Pastor Tim Smith, of Hele Road Baptist Church in Torquay, writes for the Torbay Weekly:
The beginning of the new Scottish football season last weekend won’t have captured the imagination of most of us here in the South West but I was amused to discover that at one club in the top division north of the border, five members of the first team squad - including all three goalkeepers - have the same first name – Ross!
Appropriately, the team they play for is called Ross County.
Surely this must be some kind of record? But apparently it isn’t the first player/name coincidence that this club has experienced in recent years.
Back in 2014, young midfielder Tony Dingwall made his first team debut for them. Nothing remotely interesting about that you might say, until you realise that Ross County is based in the Scottish Highland town of Dingwall!
When I have the time, I enjoy delving into the meaning and origin of names, and although the name Ross, which can mean either ‘a headland’ or also ‘red-haired’, has plenty of Scottish connections - after all, there is a Scottish clan called Ross - the name appears to go all the way back to 9th century France and the village of Rots in Normandy.
Growing up in church, I recall eyebrows were occasionally raised if a newborn baby was given something other than a Biblical name. But not all such names were equally acceptable. There were quite a few Daniels and Marys, I’ve yet to meet anyone called Mahershalalhashbaz!
Of course, the name at the heart of the Christian faith is Jesus, which means ‘God saves’.
It was a pretty common name in Bible times, speaking as it did of the hope that the Lord would rescue his people.
There are many other names and titles attributed to Jesus in the Bible, each of them saying something of who he is or what he does. Christians believe that for anyone who is hungry, Jesus is the bread of life; if someone is lost, he’s the way; to the orphan, he can be known as the everlasting father; if you’re a builder, Jesus is described as the sure foundation; and to anyone who is afraid of dying, he calls himself the resurrection and the life. What this says to me is that at the heart of my faith isn’t a set of rules, but a person, who, the Bible tells me, cares deeply about my life, and who I’m able to have a relationship with.