Bringing back the ones that we have lost


As we near the end of this year 2022, it’s only natural to look back and remember those who are no longer with us. This month organizations will be placing Christmas wreaths on all the graves of Veterans, including my father’s grave. Newspapers and television stations will hold their annual observance of those who were notable or famous who died during this past year. The last Sunday of the Church year, which this year was November 20TH, marks the observance of Totenfest, again remembering those who have been lost.

Many people, including myself, are still stunned, if not numbed, regarding the total number of American citizens who were lost due to COVID-19. There were 98.4 million cases of COVID-19 in the United States out of a total US population of 338 million and the fatality rate was 1.9 Million people. 

Regarding the total number of military personnel who have died in all of the wars fought by the U.S., David Hacker conducted further investigations and claimed that the number was closer to 750,000 (and possibly as high as 850,000).

The COVID-19 Virus has killed more people than all of the deaths accumulated in all of the wars which have involved the United States.

We have lost a great deal of lives, of dreams. Many also have lost businesses, vocations, livelihoods.

How do we begin to recover as people and as a nation from all of this loss?

There is an imperative for people of faith to remember and to keep alive those who have gone on before us. The book of Hebrews declares:

“since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith (Hebrews 12:1-2).”

What do we do now to honor the lives lost to Covid-19? Can we cherish those who have given us their legacy and celebrate what God, however known, would have us to do in our present time?

My cousin, George Richard Gullixson Jr., lived in Vancouver, Washington. He was born Dec. 11, 1941 and died on Jan. 21, 2021. He died on Inauguration Day of Covid-19 and complications due to Parkinson’s Disease. I officiated at his Memorial service Aug.15, 2021 in Portland, Or. George was active for years in the Portland Civic Theatre. His memory was honored by having lots of Broadway and Film music performed during his service: “Memories” from Cats, “Moon River” “You’ll Never Walk Alone,” “Somewhere Over The Rainbow.” This music channeled the essence of George’s life. Even in the celebration of his life, his essence was with us.

That’s what it means when we take the old and bring it into a new time, like we do every New Year’s Eve.

I know a journalist who is an advocate for women’s news stories. This person will write stories having to do with economics, housing, health care and how this effects the lives of women, particularly older women who find themselves living alone. These stories channel and celebrate the legacy of great women who have been in our lives as family members and as friends.

As we observe the end of this current year and as we look forward to the clean slate of the new year 2023, let us be mindful to keep alive, through our words, thoughts and behaviors, those who have come before, those who have contributed and given much to us.

For we do not do life’s work alone.

We don’t do the Lord’s work alone.

May we celebrate our continuing ‘cloud of witnesses’ now and always.

May it be so.

Rev. Peter E. Bauer is a United Church of Christ minister. He is the Interim Minister for First Christian Church in Lockhart. He has been a regular contributor to the Huffington Post and Medium.Com.


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