Mayberry makes us homesick for a day when social interaction happened not with memes on screens but in living rooms and soda shops and porch swings and barber shops,on creek banks
and at choir practiceand county fairs. It makes us yearn for a place where quirky characters are cherished, where freckle-faced children say "please" and "thank you," where prodigals are welcomed home, and the supper table is spread with fried chicken, mashed potatoes and gravy, and hot, buttered biscuits. Pies are cooling on the window sill, and nobody ever heard of cholesterol or body mass index.
Come to think of it, the Bible does describe such a place. It's called Heaven! A place, incidentally, that we law-breakers enter only by grace.
In one of the most popular episodes, Barney arranges for a Russian-American summit meeting to take place at Andy's house. (Willing suspension of disbelief here.) The politicos are at a standstill until they all wind up in the kitchen late at night, raiding the icebox. While feasting on Aunt Bee's delicious goodies, they manage to achieve world peace--or at least share some pickles and a few laughs.
In an episode called "The Christmas Story," Andy lets all the prisoners go home for Christmas. But the curmudgeonly Ben Weaver insists that Andy arrest Sam Muggins for making moonshine. In a brilliant counter-move, Andy brings Christmas to the jailhouse. Andy arrests Sam's family and puts them in the cell with Sam. Then Andy, Barney, Aunt Bea and Ellie celebrate the holiday at the jailhouse too. Now Ben is jealous, since he obviously has no Christmas waiting at home. While Andy and Ellie sing "Away In a Manger," Ben looks through the window and sadly sings along.
|Sam, Ben, and the moonshine|
Ben then tries repeatedly to get arrested so that he can join the party, but his plans are continually thwarted--until Andy gets the message that Ben is lonely. Then Andy arrests Ben, allowing him to stop by his department store to pick up presents for everybody.
We the viewers start out being mad at Ben, but then we feel pity for him and are happy when his Christmas wish comes true. It reminds me of how God brings Christmas to our imprisoned souls.
And if that isn't grace, what is?