One year when I was a young teenager, living in the suburb community of Bethany, I was asked to participate in the Passion Play inside our local church. It would have been in early Spring of 1949 through 1951. It was most likely 1951 when I was 14 years old because a neighborhood boy and friend who was a couple of years younger than me also was asked to participate.
We were to join older boys playing guards at the tomb of Jesus after he was crucified. We were all dress in the guard garb of the time of Jesus, with metal helmets with a metal spike on top each helmet.
As the play progressed, the routine was for all guards to burst through an open door on one side of the stage, one after the other, then run across the stage yelling, “He has been crucified!” Lightning, thunder, and wind would sound throughout the sanctuary…the lighting portrayed by lights on the stage, the thunder from audio recordings, and the high wind from a canvas on a spinning wooden drum that was located behind a beautiful mesh on a large rosette opening high at the back of the stage. Three stage hands operated those three devices.
We lined up in a small room at a door that was located on the south side of the front part of the stage. And the first guard burst up a ramp, through the door opening, running across the stage yelling, “He has been crucified!” As the play script dictated, he then ran off the stage down another ramp through another door on the other side into the pastor’s office, which provided access outside the church and also access by way of a stairway up to the area behind the rosette opening where the canvas/wooden wind drum was located.
The lightning had flashed, the thunder had crashed, and the wind had howled as he had run across the stage…as they also would do when the other guards, including me would in like manner run and yell across the stage into the pastor’s office. Looking from the stage, old wooden pews disappeared off into darkness at the back end of the large sanctuary. However, from a few scattered lights you could see the front pews and the pews up in the balcony at the back of the sanctuary dimly but clearly.
My younger friend was up next to run across the stage. This was his first practice and he was excited. But he also was lanky and tall.
As he burst through the door opening, the spike on his helmet hit the top of the door and his helmet fell off clanking down the ramp to the floor. He had burst through the door so fast, he was at the center of the stage before he could stop. He didn’t come back to get his helmet for some time; he just stood there looking out over the pews of the sanctuary. We yelled at him to come on back to get his helmet.
When he finally came back, he tried to tell us about a strange thing he had seen out in the pews, but the boy in charge physically turned him around and insisted that he run across the stage immediately so the play practice could continue. The boy in charge warned him to duck as he went through the door so his helmet wouldn’t be knocked off.
My friend burst through the door opening again, holding his head down with his hands so his helmet would not be knocked off. But he again stopped, looked and pointed toward the pews. We all yelled at him to keep going. So he turned and ran through the other door and into the pastor’s office.
It was my turn next.
I grabbed my spear, ducked my head and burst through the door opening…only to come to a screeching halt when I also noticed something strange out in the front section of pews on the south side of the sanctuary.
I didn’t really understand what I saw then, but I do know. It was a large translucent windowed saucer, the lower half embedded into the pews. But the upper half, windows and all, was above the backs of the old wooden pews. I don’t know for sure, but I faintly recall “the voice” mumbling something that I don’t recall or completely remember.
About his time the other boys were so impatient they yelled at me to keep going. I tried to tell them what I saw, but they didn’t want to hear any of it. So I turned and ran off the stage, through the other door into the pastor’s office. I had heard the wind blow and heard the lightning crash and saw it flash as I ran down the ramp, off the stage, into the pastor’s office.
The door leading up the stairs to the canvas/wooden drum wind device behind the rosette opening at the back end of the stage was open.
Standing there for a short time talking with the two boys who already had, at least to some extent, performed this small role in the play, we heard the stage hand who operated the wind device yelling frantically about something we couldn’t understand. He soon came running down the stairs yelling that something mysteriously unseen was operating the wind machine. We heard it operating and wondered if he was trying to trick us. So another fellow and I walked cautiously up the stairs and there it was, the wooden drum spinning with the canvass over it producing the howling wind sound.
We were extremely curious and eventually frightened. We ran down the stairs an all of us agreed to go back to the stage and talk with the other boys.
When we arrived, all of us standing in a group in the center of the stage, the wind again began to howl and a somewhat loud male voice spoke about something I can’t remember. Everyone was accounted for and we knew some mysterious unseen something again operated the wind machine and it was speaking…a male voice speaking in perfect English.
After a while the boys dispersed and I have the vague recollection of seeing a smaller disc or a small windowed saucer hovering and moving slowly above the old wooden pews up in the balcony at the back of the sanctuary.
This is all I recall clearly. However, I do also recall seeing the discs and possibly the windowed saucer hovering and moving slowly above the roof of the church, and outside on all sides of the church at different times over a period of a number of years when I was young. I also saw the discs and other people and I heard the voice speak very briefly inside the church at other times, but my memories are not as clear as they are on that occasion when we experienced the large saucer over the pews and the wind machine operating on its own during this Easter Pageant practice.