Wardrobe Change

I didn’t see any of it, but it’s my understanding that the Queen of Soul (Aretha Franklin) had a few postmortem wardrobe changes. I read a short article indicating that her family held three public viewings of her body. Apparently, she wanted nothing but the best.

For the first viewing, she was clad in red. The article indicated that this was a “nod to her honorary membership” in a sorority (Delta Sigma Theta). Delta Sig boasts such members as Halle Berry and does significant work to support various civil and social causes—particularly among women of color.

Her second outfit was powder blue. No one seems to know if there was any significance to that color, but members of her family chose it. There were no pictures authorized for her second viewing, so one might guess it was a favorite color (if not hers, then someone close to her).

The third and final choice of her funeral garb was colored gold—rose gold to be specific. That color would appear to be extremely appropriate for many reasons. Not the least of these is the fact that she was proficient at producing gold records. She had eighty-eight Billboard chart hits during her career. She was number one among female vocal artists. Regardless of what kind of music was your favorite, you liked Aretha. She was that kind of singer.

There was one wardrobe change that was not mentioned in the article. It was the biggest and best of all. It was the change where she put on Christ. Those robes were white (at least figuratively).

In the Old Testament (Isaiah 61:10), those robes were described in this manner. “I delight greatly in the Lord; my soul rejoices in my God. For he has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of his righteousness, as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.”

Aretha was a professed Christian. Like a lot of singers, she got her start in the church. She sang gospel music as very few others could. I suppose that’s not surprising, but sometimes we forget those humble beginnings amid the gold records and the lofty accolades she received.

In the book of Revelation, there’s a scene which depicts a great multitude of people around the throne of God. They are people from various nations, tribes, and languages. The commonality among them is their garb. They’re all wearing white robes, waving palm branches, and shouting praises to the Lord. When John the Revelator inquires about who they are, he is told, “These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.” (Revelation 7:14)

I love that verse. Washing their robes in the blood of Jesus makes them white. Aretha’s new wardrobe change is bleached in the saving blood of Christ. His bloodstains are pure. Enjoy your new home, Aretha.

[Dave Zuchelli is a graduate of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and currently resides in Aldie, VA.]

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