Today you will know that the Lord will come, and he will save us,
and in the morning you will see his glory.
The manger is still empty, but will not be for much longer!
In the dangerous dark of medieval Danish winter, one of the Elsinore castle guards, Marcellus, looks ahead to the coming of Christmas – that so hallowed and so gracious time – as a blessed alternative to the uncertainty and chaos that threatens the Kingdom of Denmark in the wake of its king’s suspicious death, the king whose ghost’s restlessness seems such a frightening omen to the castle watchmen. Indeed, the ghost will confirm that Something is rotten in the state of Denmark [Act 1, Scene 4].
Not unlike Shakespeare’s dramatized medieval Denmark, ours is also a polity in deep distress, and we need no benevolent or malevolent spirit to stir abroad to tell us so. Against all that awfulness and tragedy, the only blessing in that rotten state, whether Shakespearean Denmark’s or ours, is one which we cannot bring about ourselves, that so hallowed and so gracious season wherein our Saviour’s birth is celebrated.