A church has erected another controversial billboard - this time depicting a desperate man crawling towards the end of the year.

St Luke's Presbyterian Church in Remuera's new hoarding shows a tired man crawling past headlines about debt and earthquakes towards a finish line where Joseph holds a sign saying "joy to the world" as Mary and baby Jesus look on.

St Lukes' Reverend Glynn Cardy said he wanted to acknowledge how difficult it will be for many to celebrate Christmas this year.

The church erected an Easter billboard depicting Donald Trump. Photo / Greg Bowker
The church erected an Easter billboard depicting Donald Trump. Photo / Greg Bowker

"There are many struggling to pay for food and housing. There are many weighed down by debt.

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"Is the birth of Jesus, 'joy to the world', really something that will help in the face of struggles like this?"

St Luke's and Cardy are no strangers to controversial political statements using religious symbols and figures.

This year the church erected an Easter billboard depicting Donald Trump holding a hammer next to Jesus on the cross saying "I don't like losers".

The billboard of the Virgin Mary with a pregnancy test outside St Mathew-in-the-City church. Photo / Steven McNicholl
The billboard of the Virgin Mary with a pregnancy test outside St Mathew-in-the-City church. Photo / Steven McNicholl

And when Cardy was a vicar at St Matthew-in-the-City in Auckland central, the church's Christmas and Easter hoardings have challenged Christians on homosexuality, solo mothers (Mary holding a pregnancy test) and depicted Mary and Joseph in bed with the tagline "Poor Joseph. God was a hard act to follow".

A billboard intended to provoke conversation about spiritual matters at Christmas. Photo / David Rowland
A billboard intended to provoke conversation about spiritual matters at Christmas. Photo / David Rowland

The billboards didn't begin under Cardy but he has said they did become racier - aimed at getting Christians to think more deeply about their faith and social issues of the day.

Cardy said he understood Christmas could be difficult to celebrate in the face of rising house prices and international turmoil but he wanted to remind people what Jesus and his followers believed in.

A billboard with a painting of Jesus made from chocolate outside St Matthew-in-the-City church in 2007. Photo / Martin Sykes
A billboard with a painting of Jesus made from chocolate outside St Matthew-in-the-City church in 2007. Photo / Martin Sykes

"His followers had a vision of everyone having enough to eat with leftovers to share, of everyone having a place of shelter and belonging, of debts being not only manageable but forgiven."