Myrrhbearers is a mouthful of a word. It makes you pause in wonder. What could it hold? How could it hold you?
I discovered the Myrrhbearers from the Magi. As I worked on my Epiphany retreat, I delighted in digging down theological rabbit holes.
Researching the meaning of myrrh was one I couldn’t resist. What was the symbolism of the gifts the magi brought? Where did myrrh come from? What was it used for?
Suddenly a strange word appeared on my screen: Myrrhbearers.
Icons and imagery abounded, showing the holy women who brought oil and spices to the tomb to anoint Jesus’ body. I dove into the rich tradition of Orthodox Christianity around the Myrrhbearers, and how this group of saints is honored each Easter.
But beyond the history and art and spirituality, the word itself grabbed me.
The more I learned about the Myrrhbearers, the more I saw the word as a gift in itself. I wanted to dwell with it and dive into the stories of the women and men who bear this holy name. Right now when the world feels dark, what light might they help us bear to each other?
Out of Epiphany was born this new retreat. I can’t wait to share it with you.
. . .
This retreat is designed to meet you halfway through Lent. Not the shiny start where everything seems possible. But the muddled middle, where you’ve given up on half your Lenten practices.
This is exactly where the Myrrhbearers are waiting to meet us.
They were real people too, with shortcomings and fears and failings. But they kept showing up, even when everything seemed darkest.
Exactly where God was waiting to surprise them.
. . .
The virtual retreat will run from March 11-14. Each evening we’ll gather on Zoom for an hour—to pray, reflect, learn, and listen together. You’ll have the option to stay for small group discussion, to deepen your reflection on Scripture and build community with others.
Retreat sessions will be recorded so you can go back and listen or catch up if you miss a day or two. The recordings will remain live for 30 days following the retreat, so you can return to them during Lent and into Easter.
During the rest of the retreat days, you’ll continue to pray with the resources in the companion e-book: Scripture, prayer, and reflections to take you beyond the four days of retreat.
The Myrrhbearers Companion Book offers a full guide through the entire season of Lent with reflections for each week. Simple enough to dip into (if you’ve already got a plan for prayerful reading through Lent) and deep enough to dwell within (if you’re still looking for inspiration).
Each week you’ll learn more about the women and men who knew Jesus intimately and followed him faithfully—from his days of ministry in Galilee to his suffering on the cross and the glory of the Resurrection.
. . .
The Myrrhbearers were saints and sinners, women and men, ordinary and extraordinary Christians. Their stories have shaken me awake and shown me a way forward through this hard year.
I want to share this with each of you. And I promise you this:
You will never hear the Easter stories the same way after you spend Lent with the Myrrhbearers. Their faith is fire and strength and courage—and we need it now.
(And to read another story of myrrhbearing—and birth and death and new life—click here for The Holy Labor.)
“A myrrhbearer is anyone who is willing to bring comfort and solace to another. These women challenge us to leave our security and to put aside conventional thinking and rules in order to care for one another.”
(Sister Catherine Ward, I.H.M.)