Larry Norman Christmas

Larry Norman Memorabilia

Earlier this month, I preached a sermon at H2O Church in which I shared an adaptation of a story I once heard from Larry Norman. I’ve counted him as one of my heroes for decades, but prior to that sermon it had honestly been quite a while since I’d really thought about him. However, since being called to the forefront of my mind in preparing for that message, I’ve renewed my appreciation for Larry Norman. And all of the sudden, he seems to be everywhere around me. Cor and I discovered a Christmas Album that he recorded on Spotify — and even though it’s not his best work, I’ve enjoyed hearing his voice again, with both familiar tunes and unfamiliar tunes. Marci also happened to find an autographed picture inscribed “To Eric,” that I believe my sister got for me at a concert she attended. So just this week, I found a place of honor on the wall in my home office on which to hang the picture.

Larry Norman Memorabilia

And just today, I found an old song book that was stored in our piano bench, which included another autographed photo — as well as some of the other amazing images that I’ve included with this post: Larry Norman in a Santa suit with some of his friends… Larry Norman with a gas mask… Honestly, it’s come to feel like a Larry Norman Christmas.

Larry Norman Memorabilia

Since he’s been such a significant influence on my life — and since I had to dig deep in my archives to find the story that I included in my sermon (personally typed out while listening to a MP3 file that had been ripped from a CD that had been purchased at a Larry Norman concert in the late-1990s) — I figured that I’d share this transcription here, for the sake of posterity. For providing you with a sort of Christmas present.

So, for the uninitiated, Larry Norman was a musician and activist who started gaining some attention in Northern Californian in the 1960s and 1970s. The story that I referenced in my sermon comes from a recording that I presume to come from the middle of a concert, back in that time period. I discovered it on a vinyl record called Bootleg. The track was titled, “Let the Lions Come.” And it seemed to fit well with the passage from Acts 5 about the beginnings of persecution towards the 1st Century Church. Here are Larry Norman’s words, transcribed to the best of my ability:

Larry Norman Memorabilia

We take a lot of things lightly in America. Like the Bible, like baptism… Did you know that people in Communist countries treasure their Bibles. Their Bibles are so rare. They rip out pages and memorize them and exchange them with other believers. They memorize as much as they can. They put in their hearts God’s words because they can’t always go to the shelf and pick up God’s Word.

And baptism really means something to them. Even in countries that aren’t Communist — like in India, to be baptized really means something. Over here, we may accept Jesus and take two or three years to be baptized. But over there, when a person believes, he wants to be baptized. It means something to him. And it really costs him, too. Once a person is baptized in India, his family denounces him and will not have anything to do with him. The family considers him dead.

It’s going to happen in the United States. The same thing that’s happening in oppressed countries. A lot of our churches are going to be closed down, and a lot of us are going to be arrested and killed. I know you can’t believe it… But it’s true.

There’s a man named Watchman Nee in China. You’ve read his books, haven’t you? Some of you… Well, they put him in prison because his work was converting so many people. And his books continued to come out, although he was under lock and key. And they didn’t know how he was still writing books. But it turned out he had converted the guards. And they were smuggling out his books. And so, they killed the guards. And his books continued to come.

He had converted the other guards. So they killed those guards…

Well, not wishing to oppress Christianity — because that will make it grow up stronger… I mean, you take a seed, and you lay it on top of the ground with no oppression, and it’ll just lay there, dormant. But if you plant it in the ground and cover it with dirt, and you try to bury it, it’ll grow. And the Holy Spirit’s sure to water it. Well, not wishing to oppress Christianity — but not wishing to encourage it either, they didn’t kill Watchman Nee. But they cut off his arms.

And his books still continued to come.

You can’t oppress God’s Spirit. You can’t lock it up. It will not stay locked up. And I’m not particularly afraid of what’s going to happen in the United States. I’m glad in a way because it’s going to force a lot of people to make a choice and not be so casual. And when you don’t have the church to go to, you’re going to wish you had fellowship. And those of you who are Christians are really going to treasure your Christianity more, and it’s going to mean something to you. And it’s going to work more for you because you’re going to commit yourself to it more. And you’ll start tearing out pages from your Bible.

It’s already happening here. It’s already happening in very polite forms. Our money may say, “In God We Trust,” but it’s already against the law to pray in school. And it’s happening already, right here. And maybe some of you have been persecuted — in very polite ways. I have. And my sister has. And her husband has. And my friends have been put in jail for preaching in the streets. And maybe it hasn’t happened to you… You cannot hold church in an unzoned area. And some of my friends have had their Bible studies busted. And in some neighborhoods, the neighbors have gotten together and signed a paper saying they don’t want those meetings in their neighborhood. I’m really glad there’s Bible studies in houses. I’m really glad that every day is Sunday to a lot of kids now. I’m not afraid of the Russians coming. Or the Chinese. Or the World Council of Churches, if that’s going to be our enemies, too.

Let ‘em come. I’m not afraid of the lions. Let ‘em eat me.

They can’t swallow my soul. They can’t touch us. They can’t get us. We’ve been bought with a price, and nobody’s got enough money or enough force to buy us back.

They can’t touch you. And when they come, you just pray for them. And when they lead you away, you just sing glory to God. And when they shoot you, you just smile.

Larry Norman, “Let the Lions Come” (Bootleg, Disc One)
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