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Thought for the weekend: Significance of a baby's name

Rev Gareth Burke, Stranmillis Evangelical Presbyterian Church, Belfast

So the royal baby is born. The Duke of Sussex appeared before the cameras on Tuesday to announce the safe arrival of the seventh in line to the throne.

Prince Harry's announcement was followed the next morning by some pictures of the new ' bundle of joy' with his mother and father and then, on Wednesday afternoon, we were informed that the baby would be known as Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor.

Exciting times!

One of the big questions that everyone asks when a baby is born concerns the baby's name. Parents are asked 'what's he called?' or 'has she got a name?'.

Sometimes finding the right name can be difficult. A name may have been selected prior to birth, but then when mum and dad see the baby for the first time they might decide the name is not suitable and they have to search for another one.

Some time ago I consulted one of those books that exist to assist parents with the process of choosing a name in the hope that I would get to the bottom of what my own name, Gareth, really means. To my great disappointment I was informed that 'it's meaning is unknown'.

In the Bible people were often given very meaningful names. Consider Moses. His name means 'to draw' or 'to draw out' an undoubted allusion to the fact that he was drawn out of the River Nile by Pharaoh's daughter. Or think about Samuel, the boy who was born in response to the agonising prayers of his mother Hannah. His name means 'God heard'.

Of course, the name in scripture with the greatest significance is the name given to the Son of God, the Messiah, the Saviour of sinners - Jesus. His name means 'Saviour'. Joseph and Mary did not have to agonise over what they were going to call the baby because an angel appeared to Joseph and told him: 'You shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins' (Matthew 1:21).

What a great name! The name Jesus sums up the great reason why Jesus left Heaven and came into this world.

He came to save us from our sin and to bring us into a right relationship with God. It's good to know that 'Jesus saves'. Even better to know that 'Jesus has saved me'...

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