We talk about Joy, but think about the dire circumstances: unwed Mary, not-the-Dad Joseph, 80 mile donkey trek, 9 months pregnant, Joseph's feeling the pressure of finding a room, but place after place refusing them, finally the misery of the manger. Joy is most definitely not happy, pleasant circumstances.
Is it a Christmas shopping list? a feast? family-togetherness?
We're reminded of the Sermon on the Mount and Christ's admonition to look past our circumstances -- not to worry about what we'll eat or drink or wear.
Joy is also not the notion that we should just buck-up, keep a stiff upper lip, as if we could dredge up some joy within ourselves.Left to ourselves, Eugene Peterson reminds us that we can't manage joy for long.
John 15:9-12 relates Jesus' likening himself to the vine and us as branches. Without Him, we are nothing but dried up sticks. Remaining in Him, and keeping His commandments, namely through LOVING EACH OTHER, His joy will be within us and will be made complete. God is the source of Joy. Our goal is to love each other and then the joy comes.