m told).  She did finally admit that box mixes had so improved that I think by her 80’s she preferred the box mix to a cake from scratch.  Oh, Avis.  Well, Mrs. Beisner for most of my life.


But life has a way of making some quirky twists and turns.  It was with her late husband that I went to our denomination’s offices in Pasadena to inquire as to how you close the doors of the church.  Not a great meeting, but getting to know Howard was a treat for me.


And it was Avis’s daughter who called me one afternoon in late August.  It was 1982, I was unemployed, out of seminary, substituting in Bell Gardens and Montebello and Norwalk.  That was a great use for my seminary degree.  Anyway, the call came from Joyce who said the school at which she taught was looking for a Bible teacher.  Would I be interested?  Does it pay?  Then, yes.


I interviewed for the job.  It was teaching Bible in a private school, which included middle school and high school.  Not sure if it was because of the nearness of the opening bell, or if I just impressed them (I’m sure that’s it), but I got the job teaching three sections of seventh grade Bible (and then the other periods I served as Activities Director at the high school).  My first full-time job.  Whew.  And the bonus was that I could use my seminary degree – which they were thrilled to include in their promotional literature I’m sure.


But there was a certain Home Economics teacher at Brethren who caught my eye.  Within 18 months we were married….and three years later on our way to desert to begin my stint as a youth pastor.  All because of a rather fateful phone call from Avis’ daughter.  That was of the Lord, I’d say.  Fascinating how God works sometimes.  So I say farewell to another of the “mom’s” of my youth.  There aren’t any left now.  Avis, enjoy your reward.  I will keep my eye out for the continued working of the hand of God in my life.  I learned to watch -- from you.


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