About ten years ago, I was half of a decade into my happy marriage and about the same amount of time into my less-than-happy career. I was driving at least two hours every day to commute to a job that made me miserable. I wanted a different job, and I wanted to be a mom, and if I couldn’t have those things, I at least wanted to be entertained while I was waiting for those things. Enter the public library, with its rows of audiobooks that kept me awake and somewhat lucid during my driving hours. One evening at the library, I noticed a DVD collection of Gilmore Girls, a television series some of my friends had recommended. I picked it up on a Friday evening, and I was completely charmed and entranced by Sunday afternoon.

The show, in case you haven’t already been similarly drawn in, takes place in the fictional town of Stars Hollow, Connecticut, where single mom, Lorelei Gilmore, runs an inn and raises her beautiful and brilliant daughter, Rory. Loyal viewers have divided themselves by loyalties to each of Rory’s boyfriends on the series. (Full disclosure: I am on Team Anybody-But-Jess.)

The setting for the show is comically idyllic. Viewers have to suspend disbelief on several levels from the first episode. First, as any seasoned viewer or blogpost will point out, Lorelei and Rory eat tens of thousands of calories in every episode, lead a proudly sedentary lifestyle, and never gain weight. They can somehow afford to live in a decent-sized house on an innkeeper’s salary in suburban Connecticut, and still afford takeout for virtually every meal and closets full of new and interesting clothes and accessories. And perhaps most unrealistically, the “girls” — along with everyone else in town — accept the flaws and quirks of all of the townspeople, regardless of how annoying or bizarre they might be.

Michele is the rude receptionist at the Inn, but he still keeps his job and is even invited to parties. Miss Patty, the town’s dance teacher, is an unapologetic gossip, but everyone still looks to her for institutional knowledge and advice. Taylor Doose, the grocer and town selectman, is a rule-follower to the extreme, but everyone goes along with it, even if they give him a hard time for it. This odd collection of characters makes up the community of Stars Hollow, and in spite of their oddities (or maybe because of their oddities?), I’ve been drawn into the screen and wish I could live there.

While the show is not overtly religious (with only occasional nods to the combined church/temple in the middle of the town square), in many ways, the quirks of the characters are a prime example of law and grace. The town has definite law-minders. The aforementioned Taylor Doose would be the first to point out someone’s lawn that was not trimmed to regulation length, and once he timed a stoplight so that Stars Hollow’s oldest (and slowest) citizen would have time to cross the street at a crosswalk. Rory’s best friend, Lane Kim, lives under the oppressive regime of her overbearingly religious mother and has to secretly ferret away her extensive collection of secular music under the floorboards of her bedroom. Lorelei’s own mother is wrapped up in the rules of the Connecticut aristocracy: debutante balls, D.A.R. meetings, and proper place settings, and she expects everyone in her world to color within those lines.

While there is no single character who represents grace in the flesh to counteract all of those Pharisees, the entire town adopts a lens of grace to “love the ones [they’re] with.” Stars Hollow, again in a stretch of the imagination, comes together for town meetings, cat funerals, war reenactments, fundraisers for a bridge, fundraisers for a protective cover for the same bridge, dance-a-thons, knit-a-thons, and countless festivals. They accept one townsperson’s wayward teenage nephew, even though he Looks Like Trouble. They accept Rory’s decision to attend a private school in a nearby town, even though that’s not a decision most of them have made for themselves. Lorelei honors the bizarre Kirk’s bravery for asking her out on a date and treats him with gentle kindness, even in her rejection of him. The townsfolk even accept the annoying rule makers who insist on the way of law and rule-following. The people of Stars Hollow constantly forgive one another, in the style of most 30-minute television series, for large and small hurts and wrongs. When a grudge spans more than one or two episodes, I find myself uneasy even after multiple viewings of the same episodes, eager for a resolution.

After seven seasons with the Gilmore Girls, it’s no wonder most of us were hungry for more of the same. Who wouldn’t want to escape to this idyllic little Connecticut town? Lucky for their viewing audience, the Gilmores are coming back for a reunion series on Netflix. In the four-episode season, I expect to be taken in again by Stars Hollow and its quirky residents. I expect to laugh at the quick-witted banter and preposterous amount of food the mother-daughter duo plow through at every meal. And when it is over, I expect I’ll be sad that I won’t see my “friends” together again on the screen.

I don’t expect to recreate Stars Hollow at home. I’d try my damnedest to keep up with the town festivals and witty banter, but my metabolism is no match for the Gilmore Girls‘ junk food binges. I don’t live in a sweet little town, and I don’t run an inn with interesting characters. I’m not expected at my parents’ stately mansion for Friday night dinners.

The Good News, though, is that the grace that is shown to the people of Stars Hollow, by the people of Stars Hollow, is shown to us by God, even in our sub-par offscreen lives. We are all invited to the party, whether we follow the ridiculous rules about the length of our lawn or properly fitting white gloves to go with our properly fitting ball gowns. We are all welcome at the table, even if nobody bid on our picnic basket at the auction. We are forgiven, regardless of whether we did our part at the town knit-a-thon or hid contraband CDs under our floorboards. The rule-minders will always be with us, but we can rest in the comfort that The One who created us and redeemed us can carry us beyond the rules and into a large, forgiving peace of a town square, where all are welcome to share in His grace.