As we were proofing pages just now, my co-worker David Melson, who had been looking at the church news column, noted that two different churches — one Presbyterian, the other non-denominational — had the exact same scripture and sermon title. It was a typical eagle-eyed catch by David, which I always appreciate, but in this case, it wasn't a mistake -- I had taken both news items, which came in separately, and knew that both listings were correct. I hadn't accidentally typed the wrong sermon for the wrong church or anything like that. (I make plenty such mistakes -- it's just that this wasn't one of them.)
Coincidence? Not really.
Some denominations (or non-denominational churches) that tend to follow the liturgical calendar -- such as the seasons of Advent, Christmas, Epiphany, Lent and Easter -- also base their worship services on the Revised Common Lectionary. This is a schedule of scripture readings for each Sunday of the year, as well as for any Christian holidays that fall on another day of the week. Each week, there's a Gospel passage, another New Testament passage, a Psalm and another Old Testament passage. Depending on the denomination, the church and the minister, it may be customary to read all four passages out loud during worship. Or it may simply be the case that the preacher uses one or more of the week's lectionary passages as the text for the sermon. In some denominations, the official Sunday School material ties in with the lectionary passages, so that the Sunday School lesson supplements and reinforces the worship service. There are resources that allow a music director or preacher, whomever chooses the hymns, to easily find selections that tie in with the week's lectionary passages.
I'm a certified United Methodist layspeaker, which means I am not an ordained minister but I sometimes fill the pulpit when a minister is unavailable due to illness, travel or other commitments. In the United Methodist Church, most ministers use the Lectionary, but the congregation isn't always aware of it, and a visiting lay speaker could easily decide to choose a non-lectionary text for the sermon without anyone raising a fuss. But I like using the Lectionary; for me, it's good discipline to preach on one of the assigned passages rather than always going back to my own favorite topics.
So in this case, both of the churches in the church news column use the Revised Common Lectionary, and both of them chose to base their sermons on the Gospel passage instead of one of the other three passages. The passage in question was about Bartimaeus, a blind man healed by Jesus. Both preachers decided to use a very basic title for their sermon and wound up with "Blind Bartimaeus." That's a little bit of a coincidence, but not nearly as much as it would seem like if you didn't know about the Lectionary.