No Sleep Till Brooklyn, Part II: The Gospel and Home


“We won’t be here long. We are just passing through.” That’s something my Dad would tell me as we would take leave and come to a place I now call home—New Castle, Indiana. I was an Army Brat and that may not mean a whole lot to you unless you experienced traveling and moving house & home 7 times in the span of 16 years, but hey “Welcome to the Army way of life.”

Honestly, we felt like patriotic pilgrims in many ways with our duffel bags in tow, Springsteen’s Born in the USA on our tongues, and hands across our chest (My brother and I were hopeful that Red Dawn would become a self-fulfilling prophecy so that we could show our loyalty to Lady Liberty via BB Guns and smoke grenades, okay I’m still holding out hope—Wolverines!).

Of course I wouldn’t take any of it back, but even as our family had very much adjusted to the idea of the open road as a place called home, there was still something lacking, a longing unfulfilled.

In the Beastie Boy’s classic, No Sleep Till Brooklyn, you hear not only the sounds of false bravado, but you hear through the base & bumps, and the triumph of self-glorification, and denigration of women as objects of conquest—a traditional and familiar sound. Almost as if it were the 1980’s Smash-Hip Hop version of “I’ll be Home For Christmas.” That increasing longing that exists to be at a place called home; a vacuum that can only be filled by Mom’s lasagna or Nana’s Beef Manhattan.

We hear it prevalent in the lyrics and tagline: No Sleep Till Brooklyn. And the reason that is so interesting is because in No Sleep what do you really hear, mostly? You hear a group of young men at the center of the 1980’s fame and fortune apex; where they achieved new heights of fame, fortune, pleasures of varied kinds, but there is also something in them that longs for them to find their home, regardless of how long it takes and how tired they are—they are going home.

The Boys Beastie in all of their late 80’s glory still have a longing for home and so does everybody really. But the Gospel tell us that our longing for homecoming isn’t found in going home to Brooklyn or even to New Castle, Indiana or anywhere we lay our heads at night. No, the Gospel of Christ points us to an eternal dwelling far beyond our finite vision. The scriptures tell us that “…our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ (cf. Phil. 3:30).

The Bible tells us that Jesus has gone before us to prepare a place for us (cf. John 14:2) and the implications for the Christian are far and wide and compelling. We have a place where we are going, but we also have the present that we now live in, which means waiting. But as the Christian waits—we also work (Mt.28:19-20), and as we work we are not called to move forward with No Sleep, no, we are also called to rest (Mk. 4:26). But between working for the Lord and resting in the Lord we are to be watchful for the Lord (Mt. 25:13), specifically for the day of our true homecoming.

Whatever longing we have for our home and whatever we might identify home with: whether we root it in our family being together at the holiday, or a certain comfort food (Pizza King and Jack’s Donuts for New Castlillians), or even a the physical place like the brick and mortar that made up your family’s four walls, we have to remember that it is God’s grace to us in forecasting a better place to come. Because if we are in Christ then we adopt a Kingdom minded Pilgrimage that says, “We won’t be here long. We are just passing through.”

Next week at R3D I will be examining one of the greatest 1980’s movie classics the original “The Karate Kid.”

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