If you had an invitation to a private dinner with a Prime Minister, a President or a Queen, do you think you might rearrange your schedule to accept the very special invitation?

The chances of you out of 6.5 billion others on the planet being invited to such a regal dinner are very slim. Most people don’t even bother dreaming of getting such an invitation because its too far fetched to ever become a reality.

But for Helen Mirren, it became a reality. She received an invitation right from Buckingham Palace to have a private dinner with her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. Was it a gold-embossed hand delivered invitation or was it an official phone call from the Palace? It doesn’t matter. The point is, Helen Mirren was invited.

Oscar winning actress, Helen Mirren has a special connection to Queen Elizabeth II who turned 81 recently. The 61 year old actress portrayed Her Majesty in the movie The Queen and as a result she was honored with an Academy Oscar.

Mirren saluted the real Queen when she accepted her award for Best Actress by saying: “She has weathered many, many storms. And I salute her courage and her consistency and I thank her because if it wasn’t for her I most certainly would not be here.

The Queen wanted to have a private dinner with Mirren. Even though the Queen’s social calendar is etched in stone one year in advance, the Queen had her officials ‘make room’ for a special dinner with the actress. The date for the private dinner was set for Tuesday, May 01st.

But Mirren sent her regrets. She was too busy to take time out for Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. Her words: “The Palace very kindly extended an invitation to dinner last Tuesday, May 1. But, unfortunately I was filming in South Dakota and unable to change my schedule. I am very sad not to have been able to attend.

According to media reports Palace officials were not amused. “It is unheard of for Her Majesty to extend a personal invitation to dinner to someone who has portrayed her in a film,” The Mail Newspaper quoted a senior palace official as saying. “We did not expect to be told that the date is unacceptable.”

It’s not the first time people turned down invitations to significant functions hosted by great people. Perhaps you have never thought of the great invitation you have turned down from someone far greater than the Queen of England.

Jesus told a story of a man who hosted a great banquet and invited special guests. However, one after another made excuses for turning down his invitation. One said: “Sorry, I just bought some land and I want to go look at it. Please excuse me. I can’t come.” Another man said: “Sorry, but I just acquired some livestock and I want to go check them out. Please excuse me. I can’t come.” One husband said: “I’ve married a wife and I can’t attend. Please excuse me. I can’t come.” (Luke 14:16-28)

Actress Mirren’s excuse to turn down the Queen’s dinner invitation seems flimsy and lame to some. Others feel she intentionally snubbed the Queen. But other than showing poor taste and the damage she may have done to her image, the consequences of turning down the Palace invite will be minimal. She won’t starve to death and her career will continue.

However, the same can’t be said for you. If you turn down the invitation you have been given, the consequences will be significant and eternal.

The Monarch from Heaven has invited you to a Banquet. The Great Gospel Supper. The menu is loaded: a personal and permanent relationship with Jesus Christ, peace with God, rest, forgiveness of every sin, eternal life, and an abundance of other good things in this life and for eternity. The King absorbed all the costs two thousand years ago on a Cross outside the walls of Jerusalem. It is free to you. He’s invited you and he’s waiting for you to accept. The message from Heaven is: “Come; for all things are now ready.” Luke 14:17

Jesus extended an open invitation to all sinners to come. He said: “Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28

You’re not filming out in South Dakota but you probably have some excuse for not accepting the King’s invitation. Is it possible you are snubbing God? Is it possible your failure to accept God’s invitation is based on your disregard for Christ and His death on your behalf? The consequences of ignoring or not responding to the invitation are the same as an outright rejection of the invitation. Your refusal will result in you being barred from Heaven forever. The consequences include conscious eternal suffering in Hell and the Lake of Fire. (Luke 16:19-31)

I’ve already listed the benefits of accepting Heaven’s gracious invitation. God really wants you to accept. He doesn’t want anyone to perish. (2Peter 3:9) He wants all to be saved. (1Timothy 2:4) The Banquet cost Him a great deal. He gave His Son to the Cross.

The decision to accept or turn down the invitation rests solely with you. Will you accept and come to Christ right now? Or is your response: ‘Please excuse me. I can not come’? Is it: ‘I can not come’, or ‘I will not come’?

Sources:

“‘Queen Elizabeth II’, (c) Christian Furr 1995 All rights reserved
www.TheStar.com
http://www.channelnewsasia.com/stories/afp_world/view/274597/1/.html
The Globe and Mail, 07 May, 2007, R9, Breaking Entertainment News.